The annual "Fiddlers Picnic" hosted by the New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers Association, c. 1978
A Lifelong Passion
Chad was first introduced to fiddling when he was a young boy during the mid to late 1970's. His grandparents would bring Chad along for a weekend-long event held every July that included camping and fiddling during the annual "Fiddlers Picnic" in Osceola, NY. The "Fiddlers Picnic" hosted by the New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers Association (NYSOTFA) is still held every last full weekend in July in Osceola, NY at the North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame and Museum. As a young boy at this fiddling event, Chad enjoyed playing in a nearby brook, camping with family and running around with other kids. The cheerful sound of fiddle music combined with the family fun and excitement these large events offered are fond memories for Chad. The special guest artists from Canada really made an impression on Chad. Artists like Graham and Eleanor Townsend, Ed Gyurki, Tony Burtnik and others inspired Chad to become a fiddler himself. He started taking violin lessons in school, but found the formal style and note reading uninspiring. Eventually he began taking fiddle lessons from Winifred "Murph" Baker. Murph was an old time, dyed in the wool fiddler who grew up fiddling in Champion, NY. Due to this locale, he always considered himself and other fiddlers from the town of Champion, "Champion fiddlers". Murph learned to fiddle from another "Champion fiddler" named Leonard Erastus Harris. Many of the fiddle tunes Murph learned were by listening to his mother accompany Mr. Harris at local dances when he was a boy. Murph taught Chad to play "by ear" and with the use of cassette recordings he made for Chad to take home and practice along with. Prior to owning a fiddle of his own, Chad's great grandfather, K. Roger Richmond (also a fiddler then living in Florida) sent up his fiddle for Chad to learn with. Seeing how dedicated to fiddling Chad was, his maternal grandfather, Ezra Cooper surprised him one day when he presented him with a brand new fiddle that he bought for him. Murph passed away in 1986 when Chad was sixteen years old. After Murph's passing, Chad lost his mentor and fiddling supporter and as a result didn't play as much. A few years later, Chad enlisted in the U.S. Army. During those years, he didn't fiddle at all. After his service in the Army MP Corps, Chad returned home and was eager to pick up where he had left off. After several years away, Chad once again attended the annual Fiddler's Picnic where he heard Ivan Hicks of New Brunswick, Canada play for the first time. Ivan's playing inspired Chad to once again pick up his fiddle and start playing. Since then, he hasn't stopped fiddling. By the late 1990's, Chad played for area and regional contra, square and round dances with the "Crooked Stovepipe" band. Chad remains active with the Central Chapter of the NYSOTFA, and has played for many local square and round dances with them throughout the years. Currently, Chad is serving as the vice president of the Central Chapter of the NYSOTFA and continues to perform, teach, and entertain individually and with the Central Chapter Fiddlers.
Chad at the annual New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers Association's "Fiddlers' Picnic" in Osceola, NY around 1979.
Chad's fiddle teacher, Winifred "Murph" Baker (1911-1986).
Chad as a young boy at home playing the fiddle his grandfather Cooper bought him.
New York State Fiddler's Hall of Fame plaque at the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame and Museum, Osceola, NY.
Chad's great grandparents, Kenneth "Roger" and Edna Richmond. Roger played the fiddle as a young man at dances. When Chad needed a fiddle to learn on, Roger sent his fiddle up from Florida for his great grandson to learn on.
I took piano lessons back,
When I was only nine.
And practiced on a pump organ,
But could not keep the time.
When I was twelve, my father bought
A violin for me.
I studied for a year or two,
And then I let it be.
I practiced off and on for years,
Then gave the thing a rest.
I could not make it sound just right.
Not even at my best.
In nineteen hundred thirty-three,
With nothing much to do,
I had the urge to play again,
And tried a tune or two.
I got together with some friends,
And formed a little band.
We played for dances Friday nights,
For o'er a two year span.
The dances were both round and square.
We had no great expense.
'Twas during the depression years.
We each got fifty cents.
I haven't played o'er thirty years.
My violin is gone.
My grandson was aplaying it,
And fiddling along.
Poem written by Chad's great grandfather, Kenneth Roger Richmond (1905-2007)