Old Fiddler’s Club of Rhode Island – A Brief History
The Old Fiddlers Club of Rhode Island (OFCRI) is a group of amateur fiddlers who have been performing at country fairs and town concerts throughout Rhode Island, eastern Connecticut and Massachusetts since the early twentieth century. The photo below, given to us by the family of Rhode Island master fiddler Frank Moon, shows our predecessors at their grand annual reunion on October 12, 1912 in Harrisville, RI. Seventeen years later this same group would incorporate as the Old Fiddlers Club of RI (OFCRI) currently in their 90th year of fiddling. Incidentally Frank Moon was a member of OFCRI for more than 70 years.
Frank wrote this brief history of our club many years ago. It remains as accurate as ever. By the way, you can learn more about Frank on the Gone to Glory page in our Photo Gallery menu above.
It has been the custom of fiddle players for ages to get together and play fiddle tunes and learn new ones.
On August 4th, 1929, a group of fiddle players met at Waterman’s Hall, Greenville, R.I. for the purpose of forming a “Club for Fiddling.” The name selected for the club was “Old Fiddler’s Club of Rhode Island.” The purpose of the club was to promote and keep alive the interest in old-fashion music.
The club played for outings, granges, and the like, sometimes passing the hat or going 50/50 on the take at the door. They played a lot of evening concerts, followed by dancing.
During the war years the Club was dormant and the balance in the treasury was $30.00. In 1946 a handful of members met and decided to continue with the Club. One of the locations we player was the Woodstock Fair starting in 1947, and we have played their ever since. This year will mark 52 years at this fair.
To the best of our knowledge the Old Fiddler’s Club of Rhode Island is the oldest continuing fiddle club of its kind in the United States. The charter has been renewed faithfully for the last 70 years and we hope the Club will survive another 70 years.
Below is a photo of our original charter signed by Ernest L. Sprague, Rhode Island Secretary of State, on September 6, 1929.