Dakota Karper – interview + tunes

Sharing the Conversation


It is a natural human instinct to want to express yourself. To feel that you are heard and will not be forgotten when your time on earth is done. We find many ways to express ourselves – long winded words, striking visual art, dance and other physical feats. Certainly my favorite way is through music. 

Newly opened in July of 2019, The Cat and The Fiddle is a roots music school setting out to help many in their ambitions to express themselves musically. Though many styles are encouraged… blues, bluegrass, jazz and irish to name a few… without a doubt as the owner I am bias towards the focus of oldtime music. When it comes to expression, I find no better medium that oldtime music. If you find yourself lucky, you just might stumble into one of those magical oldtime jams where music has gone beyond just one person telling their story, and has become a full and fluid conversation passing back and forth from one player to the next, all without words. 

The Cat and The Fiddle is a music school focused on preserving traditional music. We believe this preservation comes not by putting something in a box on display, but by making it common and manageable so that people of all ages can come to learn and love it. Besides the year round private lessons offered on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass, vocals and piano, we strive to be a gathering place for musicians both locally and for those traveling, by filling our schedule with jams and workshops and maybe even the occasional house concert.

Oldtime music is known for its welcoming and inclusive nature. It can be easy within just a few months of picking up an instrument to be able to string together the notes of a tune, and be a part of a jam circle. This is simply the greeting and ‘hello’ though. To continue the conversation of music, we encourage people to not stop when they have simply learned how to play a tune correctly. My highest aspiration at The Cat and The Fiddle is to be a place where people are being equipped with the tools and techniques necessary for success and then they are actively taking the initiative to find their own musical voice. A place for students to become masters and for music to grow to that frenzied, passionate, unspeakable groove. I have seen that moment in my students when for the first time they really get it and that spark ignites. I look forward to seeing it many times more in the years to come. 

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I’m faced with the question of ‘Where does The Cat and The Fiddle fit into the global oldtime community?’. I think that question is too big. Though enjoyed across the world, oldtime music isn’t that big. Oldtime music is that perfect small jam where people simply connect. We fit into the worldwide picture quite plainly by being a part of making one or two of those people appear in the jam circle who otherwise may not have discovered oldtime music. The Cat and The Fiddle is bringing new voices into the conversation of oldtime music.

Text by Dakota Karper


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