The Tune Police
The Tune Police: Laurie Indenbaum, Steve Voorhees, Mike Pattavina, Andy Davis, Deb Maynard

When I was a second-grader at Windsor Hills Elementary School, my friend Roberta Lampert signed up for violin lessons. I did it because she did it. I took lessons from the nice and very boring Mr. Swanson, who came to my house. Poor man, I can't have been any fun to teach.

I played in the orchestra at Windsor Hills, and at Audubon Jr. High School, but gave up when we moved to Beverly Hills. It wasn't until I was in Denmark during my junior year in college that I took it up again. As a foreign student at Vestbirk Højskole I had a Danish tutor, who assigned writing assignments. I wrote one little essay about having taken violin lessons as a kid, inspired by the fact that the headmaster, Jens Grøn, was a violinist. The next thing I knew, Forstander Grøn showed up at lunch with a violin for me to play and instructions to show up for orchestra. My language skills were not good enough to refuse. Here I am, playing in the orchestra.

Fateful! I had to re-learn how to play, which didn't take all that long, and then I realized how much fun I was having. That series of events set in motion all that came after - playing fiddle in LA after college, meeting Andy, moving to Vermont in 1976, joining Applejack.

At its peak, Applejack would get in the van on Friday afternoon and drive all over New England doing dances, weddings, parties, festivals, sometimes 3 or 4 gigs in a weekend, returning home early Monday morning. We played 3 Dawn Dances each year - New Year's, Memorial Day and Labor Day. At first Applejack was more of a coop than a band, with numerous callers, fiddlers, and backup musicians. We could be at 3 different gigs at the same time. Eventually it boiled down to four of us: Jill Newton, me, Andy Toepfer and Michael McKernan. With Bob McQuillen, we recorded an album of his original tunes that was released in 1979.

I have been lucky enough to play with other callers - Fred Breunig, Richard Blazej, Tony Parkes, Tim Van Egmond, David Millstone, Kathy Torrey, Mary DesRosiers, Mary Wesley, Rich Sbardella, Amy Cann, Andy Davis, Peter Amidon. I've played for weekends and festivals at Pinewoods, at Upper Potomac Music Weekends, at Fox Hollow, at Star Hampshire.

Since Applejack broke up, as all bands eventually do, I have been a member of other bands - ones with enough gigs to have names - The Tune Police, New England Swing, Hidden Drive, Turkey Mountain Window Smashers, The Fogues. Most recently, with Andy Davis and Jim Fownes, I am now one-third of The Full Catastrophe.

My fiddling style is a hybrid of New England / Quebec / Southern with some Scandinavian mixed in. I don't worry too much about authenticity in my own playing. I didn't learn the tunes from my grandma or my aunt; I'm the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island in the early 1900s, there was no traditional music that I grew up with. I love fiddle tunes, each one is special.

“I know more tunes than the man in the moon,
And each flying phrase is a sweet, living thing,
But I’d lay down this fiddle, just once could I hear
My Dad’s Aunt Susan sing.”

Pete Sutherland, "Aunt Sue"