Fiddle-L Anthology 1999

A Tour 'Round The World Of Fiddling

Performer Bio


46.

Alice Holt, Salem, Oregon, U.S. (lewholt@aol.com).

Alice was born October 4, 1934, in North Bend, Coos County, Oregon. She holds an Associate Degree from a community college, is a mother and housewife and is a member of Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association and National Oldtime Fiddlers Association.

HERITAGE, HISTORY, LESSONS, FAVORITE TUNE

Alice's father, of English/Irish heritage, was born in Blue Hill, Nebraska; her mother, of German descent, was born in Douglas County, near Roseburg, Oregon. "My paternal Grandfather, John Cunningham Merritt, was born in Canada of English parents. He and one brother, played fiddle as young men in Manitoba. When I was growing up family get togethers often included Grandpa Merritt playing the fiddle and Grandma chording for him on the piano. I took piano lessons from Grandma, but didn't start playing fiddle until about 1980." Alice comments that she has learned much by listening to other fiddlers and watching how they bowed, as well as sitting at the edge of a group, trying to match the notes they played. She has taken several workshops from Carol Ann Wheeler, as well as from Dale Morris and various members of OOTFA. The first fiddle tune Alice played was Faded Love, which she learned by listening to others and playing along. At the time she answered the questionnaire, her favorite tune was Milk Cow Blues.

INSTRUMENTS, VENUES

In addition to fiddle, Alice plays piano, guitar, and spoons. She prefers a guitarist with good timing for backup. Alice enjoys playing for dances, other programs, and at regular fiddle jams. She plays occasionally in church and has played for several funerals and a wedding reception.

FIDDLE CONTESTS

Alice enjoys attending and playing in fiddle contests. Her first entry was a Canyonville, Oregon contest in the mid 1980's. She had a guitar accompanist. Alice made the first cut at Weiser in 1997. She prefers not to judge fiddle contests due to the stress element, but feels that a good judge has knowledge of music, fiddling styles, and timing, even if they are not a fiddler themselves (although it helps).

STYLE

Alice describes her style as old time, but she also enjoys swing. Old time styles seem to be prevalent in her area.

THE INSTRUMENT

Alice plays an Amati copy violin, with a mellow, loud, overall good sound. She has tried to use several shoulder rests, but none seem to fit her well. Currently she uses an inflatable rest. Alice prefers Prim strings. She notes that her husband, Lew (also on this anthology), takes care of maintenance on her fiddles.

WHY DO YOU PLAY THE FIDDLE?

"For the pleasure of the music and the people."

THE TUNES

Alice chose to record Roxanna Waltz and Thompson's Rag; she learned both by listening to others play them. Backup is provided by Bob Church and Cactus Finley (guitars); Chuck Gates (bass); and Ida Colby (piano).