"You know, time stops when you pick!"
Chester MacMillan, Fiddle Tunes 2008
Of the many great quotes that surfaced during Fiddle Tunes 2008, this is perhaps my favorite.
Chester hit the nail on the head with this one! We are all chained to time in various ways, worrying about schedules, trying to make deadlines, wishing we were older or younger, resisting the imposition of time or succumbing to it, often missing the things that matter while focusing on the moments in which they are about to happen or just happened, ignoring the essential reality that each moment itself exists outside of time, in a permanent ever-happening now.
Music is an instant ticket to the present, to a place where time, as Chester says, simply stops. Get out your fiddle and wave it goodbye. You can always invite it back on your own terms when you’re good and ready. And it will always serve you, rather than you serving it, if you allow music a central place in your life.
This year at Fiddle Tunes we saw the illusion of time exposed. The 80 – 90 year old set played some of the most spirited music of the week while the award for least sleep/most music, including full tuition for next year, went to 13-year-old fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves, whose playing comes from a deep well that can only be described as timeless.
Fiddle Tunes founder Bertram Levy described the phenomenon as older players (such as Earl Murphy, 91, and Harold Luce, 89) reaching towards modernity while younger players (such as De Temps Antan and The Pine Leaf Boys) reached towards antiquity. There were bridges being built everywhere and crossings happening at all hours of the day and night. We all made it to the same place, regardless.
Reluctantly, I will make one mention of actual time. The last jam session I know of started at 6:30 AM on Sunday morning (by players for whom it was still Saturday night) and went for about an hour or so before everyone involved went to the beach. During this session a person showed up whom several people called "the best dancer I’ve ever seen."
I don’t know who he was. It remains a mystery, a wonderful mystery that on the last day of the event a person would show up and dance for an hour that has burned itself into the minds of those present as the pinnacle of one means of expression.
The memories of those moments, when forces converge and timeless experiences surface, will still be there when we’re 90, and may inspire us then, like Earl and Harold, to get out the fiddle and give it another good lash. And, if things keep going like they did at Fiddle Tunes 2008, there’ll be quite a few members of 13-year-old set there to hear it.