Fiddle-L Anthology 1999

A Tour 'Round The World Of Fiddling

Performer Bio


11.

Andrew Kuntz, Wappingers Falls, New York, U.S. (aikuntz@aol.com / The Fiddlers Companion web page: http://celtic.stanford.edu/tunes/fc)

Andrew was born August 15, 1951 in Abington, Pennsylvania. He has two Masters degrees, in Creative Arts in Therapy and Social Work, with a Post-Masters Certification in Advanced Social Work. Currently, he is Program Director of a children's mental health clinic. Andrew is a member of the Hudson Valley Folk Guild.

HERITAGE, HISTORY, LESSONS, FAVORITE TUNE

Andrew's heritage is German on his father's side, and Scots, Scots-Irish and English on his mother's side. His father was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and his mother is from Lancaster, New Hampshire. His great-grandfather and great uncle were New Hampshire fiddlers. "My great-grandfather Cross learned his style as a boy in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada, from an Irish fiddler named Jim Pidgeon, though the tunes he played seemed to be New England standards and some French-Canadian tunes." Andrew began playing violin at age 27, while in Germantown (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. He has had several years of lessons each from Jay Ungar, Liz Slade and Brian Conway, and continues to study with Conway. He has had some informal Irish sessions and has participated in old-timey jams as well as some workshops. Andrew also participated in the Ashokan workshop in the early days, and more recently attended the Catskills Irish Arts Week. Andrew remembers that his first fiddle tune was Soldier's Joy, which he learned "probably from a combination of sheet music and my former roommates. It was a tune my great-uncle played and I was aware of that, though I didn't learn it from him." His favorite tune today is The Gold Ring, and his favorite fiddlers include Martin Hayes, Brian Conway, and Brad Leftwich.

TYPES OF TUNES, INSTRUMENTS, VENUES

Andrew enjoys playing jigs, marches, hornpipes, and airs. He uses cross tuning for some old-timey tunes and Shetland tunes in AEAE. In addition to fiddle, Andrew plays guitar, mandolin, and bass; he prefers piano or guitar for backup while fiddling. He has played fiddle in church: "Actually, that's how I got back into fiddling after not playing for a few years when the kids were infants/toddlers. A family friend was the music director and I got into the habit of playing along during the service. Found all that hymn playing a great help in improving my tone and intonation. [I] have a contra band (that plays mostly concerts), play in Irish sessions twice a month, and occasionally with an Irish group for concerts." He has also played a few weddings.

FIDDLE CONTESTS

Andrew says he is "neutral" about contests. He has not competed before and does not know about any in his area, but he's not interested in them.

STYLE

Andrew concentrates on Irish styles currently, and he can also switch to old-timey. Main influences: "Jay Ungar got me started and my older tunes are all based on his style. Got into 'hard-core' old-time with Liz Slade; lots of rhythm and bow work. Brian Conway is the basis for my Irish style." Andrew notes there are probably two dozen major and sub-genres or so in America, Canada and the British Isles. "Irish fiddle in NYC is mostly derived from Sligo masters. Michael Coleman direct to Andy McGann direct to Brian Conway (direct to me? if I happen to get good enough). Contra dance music very big and most dancing hereabouts is contras with a few squares being called. [There are] some mixed old-timey/bluegrass jams."

Andrew plays in two bands: Contra Indicated and Celtic Odyssey. At this time, he does not have recordings available.

THE VIOLIN

The origin of Andrew's violin is unknown, but he considers is a decent factory instrument, probably German, from the late 19th or early 20th century. It has no label and is a Maggini copy. Its personality and sound are full and open. Andrew has never used a shoulder rest and prefers Dominant strings. His bow is from an unknown maker, and is a decent pernambuco bow.

WHY DO YOU PLAY THE FIDDLE?

"Complex reasons. Largely it puts me in touch with the past. My great-grandfather and great uncle, but also the historical past of tune origins and lore, historical events and commemorations etc. I think the body of the instrument being so close to my head involves me more than the guitar, for example; it's a more soulful connection."

Andrew chose to record "Rose by the Door." It was composed 1985 by Andrea Hoag, and he learned it from Tim Mathieson's Waltz Book, a couple of years ago. His contra band often plays this tune for their first waltz. For the recording, Andrew used his old four-track to overdub himself on guitar and second fiddle.