Ten Pound Fiddle launches virtual concert archive

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To check out the digital concert series visit tenpoundfiddle.org.

In lieu of a traditional concert season — all previously announced shows have been pushed back to 2021 — Ten Pound Fiddle is using its website to host a digital season of live recordings captured at concerts from the past decade.

Longtime Fiddle booking mastermind Sally Potter Each said the concerts have been handpicked for their quality, so folk music fans will have access to recordings straight from the soundboard, mastered and edited by Matt Watroba, that represent the best of the best Ten Pound Fiddle concerts. The web page dedicated to the recordings also provides links for people to donate directly — Ten Pound Fiddle does not collect a percentage — to the featured performing artists. The first concerts featured by the digital season are performances in 2010 and 2013 by The Steel Wheels.

“We have most of the Ten Pound Fiddle shows recorded. This was all done with the permission of the artists. All we’ve ever done with them is save them,” Potter said. “We have a stack of CDs from the last 10 or 15 years. I went through and picked a wide variety of fabulous shows.”

Like all arts institutions, Ten Pound Fiddle suffered a massive blow from the coronavirus. Potter said it was a tough process to postpone shows and say goodbye to an entire season of concerts, community sings and Fiddle Scout meetings.

“We are calling this year a sabbatical. The live music industry is wondering when the crowds can come back. Booking agents aren’t sure when they can spend their time to book events. It’s tragic,” Potter said.

Potter cited European countries such as Germany as being closer to the overall normalcy necessary for the return of live music and concert halls, and expressed frustration with the federal government’s slow response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“In Germany, people are coming to concert halls and standing 6 feet apart. They are incredibly careful. They’re inching their way back to what we used to do. We aren’t even close,” Potter said.

With the downtime, Potter said Ten Pound Fiddle will instead focus on three projects: building an archive of Fiddle-related literature, interviewing important figures that helped build Ten Pound Fiddle and, eventually, publishing a magazine that commemorates its upcoming 50th anniversary. Potter said a lot of the materials are being preserved by Michigan State University’s Special Collections.

With musicians across the board facing tough times, Ten Pound Fiddle managed to provide some pay to the artists who had scheduled appearances in Lansing postponed. Checks totaling over $4,000 were mailed out back in March, when the pandemic began. The payments were possible, Potter said, because the majority of ticketholders generously chose not to request refunds.

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