I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Don Roy several times over the years so when I heard that his project Fiddle-icious was performing as part of the Concerts at Jewett series I knew I had to reconnect to find out more about this popular group.

Back in 2000, Roy began teaching and in 2003 Fiddle-icious was born. I asked the master fiddler in a recent interview from his Gorham home about his non-profit, all volunteer community organization and their upcoming appearance at Cony High School.

Q: I understand a Fiddle-icious concert will be held at Cony as opposed to Jewett Hall, correct?

Roy: Yes.

Q: They’re probably expecting a bigger crowd that couldn’t fit in Jewett Hall, I well imagine.

Roy: Well, the size of the stage at Jewett can’t hold 90 people.

Q: Ninety people? That’s a large group!

Roy: It is. It’s bigger than the Portland Symphony.

Q: Does it keep growing?

Roy: It grows a little bit each year. People come and go, but it’s been around 80 to 90 for the last 10 years, and that’s just who participates in the concerts because there’s over 140 on the roster.

Q: So what determines whether they perform or not?

Roy: Whether they can or if they want to. Availability, pretty much. We encourage everyone to take it out to the end if they can, but a lot of people go away for the winter or something.

Q: How many times does Fiddle-icious perform over the course of the year?

Roy: Just four times. It’s basically an educational program where we teach new music from January to the end of June. Then starting in August we go through everything and put it into sets in concert format, and at the end of October every year we do four concerts. The money made at those concerts all goes to help fund the project. Since its inception in 2000 no one has ever been paid a penny — any who run this group, including myself. So it’s totally free to the community and we run on donations.

Q: It sounds like a labor of love on your part.

Roy: Pretty much, yeah.

Q: What is the make-up of the group? Fiddles, I would imagine.

Roy: Yeah, it’s mostly four-stringed instruments, but we do have seven or eight basses and a half-a-dozen cellos and some guitars and mandolins. We’ve got a few accordions. We’ve got a flute and a clarinet and a saxophone this year. We’ve got tin whistles. Banjos also. We’ve got most every traditional instrument that you can think of. Of course there’s a piano in there, too.

Q: As far as the repertoire goes, is it all traditional music?

Roy: Yeah, and it’s strong in French and Cape Breton. (The group) is a place for people to go for a couple of hours a week and get away from reality, but really what it’s all about is the community and comradery. The music is just a medium to get them there. That’s what it’s grown into. There’s more friendships growing out of that thing.

Q: Is there a lot of rehearsing that goes into these programs?

Roy: No. We gather on Mondays. From January to the end of July we get together every other Monday, and in August we get together every Monday until the concerts in October.

Q: Where are the shows being held this year? One’s in Cony, that I know.

Roy: Yup, and one is at Gorham High School, the Franco Center in Lewiston and Mount Ararat in Topsham. And this year we’re doing a fifth one, actually. We’re teaming up with the Franklin County Fiddlers, a young group from Farmington. We’ll go and do a concert up there, too, and they’ll come down to Lewiston when we do that one.

Q: All of these performances will be happening in October, right?

Roy: Yeah, I can tell you exactly when they’re happening. The first concert is the 15th of October and that’s at Mount Ararat in Topsham, the 16th is Cony High School, the 21st is Farmington, the 22nd is Gorham, and the 23rd is Lewiston. And we finish off with a great big party at DaVinci’s.

Q: Is that a tradition, too?

Roy: It is, yeah.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this?

Roy: Yeah. One of the nicest things that people could do is pick up an elderly person and bring them to a concert. One of the things I like to hear a lot — and I hear it often — is someone say: “This brings me back to my childhood days when my grandfather was playing” or something like that. So this would be a nice way to get someone out of the house and treat them. Tickets are only like 10 bucks — they’re not expensive — and it pays for the rental of the hall the next year.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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