Pure Dead Brilliant Fiddle Weekend started in 2007 as a small retreat/workshop for advanced fiddle players in the Scottish scene. It is the original vision of Hanneke Cassel, Jerry Bell, and Nancy Bell and has taken on a life of its own over the years. Hanneke remains as director and is surrounded by an incredible team of people who pretty much do everything.
PDB is moving to the lovely location of Grotonwood this year in Groton, MA and we finally have some room this year to expand a little.
The goal of PDB is to encourage and inspire musicians to push the boundaries in their own playing – creatively, technically, and EMOTIONALLY. We learn a lot of tricky tunes, we stay up all night jamming in the kitchen, and we get in LOTS of conversations.
We have a designated slow jam time early in the morning and we have some classes that move at a slower pace labeled “I JUST WANNA CHILL!” Things move fast at PDB and there is an expectation that if something is out of your comfort level, you will embrace the opportunity to sit back, learn what you can, let some of it go, and be content to listen, dance, chat, or party in some other pure dead brilliant way while the notes whirl around you.
The weekend operates in a spirit of generosity and collaboration. IF YOU REALLY want to do something (like play tunes only in Eb for an hour or play only slow airs) and you don’t see it on the schedule, grab some friends, go find a room, and make it happen.
In the past, PDB has been geared towards advanced players who are at least 16 years old. We don’t have kid-specific activities, but we do have classes and jams for advanced students of ANY AGE. Attendees under 18 are required to have a guardian (a paid participant) with them at the weekend. If you are under 16, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll sort out if this is the right scene for you!
Scottish & Cape Breton fiddling is at the center of this scene. Other styles have been known to sneak in… YOU ARE ALLOWED to play Irish, Swedish, Finnish… even Old Time. But the music of Scotland holds our hearts and you will definitely get bonus points if you start an ALL STRATHSPEY JAM. Oh and also… no bluegrass. Just kidding. No actually we’re not.
PDB is a sheet-music free learning zone (If you ask for it, you will be forced into a small room with a bagpipe playing Road to Errogie in B major -- for minimum of 7 hours.)
Glorious. Nancy Bell is in charge and the kitchen experience (the making, the eating, and the jamming while it’s being made) is... pure dead brilliant. FOOD is a central experience to the weekend, and there will be plenty of opportunities to help out if YOU WANT TO!
If you would like to make a donation to the scholarship fund of Pure Dead Brilliant Fiddle Weekend, send a check PAYABLE TO HANNEKE CASSEL to:
PO BOX 441431
West Somerville, MA 02144-1431
Donations over $350 are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE and can be made here: