March-April 2019

Old-Time Sausages and a Square Dance in Europe

By David Bragger

Bragger picture 5I just returned from a spectacular two week trip in Europe. Old-Time music brought me there. My old-time string band Sausage Grinder was invited to play the 25th anniversary of the Gainsborough Old-Time Music Festival in the UK. We played two concerts alongside many gifted old-time musicians from the States and Europe including Ben Paley, Reed Island Rounders, The Moose Whisperers, The Firecrackers, Debra Clifford & Becca Wintle and many more. I also had the pleasure of teaching several workshops in fiddle, banjo and double fiddle. In between the concerts and workshops, the festival goers jammed around the clock. This is a hardcore crowd of old-time musicians and enthusiasts who helped me avoid any semblance of sleep for four days.

From there, Susan Platz and I were invited to Berlin by Old-Time Central’s Ben Smith. After teaching a wonderful double fiddle workshop together, we embarked on an old-time journey that I will not soon forget. We played a packed square dance in a classic German dining/dance hall. The dance was called in both English and German. It was one of the most energetic dances that I’ve ever played. The entire dance floor was filled with the moving feet of many a dancer, representing several generations. From Berlin artists to rug-cutting grandmothers, all were synced in the old-time dances led by the bilingual dance calling of Hans Krakau.

After visiting the Berlin Wall and some additional sightseeing, Susan and I met up with Christopher Berry in Amsterdam. We took a train to Helmond with our Netherlands hosts Nicole Hessels and Paul van Stiphout. Our hosts arranged a grand concert for us and a series of 5 1/2 hour intensive workshops. The students amazed me. They had an obsession for learning fiddle bowing and repertoire and they asked all the right questions. These players were on point! It was an amazing experience. Europe really has it going when it comes to old-time!

Throughout the trip I took photos with my Leica. Here they are along with some others. Cheers!

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Click HERE for more photographs!

David Bragger is a Los Angeles-based instructor and player of old time fiddle and banjo music. He also photographs, films, and collects the lore of traditional artists, from puppeteers in Myanmar to fiddlers of Appalachia The Old Time Tiki Parlour


All Columns by David Bragger