Fiddle-L Anthology 1999

A Tour 'Round The World Of Fiddling

Performer Bio


Mimi Torchia Boothby, Seattle, Washington, U.S. ( /

Mimi was born November 28, 1951, in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. She attended some college courses, and is currently a Noise Technician at Boeing Commercial Airplane Company. She is a member of Washington Old Time Fiddlers' Association.


Mimi's heritage is Italian, as both sets grandparents came from Italy. Her parents both came from Newark, New Jersey. Her husband, Donald, plays the lead in the twin fiddle piece on this tape (her son Tom, "age 16, plays viola in a great school orchestra"). Mimi began playing violin some 12 years ago, in Seattle, when her older son Josiah began Suzuki violin lessons. It was her first experience playing music. She says she benefited from her children's lessons and she is currently taking lessons, formally and informally. She has attended the Fiddle Tunes workshops (Seattle) and WOTFA summer workshops. The first tune Mimi learned was Irish Washerwoman, which she got from sheet music. Today, her favorite tune is Midnight on the Water, and she enjoys hearing it from "everyone who plays it". Her favorite fiddlers are Vivian Williams and Kevin Burke.


Mimi enjoys playing many kinds of tunes: "whatever I can". She notes that her primary instrument is standup bass. Her preferred backup is a string band of guitar, mandolin, and bass. She enjoys playing for dances, has played in church and at weddings, and performs with her band, the Turtle Valley String Band. They plan to have recordings available in the future.


Mimi describes her style as "rough". She notes there are many styles present in the Pacific Northwest.


The Amati style violin Mimi plays was made by "a passionate young German man working in a factory over 100 years ago". She describes its sound as "sonorous, deep, and a bit cranky". She favors a Kun shoulder rest and Dominant strings. Her bow is a Glasser composite. Mimi enjoys collecting violins, and handles her own basic maintenance. She also likes to repair old wooden cases.


"[It's] a love affair. A way to make something beautiful (well, I keep trying)."


Mimi learned St. Paul's Waltz from an old Vivian Williams LP. She learned it and Twin Sisters about six years ago. "My husband Donald played the harmony in this twin fiddle tune. Donald has been playing the fiddle since the early 70's, when an old guy named Johnny Sankey in Boise, Idaho taught him a few basic fiddle tunes by ear. Because of his playing the fiddle, now both of my sons are accomplished musicians; my older son, Josiah, is a music performance major at Central Washington University and my younger son plays viola in the Garfield High School Orchestra and can fiddle when he wants. And I play bass in an old time southern style band, which has entirely changed my life and my self concept. All because of Donald."