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The San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers

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Musical Director

Alasdair Fraser

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We are the
San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers

The San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers was formed in 1986 when Alasdair Fraser placed an advertisement in a local newspaper looking for people interested in sharing Scottish fiddle music. A small group of enthusiasts quickly gathered, which in the years since has grown to over 250 members. Most of us live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, but we have members from all over California and beyond, even some overseas.

We hold monthly meetings in private homes and community halls from San Jose in the south to Healdsburg in the north and as far as Nevada City to the east. In addition to sharing the music among ourselves at the monthly meetings and our several weekend retreats, we also come together to perform publicly at farmers markets, festivals, and our annual Spring Concerts. In past years we've launched concert and cultural exchange tours within the United States and most recently back to Scotland herself.

Our musical explorations are not strictly limited to the Scottish. Anything Celtic is fair game, which of course includes Ireland, but also Galicia and Brittany. Scandinavia too wields its influence, Norway being only a few hundred miles across the North Sea from Scotland. The New World diaspora don't escape our attentions either, with a fair bit of our repertoire coming from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, and we've been known to dabble in Quebecois and even and Old Timey American tune or two.

All ages and levels of skill are welcome, and we count among our members total beginners and world-class professional musicians, wee bairns and the chronologically accomplished alike. We focus on learning tunes by ear and exploring the true language of the music, be it on the fiddle, cello, bass, guitar, mandolin, harp, flute, pennywhistle, drum, or voice (or the occaisonal harmonica, concertina, accordion, nyckelharpa, tenor banjo, and others). And yes, even the pipes make an appearance now and then.

There are no qualifications or prerequisites for joining the club, and membership dues for an individual or entire family or household are a modest $30 per year. In addition to the musical fellowship of our community and the opportunity to play in our public performances, membership in the club brings with it a subscription to our monthly newsletter with news of the goings-on within the club, listings of related events of interest, and sheetmusic for selected Tunes of the Month. The club also maintains an archive of the music that forms the main body of our repertoire, which members can purchase in printed form.

We are a volunteer-run organization under the auspices of The Scottish Fiddlers of California, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation (#95-4063752).

Annual Activities List

This is a summary of the main happenings in SFSF’s year.  Most of these events recur every year, but watch the newsletter for additions, details and changes. (This list does not include other Celtic happenings where SFSF is not specifically involved.)

Monthly Jam Session and Potluck Dinners

Club meetings take place at 2pm on the third Sunday of each month, and typically consist of both a slow and an open jam session, a business meeting, and a potluck dinner. Members take turns hosting the meetings at their homes or public halls in the greater Bay Area, typically within a 1-1/2 hr drive of San Francisco.

SFSF’s Calendar

(This outlines a typical year of events, rather than predicting exactly what will happen in any given year.)

January
Burns Night dinner with tunes, songs and poems celebrating Robert Burns’ birthday.

February
Winter Weekend, a 3-day musical retreat at Bishop's Ranch, Healdsburg. (Presidents’ Day weekend, pre-registration required, space limited. Nominations for officers usually take place at Winter Weekend.)

April
Rehearsals for spring concerts begin.

May
Annual Spring Concerts

June
Sierra Fiddle Camp draws many SFSF members.

August
Many SFSF members attend Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School during the last week of August.

September
Pleasanton Highland Games, Sunday of Labor Day weekend, immediately after Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School.

October
Autumn Weekend, another 3-day loosely structured retreat, currently held in Inverness (in California on Tomales Bay, not in Scotland).

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