Northwest roots bring fiddle guru Darol Anger to Olympia Friday

Fiddle guru Darol Anger gathers his ‘fam’ to put on a holiday show Friday

Contributing writerDecember 20, 2013 

Darol Anger, center, and Emy Phelps, right, are among the performers at Anger’s Keep-It-in-the-Fam Holiday Show at Olympia Ballroom on Friday.

COURTESY OF DAROL ANGER

Fiddle icon Darol Anger is traveling home for the holidays this season, and South Sound music fans will be the ones getting a gift.

Anger, who’s known for his impact on fiddling across genres and borders, grew up in Seattle, and he’s bringing his musical family back to the Northwest for the Keep-It-in-the-Fam Holiday Show. The combination holiday visit and mini tour makes an Olympia stop Friday.

“I can’t tell you how many ‘How did you get Darol Anger in Olympia?’ comments I have received,” said Daniel Landin, who produces the shows at the Olympia Ballroom. “He is considered a national treasure in the realm of string players.”

The answer, of course, is roots.

“Everybody in the show either lived in Washington or Oregon or is a native of there, which is really cool because everybody’s back for the holidays anyway,” Anger said in a phone interview last week. “It was a perfect opportunity to do a Christmas show.”

“The fam” includes bass player Ethan Jodziewicz, an Olympia native. Jodziewicz is a new addition to the family, so to speak. “He is quite the phenomenal musician,” Anger said.

Also in the lineup are singer-songwriter Emy Phelps, Anger’s fiancée; Phelps’ daughter Mila Phelps-Friedl, a cellist; fiddling brother and sister Alex and Tatiana Hargreaves; and Joy Kills Sorrow’s Wes Corbett on banjo and Jake Jolliff on mandolin.

“I’m not blood relatives with any of these folks, but I feel like I’m their crazy uncle,” said Anger, who lives in the Boston area and teaches at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. “I relate to them that way. Emy and I are going to be riding herd on them. We’re the parental figures of the show.

“We’ll be saying, ‘OK, kids, simmer down back there.’ ”

Anger, founder of such influential groups as Turtle Island String Quartet and Montreux, is known for crossing musical boundaries. He’s equally known as both violinist (jazz and classical) and fiddler (folk and bluegrass).

He’s had such an impact on the instrument that he took up almost by mistake.

“It could have been any instrument, really,” he said. “It just happened to be the fiddle. I have somewhat of a talent for it.

“I’m in that age group that got into music because of the Beatles,” he said. “I really did start with a guitar. I took up the violin because I could not press the strings down on the neck of the guitar that my parents bought me. Fiddle seemed like it was going to be easier. That, of course, was my first mistake.”

He won’t be sticking to the fiddle Friday night, he said. “I may be a playing a lot of mandolin in this show because we have a lot of great fiddle players,” he said. “I’ll be bouncing around being master of ceremonies. I might sing some.

“I won’t do too much of that,” he added. “I don’t want to scare anybody off.”

The holiday show will include an eclectic mix of traditional songs, holiday and spiritual songs and hits from the ’60s. Anger mentioned both “Greensleeves” and Laura Nyro’s “When I Die.”

“It’s going to be a really fun, crazy, nutty event – a little mini festival in one night,” he said.

Darol Anger’s Keep-It-in- the-Fam Holiday Show

What: Renowned fiddler and composer Darol Anger and singer-songwriter Emy Phelps lead a group of Northwest natives, including Olympia native Ethan Jodziewicz, in a rollicking holiday bluegrass concert.

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Olympia Ballroom, 116 Legion Way, Olympia

Tickets: $12 at brownpapertickets.com/event/519175, $15 at the door

Information: olympiaballroom.com

Watch: Anger and Phelps, who are engaged to be married, play love songs together at youtube.com/watch?v= mohA5emcWH0.

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