The Goschenhoppen Fiddlers played over the weekend at Once upon a Time, a celebration of Montgomery County history at the Stanbridge Street park complex in East Norriton. Group leader and fiddle player Carl Baron says they play old-time music from the 18th and 19th centuries, including a few tunes by local composers, and he plays it because he likes it.
“It’s something that touches me. I can’t tell you why I love this music more than I love other music. I just love to play it, I love the people I play it with. It’s a music that’s very social. It’s played with a community sort of in mind. Right now the community is kind of spread out because of the automobile. There are more than a hundred old-time musicians in the Greater Philadelphia area. We all party, play, jam together and it’s a very social thing. We all feed each other, play for dances. I’m retired and I stay busy playing music.”
Baron says the music, largely of Pennsylvania German origin, has been passed down through the generations, and they try to keep it as authentic as they can. The sponsor was the W.S. Hancock Society, and that group’s founder and Executive Director, Karen Stocking, says they wanted to bring together different historical societies from across the county.
“We feel, and it’s been our experience, that Historical Societies take their history and hold it really close to their vests, and when they do that not only do the other citizens of the county not get the history, but the kids don’t get the history, and that is our main focus. We really want the kids to get the history because when the history’s gone the county’s gone.”
Stocking says the schools teach very little, if anything, about Montgomery County’s very rich history, and the W-S Hancock Society is trying to get out the word.