Category Archives: Fiddle Stuff

Fiddle teacher father

My former fiddle teacher, James Anderson, is a new father. Good luck, dad!

APQ joins symphony

Our old friends the Austin Piazzolla Quintet has a big gig coming up if you live in Wilmington, North Carolina. On Nov 16, they’ll be performing with the Wilmington Symphony orchestra.

For ticket information, if you live in or near there, or can journey there in time, go here. (Lucky you.) We, alas, do not/cannot, so we’ll have to hope there’s a YouTube version or await the CD.

The Groper hits the Dregs

Joey “The Groper” Hairplugs (aka Biden) claims the dregs of society ally with Trump. Ha! Dregs or deplorables, I’ll take it.

Rule 5: Bjork


Björk Guðmundsdóttir, the Icelandic pop singer known by her first name, and her infamous swan dress. Her haunting songs, such as Bachelorette (with its fiddle and cello string section and lyric “I’m a fountain of blood in the shape of a girl”) and Joga, are just as memorable.

Austin APQ’s new album on tour in Colorado

My fiddle teacher James Anderson’s tango/jazz band on tour in Boulder, Colorado. Complete with dancers. This is new, original music from their latest self-titled album, APQ—which stands for Austin Piazzolla Quintet.  Which you can buy here. And keep up with them here and here.

More orchestra

Another arduous hour-long rehearsal last night of the four American pieces the new orchestra workshop I joined will perform Aug. 1 at a South Austin nursing home. The young teacher/conductor is diplomatic. “If you’re not sure you’re in the right place,” she said to everyone, “play softer.” She wasn’t looking at me, but I knew who she meant.

Looking forward to LOCO’s two hours tonight which is tiring in its own way but easier all around because after two and a half years of jigs, reels and Old Time, I’m comfortable with it and am always in the right place. Even if I wasn’t, since fiddlers all play loud there’s no need to “play softer.”

My teacher encouraged me to try the orchestra stuff and we go over the pieces in advance, but he warned me what to expect, too. Faking is common in symphonies worldwide, he told me, and it’s always advisable to underplay even when you’re sure your intonation is good and you’re in the groove. And play things shorter than written so you’re not still playing when everyone else has stopped… Oops.

As for the nursing home, yeah, good works and all that. The venue is free to the teacher/conductor and comes with a built-in audience. All but one of the other players are young and will just come and go feeling they’ve done their civic duty. Me and that other older one will look around and feel a bit threatened, more determined than ever not to wind up in such a place.

UPDATE:  The concert went well. No major goofs. And the nursing home was the nicest one I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t mind being “incarcerated” there, if it came to that.

James Anderson’s Elevation Quartet


My violin teacher’s latest project, performing the other day at Central Market South in Austin. Their style has been described as “swing jazz,” though they mostly play straight eights. They play a few standard covers such as Black Orpheus but mostly James’ original compositions: Altitude, Nocturne, Waffle, etc.

He’s on the violin. The others, L to R, are guitarist/composer Alan Retamozo, drummer Brennan Howell and bassist/composer Phil Spencer. Elevation refers to James, Brennan and Phil being from Colorado. Here’s an audio sampler of their work on four of James’ compositions: Waffle, Soho, Mountain Time & Tag Team.