Wednesday Night Jam Session History

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The group that was interested in fiddling, started playing in the Eliot Grange Hall, probably in the fall. David Masury got that started, and it went on until Christmas. It didn’t start up after the break. After a while I looked into getting it started again and we started in March 2003 in the Unitarian Fellowship in Durham.

In August 2004 I had problems with an inflamed nerve and couldn’t play very much. Without me either fiddling or playing piano the jam session would have been weak at the time. Rather than shut it down, Teresa came up with the idea of turning it into a listening session: one in which we’d listen to recordings by the great fiddlers, so people could hear how the tunes sound when played by people much better than any of us who were attending the session, and by people who were really from the traditions we were playing.  We moved the session to my house so we could listen to records. Typically we’d listen to two records and play a few tunes in between each side. We’d have hot cider and other snacks. It was really quite pleasant, and although a bit smaller most people enjoyed hearing the recordings of fiddlers they’d never heard before.

By January 2005 I was healed enough to move back to the DUUF, but we decided to keep the listening component, keeping it at the equivalent of one side of a record per night. This gives us continued opportunity to listen to interesting recordings by great fiddlers, a snack break, and a chance to socialize with our friends. We’ve continued as a moderate-sized, informally-run jam session with a strong emphasis on Canadian fiddle tunes, and in particular we play a number of tunes from Marcel’s repertoire. We also play a variety of other tunes including square dance tunes (many of which are also from Marcel’s repertoire), some contradance tunes, some Swedish tunes, and some tunes from the British Isles.

As of the latest update to this page (Summer, 2009), I’ve had a couple years of being too busy to do much besides work for various reasons, so as people have moved away we’ve gotten a bit smaller and we haven’t done much to get new people. It is my hope after the summer break is over that we can find some new people to join us, as it has always, whether there are two or three of us or eight to twelve, been a very enjoyable evening of music and company; and to the best of my knowledge we play a different repertoire than any other jam session in the area.


Carla Robidas and Bruce Cobb fiddling one Wednesday night. Carla is Marcel’s daughter-in-law and has been learning many of the tunes from Marcel’s repertoire at the jam session. Photo by Evelyn Roberts, 4/06, used with her permission.

Here’s a bit of history about the jam session. For many years Marcel Robidas had a great soiree in his barn in Dover, NH every Wednesday evening. Many fiddlers, guitar players, family members and friends would show up. We’d play music sometimes until quite late. There’s be singing, step dancing, sometimes Phil Johnson would call a square dance, Marcel would play marvelous fiddle music. You never knew who might show up. For me, and probably for many others, it was about the best time I’ve ever had playing music, and it formed an important part of my musical education.

Unfortunately in May 2002 Marcel and Louise announced that for various reasons they would be moving to Maine, and the Barn would shut down in two weeks. It was quite a shock for all of us. A phone/e-mail list was collected, but no coherent group ever reformed. Instead several subgroups formed with different interests.