The Old-Time Herald Volume 8, Number 3

Feature

Del-Se-Nango Fiddlers:
A Bastion of Old-Time Music in Central New York

by Lynn Arthur Koch

In an age when electronic media dominate our work lives and leisure time, it’s refreshing to know there are still some people whose idea of a good time on Saturday night is to go to the local dance hall and do sets of squares to live music played by capable amateur musicians. That’s what happens on a regular basis in the quiet community of McDonough (pronounced mic-dough-nuh), located in the heartland of Central New York. At least once a month, musicians from Chenango and surrounding counties come together in this hamlet on County Route 5 to the Music Haven, home of the Del-Se-Nango Olde-Tyme Fiddlers Association, Inc. There they play in a loosely formed band performing old-time fiddle tunes and calling traditional dances for the 30 or so locals who come in for a night of good old-fashioned entertainment.

The Fiddlers was the brainchild of the late Marjorie Crawford, a vivacious woman who loved old-time music and wanted to see it carried on as a living tradition in rural upstate New York. With four other like-minded people, she founded the Fiddlers in 1977 and began to host monthly gatherings of musicians and dancers at any of the regional establishments with a dance floor big enough to accommodate several sets of squares. The name Crawford and friends chose for their organization is an amalgamation of the names of the counties of residence of its founding members: Delaware, Otsego, and Chenango. Though it has had its ups and downs in attendance and support, the Fiddlers still endeavors to achieve Crawford’s purpose for the organization: to "preserve, perpetuate and promote the art of old tyme [sic] fiddling as well as keep alive and record for posterity the songs, melodies and dances of our ancestors."

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