Press About The Berkshires

Filmmaker John Cohen to Screen Films at 2nd Annual Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention at Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock, MA, April 15, 2019. Hancock Shaker Village and Oldtone Productions are making the historic village in Hancock, MA a destination for lovers of old-time music and art with the 2nd annual Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention. A film screening of two of John Cohen’s rarer films, Musical Holdouts (1975) and Post Industrial Fiddle (1982), followed by a Q&A, will open the weekend. Cohen is well known in the traditional music community as a musician, photographer, and filmmaker. The Smithsonian Folkways Network’s film Play On, John: A Life in Music (2009) is about his work and accomplishments researching, playing, and documenting traditional music.

Adhering to the concept of “participation is preservation,” the Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention will feature the Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen as the host musicians. The Down Hill Strugglers (Eli Smith, Jackson Lynch, and Walker Shepard) are featured on the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, produced by T-Bone Burnett. Smith produces the annual Brooklyn Folk Festival and Washington Square Park Folk Festival and hosts the Down Home Radio Show podcast, which is available at The band will perform as well as teach workshops on banjo, fiddle, guitar, and storytelling. Erika Ludwig, founder Berkshire Strings, will teach a beginning fiddle class and co-ordinate the instrument and band contests.

“We’ve expanded the event to start on Friday evening and end on Sunday afternoon, with camping as an option. Old-time music lovers like to settle in and play music with their friends all weekend long,” said organizer Jim Wright.

“Last year we tested the waters with a one-day, old-fashioned Fiddlers’ Convention,” said Hancock Shaker Village Director Jennifer Trainer Thompson. “It was loads of fun, with young and old picking strings under the trees, in the barn, and alongside buildings. This old-time music brought the Village alive in a way that is consistent with the Shakers, who wrote over 25,000 songs. We are delighted to give it vitamins and make it a weekend-long annual June event.”

Workshops will start Saturday morning. Instrument contests (a highlight of the weekend) will start in the afternoon, followed by an early evening band contest. The festivities continue with a concert by the Down Hill Strugglers and a square dance called by Alex Kramer. Sunday the Down Hill Strugglers will play old time gospel songs, and Seeds Market Cafe will have brunch available.

In addition to the musical events and opportunities to jam, Hancock Shaker Village will be offering a variety of workshops and demonstrations, also open to Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention participants. Sky View Farm and Seeds Cafe will be offering locally sourced food.

The Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention is sponsored by Big Elm Brewery, Bright Ideas Brewing, and No Depression.

Hancock Shaker Village is located at 1843 West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield, MA.

For tickets and information:

Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention

For instrument and band contest registration:

The Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen (Photo: Giles Clement)