DVD -- Orders -- Contact -- About Us -- Link


New England's Puritanism has never been more than skin deep. -Alan Lomax


DVD $14.95
  New England Fiddles (1984) presents seven of the finest traditional musicians as they play in their homes and at dances and contests, passing their styles to younger fiddlers, and commenting on their music. Featured are Ron West (Yankee), Paddy Cronnin (Irish), Ben Guillemette(Quebecois), Wilfred Guillette (Quebecois), Harold Luce (Yankee), Gerry Robichaud (Maritime), and the Cape Breton style of Joe Cormier (National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts).

New England Fiddles is a terrific film, and it will help share with the world a secret: New England has some of the finest traditional fiddling anywhere! Thanks for creating such a thoughtful, spirited film to explore the range, depth and energy of fiddling in New England. --Alan Jabbour

John Bishop and Nick Hawes take us past the solemn facade of clambakes and town meetings into a lively world of all night dances, kitchen suppers, and local musicians who could have helped Daniel Webster play down the Devil. With it's quadrille like structure, this documentary whirls us from fiddler to fiddler in a rising climax of musical and cinematic excitement. --Alan Lomax

Like the best art, John Bishop's films speak for themselves. New England Fiddles takes its place in a body of work that deals uncompromisingly with the roots of today's popular music, and portrays with insight and affection both a genre and its creators. --Peter Guralnick

...a fascinating film about how people's lives relate to the music they make. --Pete Seeger

American Anthropologist review by Nick Spitzer



New England Dances (1989) is a spirited visit to some old dances, focusing on the callers and musicians who make them happen. It features Phil Johnson calling squares in Lebanon, Maine with the Maple Sugar band; John Campbell and Norman MacEachern at the Canadian Club in Watertown, Massachusetts; William Chaisson and Joe Cormier at the French American Victory Club in Waltham, Massachusetts; Arcade Richard and Victor Albert in Leominster, Massachusetts doing quadrilles; and Charley Mitchell at the Blue Goose in Northport, Maine doing contra dances. Also included are some bravura dance sequences by Irish step dancers Liam Harney and Deirdre Goulding, and Cape Breton step dancer Harvey Beaton.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK... and sermon of the week
New England Fiddles - produced by John Bishop and Portland's own Nicholas Hawes I have it on videotape and DVD and I've watched it a million times. What a sweet visit John and Nick take us on, through a variety of the older traditional music styles and communities in the NE. The film was made in 1983 so the emphasis is by default on the old guys. And thank God for that!  Watch for Jerry Robichaud in the middle of the show. All you contra dance fiddlers who get this newsletter, pay attention to Robichaud's brilliance and vitality. Since so many of you are old friends of mine I feel I can chastise you a little bit. Modern contra dance fiddling is, of course, part and parcel of Northeastern fiddling, but sometimes you'd never know it. Contemporary contra music can de-emphasize the fiddle and the melody, and the music in general simply does not kick ass in the way that other North American traditional dance music does. Go back and listen to Robichaud, listen a lot. Later in the film is another electrifying fiddler, Joe Cormier. Here he plays Canada's French and Scottish music for Maritimes dancers, but you can find recordings of him playing blazing contra dance style fiddling. There are others like Two Fiddles in New Hampshire. As an arbitrary discipline, pick the older musicians to listen to. They will keep your music honest, and vital. I say vital because the older fiddlers are playing close and personally out of long regional traditions. Give yourself a base deep in traditional contra dance music, a base you can then grow out of. If your models, your mentors, are the other "kids" around you, the newer hotshot experimental young musicians, then your dance music will be derivative in the worst sense, weak, lacking in the kind of kick ass we get to enjoy with our southern style bands at the square dances. Don't copy southern old-time, reconnect to the old NE guys and then progress forward.

Bill Martin





Sold for individual use. Please contact Documentary Educational Resources for institutional use.



  • 11 tunes (21 minutes) from the out takes
  • 8 minutes of Simon St. Pierre, the remarkable fiddler from Northern Maine, during his 1983 Washington DC trip to accept a National Heritage Award, (footage from the Alan Lomax Archive)
  • the filmmaker talks about making the films.
  • An annotated transcript of New England Fiddles is included as a PDF text file.


1985 Royal Anthropological Institute Festival of Ethnographic Film, London
1985 Melbourne International Film Festival
1984 Society for Visual Anthropology

Fiddle links-
The Old Time Herald
Country Dance & Song Society


2825 SE Harrison St, Portland, OR 97214
(503) 233-4047