VACAVILLE — Alaska’s Fiddling Poet predicts “a lot of great stuff,” some of it done off the cuff, when he stops by the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre on Feb. 21.
Ken Waldman will be joined by friends Kevin Carr and Ray Bierl at the performance. Carr just happens to be a member of Wake the Dead, a Celtic All-Star Grateful Dead jam band. Bierl is a singer, guitarist and fiddler, based in Oakland.
The show will feature the three performing solo, as duets and as a trio. Poetry will definitely be included, Waldman said. Not just poetry, though, but poetry with an accompaniment.
Earlier the same day, Waldman is slated to sit down with some children at Glen Cover Elementary School in Vallejo and introduce them to the fiddle and poetry. If past events such as this are an indication, the children will love the stringed instrument.
“Kids instinctively like fiddle music,” Waldman said.
They’ll most likely ask him when he learned to play. He was in his 20s. Waldman will tell them getting their fingers on a fiddle when they are 9 or 10 is even better.
Waldman left the East Coast 30 years ago and headed west, settling in Seattle, then Alaska. Life there brings him a sense of freedom, and a lot less traffic than the Bay Area, he said.
The weather is tough, but not as bad as it’s often portrayed, Waldman said.
In 1996, in the midst of a tour, the plane Waldman was traveling in crashed in Alaska.
“It happened quick,” he said. “The weather was bad. It (the plane) hit a hill and clipped it.”
Waldman walked away with a concussion – and a story that people always seem to find interesting. The Vacaville audience is likely to hear the story, in much more detail.
A former college professor, Waldman has published several books including poetry collections, a memoir and nine CDs that blend Appalachian-style string band music with original poetry.
He’s sitting on eight other books, looking for a publisher. Waldman’s advice for aspiring writers, and fiddlers, is the same. Practice.
“The hardest part is getting a fiddle and being comfortable with it,” he said. “You have to make it part of your daily routine. The same with writers. If you want to write, you have to be a reader at some point. You need to be writing regularly.”
Rather than sightseeing, Waldman uses his time on the road to check in with friends who live in the area and get acquainted with the community where he’s performing.
Before leaving Vacaville, Waldman will host a poetry workshop at 10 a.m. Feb. 22 at the Vacaville Town Square Library.
This is his first visit to Solano County. For information about the school visit and poetry workshop, call 421-8075 or visit www.solanolibrary.com.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.