Fiddlers' Tour

The Capital Region's Weekly Traditional Music Jam

It All Began...


. . . originally as an all day bash on St. Patrick's Day, around 1984 or 1985, and was sponsored by Bill Newman of Newman's Ale. It boasted the talents of Billy Drislane and David Ray on fiddle (both now of the contra and swing band the Zillionaires), and Richie Kessler on guitar. The day was spent playing tunes and moving from bar to bar. Billy's recollection was playing "...from eleven in the morning until close to midnight, starting at Charlie Weaver's in North Albany and ending at the Eldorado Hotel in downtown Troy, barreling our way from one joint to the next, playing acoustically, hollering out the songs, dancing with the ladies and moshing our way through the walls of human flesh. I think we hit eight or nine places that day. We had a great time."

In 1988, Billy instituted the jam session at the Victory Cafe, calling it the "Fiddlers' Tour," and chose Tuesday because "Tuesday night seemed like a good night for playing music," and it was close to his apartment.

The Tour stayed at the Victory Cafe for several months, then started moving around on a monthly basis, first to Sweet Lorraine's, then to the South End Tavern in South Troy, and on to Pauley's Hotel at the corner of Central and Quail in Albany. Billy moved to New England in the summer of 1991. The Tour held together for a while, but eventually wound down, leaving only a few musicians gathering together now and then.

In July of 1996, contra dance caller, Paul Rosenberg -- having attended the earlier Fiddlers' Tour jam sessions -- resurrected the jam, focusing on contra dance tunes, and an all-levels-friendly, round-robin style session. They began meeting outside in Washington Park during the summer. The jam session then moved to Uncommon Grounds in September, and then on to Professor Java's Coffee Emporium on Wolf Road, Colonie, in January of '98. The Tour stayed at Professor Java's for a few more months until another group rented out the room on Tuesday nights. The Tour then moved to the Pedestrian Café in Schenectady for the summer of '97.

The number of musicians attending the jam increased, filling one of the Pedestrian's dining rooms to capacity with roughly twenty musicians. When Fall arrived, the Tour moved to and Irish Tavern, Eamonn's Loudon House, in Loudonville, NY, for the month of October. From there, the Tour began a month-by-month booking; each month at a different place, still meeting every Tuesday night at 7:30pm, as it still does today.

The Fiddler's Tour has played at over different 20 venues over the years (some now gone), and continues to grow and spread the sounds of Traditional Music around the capital district area. It meets in various venues, and is open to any acoustic musician of any level, of any age. It exists to bring Traditional Music to the public, and to offer a place for musicians to jam in an open, stress-free atmosphere. Fiddlers' Tour offers beginners the experience of playing with a group. Several Tour musicians play in local bands for dances in the area. Some dances are open to Tour musicians sitting in.

Hopefully, the Fiddlers' Tour will continue to draw new musicians, play in new areas, and pass on the tradition of this style of music. Its future depends on those who come. One never knows who will show up. That's half the fun.

May the music never cease!


Upcoming Events

Wednesday, Dec 14 at 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Wednesday, Dec 21 at 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Wednesday, Dec 28 at 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Wednesday, Jan 4 at 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM