Fiddler Keith Hunt performs Sunday

Published Jul 13, 2017 at 4:00pm

Keith Hunt, of Camillus, the 2011 Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame NY State inductee will play a wide mix of traditional familiar and not so familiar fiddle music, Sunday, July 16, 2-5 p.m., at the North American Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame, 1121 Comins Rd., Osceola.

He will be accompanied by his wife, Judy, on concertina and by Camden residents Jessie Gotham on piano, Alan Chrysler on guitar and Bob Abrams on bass. This free concert is funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NY State Legislature.

Keith Hunt was born on Wellesley Island in the 1000 Islands and grew up listening to regular radio broadcasts of fiddling by the legendary Canadian Don Messer and many others during the 1940s. “I never dreamed a day would come when we would no longer be able regularly listen to live fiddle music on the radio,” Keith laments.

As a child, Keith also absorbed the traditional fiddle music played at the island round and square dances, where his father played plectrum banjo to the sweet fiddling of talented neighbor, “Eenie” Enoch Root and piano player, Jenny Brown. One day Eenie brought over a fiddle for young Keith and probably suggested to his parents “Let Keith see what he can do with this...” Frustrated by his unsuccessful attempts to learn without any instruction, Keith switched learning to play fiddle tunes on a tenor banjo, also donated by Eenie.  

In 1978, Keith discovered the New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers’ Association and heard that much admired Eleanor Townsend would be giving a beginners’ class at a Fiddler’s Picnic. On inquiring about a teacher who could help him continue learning, he was put in touch with the late Telleta Atwell, who taught him the basics of fiddling in several weekly visits to her summer camp on Oneida Lake. He faithfully practiced what she taught him and finally became able to play fiddle tunes on the fiddle. 

Keith has danced and called square, contra and international dances since his college days and he also will play some international tunes in Sunday’s concert. He currently serves as president of the NYSOTFA, along with his wife, Judy, the secretary. 

During the concert, patrons are encouraged to visit the Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame and Museum and check out newly digitized historic fiddle performances. All facilities are handicapped accessible and the performance pavilion is enclosable in the event of bad weather. Refreshments are available from a food vendor and may be enjoyed under umbrella tables on the patio that adjoins the Pavilion.