Fiddle music is an integral part of our Canadian heritage. Fiddlejam began in 2001 as an opportunity to play together for fun and as a place to learn and share Canadian Fiddle tunes. We have since learned well over 200 tunes and play for many annual community events. We work together with Branch 18 of the British Columbia Old Time Fiddlers Association to host a monthly contra dance from September to April at the Merville Hall in Merville .
Everyone is welcome and we have musicians of all ages and levels. Although most musicians are fiddlers, we enjoy a great backup contingent of piano, guitar, bass, stand-up bass, mandolin, whistles, banjo and accordion. We play a variety of styles and tunes: Canadian Old Time, Celtic, French Canadian, Cape Breton and dance music including foxtrots, 2-steps, country shuffles, waltzes, jigs, polkas, reels and swing tunes.
Fiddlejam musicians generally play by ear and all tunes are taught by ear. Often musicians will bring a tape recorder to help them remember the new tune.
Fiddlejam works very closely with the British Columbia Old Time Fiddlers, Comox Valley Branch #18. This non-profit society works to maintain the longtime tradition of Canadian fiddle music as an important part of our Canadian heritage. Its mandate is also to encourage and support all young fiddle players through bursaries designed to help them with lessons, workshops, camps and contests. Profits from the Contra Dances go towards the bursaries.
Branch 18 and Fiddlejam hold a Contra / Old Time dance at the Merville Hall generally on the third Saturday of the month from September to April.
In the Comox Valley there are two major fiddle events during the year, The North Island Festival of the Performing Arts Fiddle section and Fiddle Fest
Fiddle Fest is a two day festival held in the Spring. This year Fiddle Fest was on Friday, March 20th and Saturday, March 21st at the Big Yellow Merville Hall, 15 minutes north of Courtenay. On Friday, the fiddle concert featured those Toronto based bluegrass barbermongers, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, who blew the lid off the hall. On Saturday, there was an excellent day of workshops with the five Foggies and, on Saturday evening a rip roaring family Contra Dance extraordinaire with the Foggies and Fiddlejam storming the stage. Lots of laughter and lots of dancing.
The North Island Festival of the Performing Arts, held in February, has a Fiddle component which is an opportunity for fiddlers to perform for adjudication and awards. This year’s adjudicator was fiddle Nellie Quinn from Victoria.