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 co-op 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. One of my COVID projects was to digitize the cuts on the vinyl record, and upload the whole thing to YouTube. You can hear it here. Everest Witman's wonderful ears and technical abilities made this possible.

I have been lucky enough to play with many 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, Lisa Sieverts and others. 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 was one-third of The Full Catastrophe.

Since July 2021 I have been collecting and learning contemporary fiddle tunes composed by women, after I suddenly realized that I had a huge contemporary tune repertoire and that less than 4% had been composed by women. If you are interested in that project, reach out to me.

I find myself now in two new bands: Scandi! is a 2-fiddle 1-accordion trio playing music from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, France and other places and traditions, with Mary Cay Brass on accordion and Mary Lea on fiddle. Trois Amis is a 1-fiddel, accordion + piano trio - or sometimes 2-accordion + 1-fiddle - trio where Mary Cay Brass and Andy Davis switch off on piano and accordion, and both of them sing. I sit in the middle and play the fiddle. A true one-trick pony.

Starting on January 1, 2023 - as soon as the year turns in Kiribati (an island country in Oceania, the first place to celebrate the New Year) a new fiddle tune project will launch. Read about it here:

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"