Captain Fiddle Music

Ryan and Brennish


Fan Letters 1978-1998

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30 years of letters to Captain Fiddle!

I've received many unsolicited letters concerning my teaching, performances, recordings,

and publications over the years. These letters and excerpts are all authentic. I've decided

to share themwith you! Names and addresses of personal letters are omitted to protect


Click here to go to letters from 1999 to the present.

Following are letters from 1978 - 1998, the most recent first:

December 29, 1998

Ryan -

Just wanted to let you know that I received the book, Fiddler's Almanac, in

the mail today. What a great book! I was bringing in groceries and saw the

package at my door and opened it immediately. I was thoroughly engrossed in

the book immediately and forgot to put away my groceries! I have just

purchased a violin and will be taking lessons with the ultimate goal of

becoming an Irish Fiddler. While I am working toward that end, I will enjoy

reading your book.

Thanks so much!


Rockville, Maryland

December 22, 1998

Dear Captain Fiddle

I recently purchased your Fiddling for Beginners book and CD and am quite pleased with

my progress on the "Devil's Box."


Oxford, Ohio

December 15, 1998

Thanks much for your great little book. It got here in great shape. I have

left positive feedback. As a music teacher and a "rusty" violinist, I am grateful for insight

on the

violin that I didn't get in college! Thanks,


December 1, 1998

Hi Ryan,

I received your CD today and I'm enjoying it a lot. It's a good selection of

tunes, and your playing is wonderfully clean and good to hear. That Washburn

sounds really crisp with a great tone.


November 27, 1998

Received CD today.  Great!

D. M.


November 25, 1998


All I can say is, "you kick butt", and were wonderful! Thanks for making the party a success;

I hope you get some more gigs out of it. We plan an open house at Christmas, and will

have you as a guest (You'll be off the clock) Regards to your sidekick from Berwick - Thanks



Hooksett, NH

November 14, 1998


Received CD today (banjo) and am listening to it as I write. LOVE IT !!!

Oh how I wish I could play that good. Thanks a million for the quick turnaround.

D.V. on the internet

November 14, 1998


today I went to the post office and finally picked up the books.

Now after two hours of reading the almanac I would like to thank you again for

writing this great book. I learnt a lot from it and I am not through yet.

M.K. on the internet

November 3, 1998

Hi there. I bought your CD a few weeks ago, and I'm really enjoying it

(it's playing on my computer as I write this). Anyway, I was just

wondering if you've ever published the tab for these tunes? I really

like your arrangements, and I haven't found enough books with clawhammer

tab to keep me happy. I like Ken Perlman's books, but I'd like to do

the kinds of arrangements you've recorded, rather than the heavier focus

on melodic style (even though I like that too).

Anyway, if you have anything you could share with (or sell to) me on

this, I'd sure appreciate it. :-)

Thanks for a great CD -- it got me all the way to Boston and back this

past weekend!


October 16, 1998

Hi, Ryan-

Received the CD today- (ordered it for my roommate) he loves the music!

He's just learning to play open-back/clawhammer banjo, so any source of

inspiration is welcome!

P. T.

October 14, 1998


You have inspired me at the grand age of 37 to learn the fiddle. Your website is terrific.

regards, N.M.

Hampstead, New Hampshire

September 13, 1998

I'd just like to say that I enjoyed reading your wheatland webpage. Did you

go this year? The new stage was great... so was everything else...

Happy Wheatland!


September 13, 1998

Crawdad Wranglers, Ryan Thomson

On behalf of the town of Durham, the members of the Durham Business Association, and

the Citizens of Durham, thank you for participating in our annual Sunday Summer Concert

Series. Your efforts have certainly helped to make our summer concert series a success,

and the beginning of what we hope will be a summer tradition in Durham. Thank you


Sincerely, Jane Faix, President,

for the Durham Business Association

September 10, 1998

Hello Ryan,

I just wanted to thank you guys(Crawdad Wranglers) for doing such a great job. Everyone

really loved the band. The best story I heard was when Eleanor (she runs Glen Magna)

asked you if you needed a place to change. I also wanted to thank you very much for

playing "Fly Me to the Moon". That was a surprise to me and a complete surprise for Maria.

Well, gotta go. We're packing for our move to San Francisco. Good luck in you future



Amebury, Massachusetts

September 4, 1998

Dear Ryan,

Bill and I enjoyed your delightful CD today. Congratulations for such beautiful music!


Green Valley, Arizona

September 3, 1998

Its really nice to know the inspiration for "March to Culloden." I listened to it last night

with the repeat button set and it must have played for two or more hours. I really enjoyed

hearing it! You are now on my Scottish Shelf with Battlefield Band, Charlie Zahm, Andy

Stewart, Sill Wizard et al.


Chelmsford, MA

Sept 2, 1998

I loved Fiddling for Beginners - Inspired me! I've taken two violin lessons - Suzuki, and will

work ahead on fiddle. (I won't tell my teacher - she liked the beginner's book though. I'm

43 - so getting a late start!


Washington, IA

August 27, 1998

Hey Ryan,

Its Brian Gessner from West Virginia Public TV. We were the ones videotaping Augusta in

Elkins a few weeks ago. Thanks again for letting us videotape you all jammin' on the porch!

Brian Gessner

Production Manager, WNPB-TV

August 3, 1998

Ryan, BTW--Woodchopper's Reel is definitely a keeper and I would enjoy hearing more

of your stuff. Do you have other recordings that I could purchase through the mail?


Ann Arbor, Michigan

June 27, 1998

Enjoyed 'Fiddle and Violin Buyer's Guide' - very useful.


San Antonio, TX

May 6, 1998

Hi there Ryan!

I don't know if you would remember me or not, but you taught me how to play the banjo

at Exeter back in 1994 or so... I was just looking on the internet for info on building a

washtub bass, and your name popped up! I just wanted to let you know that I'm still

playing my banjo, daily, and having a great time at it! I've also had access to a woodshop

here at Dartmouth and I've built myself a fretless banjo and a mountain dulcimer... Other

than that, things are going swell. Well, I just wanted to say hello, and let you know that I

really appreciate you teachng me to play the banjo! I hope you are doing well!

Yours truly,


Hanover, NH

March 16, 1998

I just picked up your learning tape #3. It was available at a contra dance that I go to. I am

a bluegrass guitar player and a few months ago I picked up a decent violin at a second

hand store and started picking out some tunes that I play on the guitar, and then I found

your tape which has helped me learn more.


Newburgh, NY

January 12, 1998

Dear Captain Fiddle,

A few year's ago, I purchased a great video, "Last Chance String Band: New Hampshire Folk

Festival 1980". Since then I have looked for records, tapes and/or videos by Captain Fiddle,

Ryan Thompson, and/or The Last Chance String Band. I haven't found one. Do you have

anything available by any and/or all of the above - or records, tapes, or videos of any good

music of this type? If so please let me know. Thanks for your trouble.



Roselle, IL

January 6, 1998

Dear Captain Fiddle,

Hello, my name is R. R. I purchased a used fiddle from you this summer at the Augusta

Festival in Elkins, West Virginia. Additionally, I bought a few of your instruction materials. I

can't begin to tell you how much fun I'm having. In the few months since buying your

"Fiddling for Beginners" manual and tape, I've really heard some improvement. Of course,

I'm not perfect (who is?), but I am progressing quite well. I have bought some other

fiddling materials to provide some variety, but

none of them are as helpful as yours. Now that I have your internet site, I plan to order a

few more of your books and tapes. Hope all is going well for you.

Thanks again!


Buckhannon, West Virginia

December 1, 1997

Dear Mr Thomson,

I did receive my "Chord Encyclopedia for 1100 Fiddle Tunes, and I am very pleased with it. I

will certainly show it to the rest of my band, and they may order copies also.


Ames, Iowa

November 11, 1997

I enjoyed your book, the Fiddler's Almanac. Would like to be on your mailing list.


Hamden, Connecticut

November 1, 1997

Dear Ryan,

I was impressed by your achievement. Your playing was delightful and added a festive air

to the day.


Ann Lebrun, Northeast Regional Symposium Coordinator

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

October 6, 1997


Hi. Just wanted to shoot you some kudos on your Buyer's Guide, which I found at my local

public library (Salem Public Lib. in Oregon). Although I checked out your book THE DAY

AFTER I bought my first fiddle, I was pleased to find that I didn't buy a piece of junk.

Your book is definitely the most helpful book on the subject (and the ONLY book

dedicated *solely* to the subject of buying) I've been able to find.


Salem, Oregon

September 22, 1997

I saw your ad in Fiddler Magazine. I have one of your Capt. Fiddle learning cassettes, and

it has been very helpful. I would appreciate receiving a catalog on other teaching

materials you offer!


Alvarado, Texas

September 19, 1997

I was so glad to see your catalog at Davis & Elkins College - I was at Augusta for Old Time

Week. Last year I checked the Almanac out from the library. What a great book! Thanks for



Kansas City, Missouri

August 30, 1997

Dear Ryan

Here are the photos which I thought you might like to remind you of the good times and

Music at SAMW. I didn't think that country dancing could be so much fun. You teachers

seemed to be everywhere and were very generous with your time and energy. One of the

best parts was watching your beginner students play Little Brown Jug on Friday night, with

such obvious pride and pleasure - congratulations and thanks.


Newington, CT

May 21, 1997

Dear Ryan:

Thank you for helping to make the Barn Dance last Saturday such a success. We appreciate

the fact that you are willing to work with us financially to bring income to the Museum, so

necessary to keep us going!

I've heard from people attending that the food was scrumptious, the ice cream delicious

and fun to churn, the service excellent and the music and dancing great couple

from Boston said this was their first barn dance and enjoyed themselves so much that

they will come up for any future dances.

Again Ryan, thanks for accepting the challenge to call dances for an unusual dance floor

and for working with us. Please thank Bill for his wonderful fiddle music.


Berrie Donovan Events Director

New Hampshire Farm Museum

May 20, 1997

Dear Captain Fiddle,

At NEFFA this past April, I purchased a book "A Folk Musician's Working Guide to Chords,

Keys, Scales, and More" and Fiddling for Beginners " book and tape. ....I have thoroughly

enjoyed your books and tape. You are a very dynamic instructor.


Waltham, MA

May 12, 1997

Dear Ryan:

On behalf of the students and staff of both Main Street School and Lincoln Street School I

wish to extend my thanks to you for being a special part of our Exeter Elementary Arts

Festival for 1997.

The festival represented a great school community partnership that enriched our students

experiences in the arts. We look forward to a festival next year and hope you'll be able to

be a part of it. Thank you.


Richard M. Flagg Assistant Principal

Lincoln Street School

April 22, 1997

I was so glad to see your catalog at Davis and Elkins College - I was at Augusta for Old Time

Week. Last year I checked the Almanac out from my library. What a great book!

thanks for sharing,


March, 1997


Thank you for taking the time to show me more about fiddling. I really appreciated it!



March 1997


I'm so glad we got your "The Complete Fiddle Contest Kit." I would have been SUNK!


New Hampshire

Feb 9, 1997

I've read many books but have never had the opportunity to tell an auther thanks. I

picked up your Fiddler's Almanac a while back, and found it most interesting and helpful. I

love music, all kinds, and pretty much play for the shear enjoyment of it.... Oh well, I

know you probably have a busy schedule and I really wanted to say thanks for writing the

Fiddler's Almanac, because I really enjoy it!


The "Mangalated" Cassette.- Letter and photo

Dec 27, 1996

Hi, My name is B.B. and I purchased your beginners tape #3 and book for my 11 year old

daughter. She received it for christmas and I'm very happy with the way the book and tape

are produced. I play the guitar so I accompany my daughter. Thanks again,


November 16, 1996

I got this address from your booklet I got from "Lark in the Morning" on how to "Make and

Play the Washtub Bass." I got it made - works well. I play in the Seniors Kitchen band here

in town. Thank you for printing the booklet.


Litchfield, Illinois

Oct 27, 1996

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Dear Ryan! Thank you so much for your great musical contribution to the Essex Music

Festival! It was a great lot of fun and we really appreciated your support! The music

sounded super! I have received only excellent reports! Thank you again so much!

All my best,

Sweet Loretta

October 25, 1996

Dear Captain Fiddle,

Hi I'm Stephanie and I have all your books and tapes. It's thanks to you that I'm a great

violin player.

September 29, 1996

After meeting you and talking for a few minutes at the 1993 Northeast Folk Festival in

Natick, MA, I enthusiastically bought fiddle learning tapes #2, 3, and 4. I want to take this

opportunity to thank you for the many hours of "coaching and instruction" that you have

provided me through these tapes as well as being a fiddling companion that was always

there, ready and waiting to play along with me at the push of a button on the tape


I am pleased to see that Captain Fiddle Publications has its own web page and that I can

browse your listing of fine books and recordings. I highly recommend any of your materials

to any new or experienced fiddler who wants to improve their fiddling techniques.



September 29, 1996

I wanted to drop you a line and say how much I enjoyed your book and how much I am

excited to learn to play the fiddle. I learned a great deal from your book and am now ready

to start looking. Your email said you had several fiddles for sale, price is important since

this is a hobbie and I am just getting started. I will give you a call, your number was in the

email. Thanks and I'll talk to you soon.


June 26, 1996

The Fiddler's Almanac has been tremendously informative (far more so than anything else

I've come across, and considerably more "down to earth") for a beginner such as myself.


Lynnwood, Washington

June 1996

I have recently obtained your Fiddler's Almanac and it has inspired me to take up the

fiddle at a fairly advanced age - thank you for this.


Surrey, England

May 31, 1996

Dear Mr. Thomson,

I came across your book, The Fiddler's Almanac in our local library today and found it to be

an enthralling goldmine of traditional folk fiddling, and I learned a lot from it despite the

fact that I've been involved in traditional fiddle music for over 70 years. I'm now 77.


Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada

not dated

May 1996

What a fun book! (Swing Fiddle) Johnny Gimble gives such great insight into improv. He

always makes it so easy. Its a pleasure to read your book because obviously you know what

you're talking about.


May 20, 1996

I have enjoyed all the tapes, books, etc, I ordered from you. Keep up the good work.


Tifton, Georgia

March 17, 1996

Hello Ryan,

You probably don't remember me, but it was most pleasant to meet you last September at

Pinewoods Music camp and I really liked your band. I especially remmber your music,

playing the accordion on the cabin porch while I took a swim in Short Pond.


February 26, 1996

Dear Ryan J. Thomson,

I recently read your book, The Fiddler's Almanac 1985. It was very descriptive and

informative. I did enjoy reading it.


Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

Feb 6, 1996

Dear Ryan,

A.B. came over to my house last Sat. night and we played a bit. He had a copy of your

Chord Encyclopedia and left it with me to look at. I did look at it and can't believe how

much work you must have put into it. It's got just about every tune I play in it. I'm

impressed, so impressed that I would like to purchase the book myself to keep in my

fiddle case.


Brookfield, New Hampshire

February 5, 1996

I'm impressed with your instructional cassettes. My 10 year old daughter went from a good

fiddler to a great fiddler, much of it due to your 2 cassesttes she played over and over

again!! Thanks for the foot-stomping tunes!


Scotsdale, Arizona

February 2, 1996

I purchased your book titled "The Fiddler's Almanac" via mail order, through Elderly Music

and have found the book quite valuable. I have read the book many times, and each time I

find something new or something that now makes more sense to me. It has proven quite

beneficial in helping me to learn this wonderful, yet frustratingly difficult instrument.


Tasmania, Australia

January 30, 1996

Dear Mr. Ryan Thomson:

I have just "reread" your wonderful book "The Fiddler's Almanac." I thank you greatly for

the well rounded, broad range, historical perspective, tips, talent, and more, that you

poured into the work. You gave more than just the "mechanics" to fiddle playing, you gave

the "feel." with history and heritage, to boot. My enjoyment was thorough and real, so I'll

end the praises here. Although, be sure to enjoy the good praises when well deserved.


Weirs Beach, New Hampshire

Oct 1995

I was able to purchase your fiddle learning tapes from a company here in England and

found them excellent.


Sheffield, England

September 19, 1995

Dear Ryan,

Please pass along my sincerest thanks to your wonderful band members for their

willingness to play at the cajun- zydeco weekend at Pinewoods two weeks ago. Even if the

Crawdad Wranglers had been merely adequate in the music played, I would be indebted to

you for the jam you got me out of. However, you guys were terrific! It was a superb way to

end a fun weekend.

Marcie Van Cleave, Executive Director

Folk Arts Center of New England

May 8, 1995

Dear Mr. Thomson,

Some years ago I bought several of your tapes, and I've listened to them many, many

hours. They've helped me learn dozens of tunes. As I listen to your playing, though, I hear

something I don't hear in the slowed down versions and that I don't see in the music in my

many fiddle books.

Your playing at tempo has this wonderful bounce, almost as if you're hitting the notes a

little before the beat, or as if you're syncopating your emphasis or... that's just the

problem: it sounds wonderful but I can't tell quite what it is. So I don't quite know what to

try. I've heard it in other great old-time players as well, though not as clearly as I hear it

on your tapes.


Newberg, Oregon

June 15, 1995

Dear Mr. Thomson,

I've been playing fiddle for only a few years. I got more valuable information from your

Fiddler's Almanac than all of the other fiddle books combined. Thanks


Richlands, North Carolina

June 1995

Dear Sir,

I have read with a great deal of interest and admiration your Fiddler's Almanac, 1985. I am

78 years old and have been "fiddling around" most of my life it seems like.


Wasau, Wisconsin

June 22, 1995

Thanks for insight gained through your publications


Detroit, MI

May 15, 1995

Dear Ryan,

I just wanted to take the time to thank you for my mandolin lesson of two weeks put together the musicality, ie., the possibilities with playing those lovely little

tunes for me, and many more.

best wishes, sincerely,


Portsmouth, New Hampshire

May 10, 1995

Dear Ryan,

I just wanted to take the time to thank you for my mandolin lesson of two weeks ago.....I

am enjoying your 'Captain Fiddle's Tunebook' immensely and from this I hear your far

reaching influence in New England music that I have listened to before. Thanks for

assisting me out of that lousy music book of mine. You put together the musicality, i.e.

the possibilities with playing those lonely little tunes for me as lovely ones. Best wishes

and sincerely,


Portsmouth, New Hampshire

April 10, 1995

Dear Ryan,

Thought you'd like the enclosed clipping. Thanks again for your part in making the Cajun

Fest an enjoyable tradition.


International Student Office

Bradford College

January 30, 1995

My wife Sharon, who I introduced you to, was extremely impressed at your ability to

communicate cajun dance instructions to your audience. We have seen a number of

instructors over the years and you certainly are one of the more capable instructors in

making it as easy as possible to follow but that's also true in your ability to teach fiddle.

You have helped me out very much in just those few lessons I took.


Nashua , New Hampshire

November 28, 1994

Dear Ryan:

We have had many wonderful comments on the music you provided at the "Gold Rush"

auction on November 19. Our only regret was that the occasion did not allow for dancing!

Thanks again for coming to Medfield, adding so much to the "atmosphere," and helping to

make the evening such a success. Hope to see and hear you again soon!


Jeanne Sullivan

M.C.P.E. Auction co-chair

August 8, 1994

Dear Mr Thomson,

Thank you for taking the time to join us for the Celebration 94. Even though the weather

disn't co-operate as much as we would have liked, everyone had a great time! We hope

that you will plan to join us again next year .

with sincere thanks, Sylvia, Linda, and the Gunstock staff

Gunstock Ski Area, New Hampshire

July 24, 1994

Dear Mr. Thomson,

I recently read your book The Fiddler's Almanac. As someone relatively new to the old

time fiddle, I found your book very valuable.


Springfield, Illinois

July 1994

Dear Ryan Thomson,

I would like to thank you for the tape I received sometime ago. I have learned to play

them all and enjoy practicing them. Last year in school I played Old Joe Clark and Rag

Time Annie in a school concert.


Meadville, Pennsylvania

January 30, 1994

Dear Ryan,

By Golly! Ryan. You're a dad burned genius. Me too. The defintion of genius is a guy who

does something no one else has done. He has no teacher and needs none. He is the

teacher. That's us Ryan - dad burned geniuses.

Frederick T. Edmunds, MD

Bones Unlimited

November 18, 1993

Captain Fiddle,

I just received your two Fiddle Learning Tapes #3 and #4. I think they are great!


Queensbury, New York

February 17, 1993

Dear Captain Fiddle,

Thank you for your excellent book, The Fiddler's Almanac. Its been very useful to me as a

beginning "fiddler."


Ellicott City, Maryland

December 10, 1992

Dear Mr. Thomson,

I recently ordered your Capt. Fiddle Tunebook #1 along with the #2 Fiddle Learning Tape. I

am really enjoying them. You have done a nice job teaching these tunes....I've bought a

lot of music study aids and I must say I have enjoyed yours the most. Thanks. Have a nice

holiday season.



December 1, 1992

Captain Fiddle,

I've recently gotten interested in fiddle music and was delighted to find the Fiddler's

Almanac at Forbes Library in North Hampton, Massachussetts.


North Hampton, Massachussetts

November 10, 1992

Dear Ryan:

It was a real pleasure to have your band(Crawdad Wranglers) at the Fair. We all enjoyed

your show. Thank you for coming. Have a great year!


Susan Frentzen

Marketing Consultant

League of New Hampshire Craftsmen

April, 1992

Dear Ryan,

Nomad 91 was wonderful. Your booth was an important asset to the festival.


Hatty Roberts

North Eastern Music and Dance Festival

Feb, 1992

Dear Capt. Fiddle,

I am enjoying your Fiddler's Almanac book.


South Windsor, Connecticut


Note from Ryan: I was at a National Folk Alliance meeting in Tucson. When I returned

home I found this letter in my box:

I bought Learning Tape #3 and #4 in Tucson last week and already have the first two tunes

"picked out", but since I read music very well, I think I could save a lot of time if I had

something to peek at once in a while. I'm determined to do this by I have

discovered, by the time I have something picked out I also have it memorized!!! I'm so

sick of music stands!!!...

Mr Thomson, were you there? At Tucson I bought the Fiddler's Almanac from a lady I met in

one of the discussion groups-and I dimly remember seeing her with a gentleman and she

said she was from New Hampshire...anyway, if you were there and I missed a chance to tell

you personally how much I have enjoyed your book, (The Fiddler's Almanac) I'm going to be


I don't know how many times I've checked that book out from our local library!!!! When I

saw it lying in the lady's briefcase, I just grabbed it - ITs MINE! Thanks for writing it. I love



Wichita, KS


Hi Ryan,

I have read Fiddler's Buying guide and Almanac and have learned from it and keep going

back and looking and reading again.


November 11, 1991


Just a super evening with your band...will be sending you another check soon as simply a

bonus and thanks! I hope to get you back here real soon.


Hanover, New Hampshire

October 2, 1991

Dear Ryan,

Thank you for sharing your all your many talents with everyone. We look forward to

enjoying you again and again!

Fran Hendrickson and John Foley, Festival Coordinators

NOMAD Northeastern Music and Dance


Dear Ryan,

Thank you so much for being a part of our 1991 United Way Awareness Week. The music

you provided made for a festive atmosphere and helped encourage people to visit the

United Way Information table....I want to express my thanks to you. Your music and skill

were appreciated as evidenced by the many people who became involved in singing,

'spooning', foot tapping, etc.


Peter W. Burness

United Way Chairman

March 29, 1991

I came across a copy of your 1985 publication, The Fiddler's Almanac at a local public

library and took it home on a whim thinking I might find it interesting. What followed was

litterally hours of reading enjoyment, learning, and even a few chuckles now and then


My fiddle teacher didn't realize that such a book existed and, as he fanned through the

book and picked up on some of the quotations, he commented, "Yeah, that about says it

all," or, "Boy, isn't that the truth!"


Houston, Texas

June 12, 1990

Dear Ryan,

Thanks to you and your band for a delightful concert on Sunday. I've enclosed some p.r.

for you to have. Good luck and keep playing!

Judy Roberts

Mill Pond Center for the Arts

Durham, New Hampshire


Mr Thomson,

Just finished reading your book "Fiddler's Almanac" and enjoy it very much. I became

interested in playing the fiddle about 3 years ago and can't seem to lay it down.


Hopkinville, Kentucky


Dear Ryan,

I loved the "Fiddler's Almanac." I have only been playing the fiddle for 10 months and you

have really added new coal to my fire. I, like yourself, started playing the fiddle very late

(age 23) and I am very serious about becoming a good fiddler..... Thank you for your

comittment to the fiddle, you have added a lot to my life.


Scarsdale, New York

April 10, 1990

Dear Mr. Thomson,

Just finished your book, The Fiddler's Almanac and found it interesting and informative.


Bloomsburg, PA

February 27, 1990


Thanks so much for your help with the swing workshop. It suddenly dawned on me that we

met at Micanopy Dance Camp. I had the pleasure of jamming with you and Judy Luis, piano

player. Your book is very helpful in locating swing music. I'll be using your book much more

in the future.


Opa-Locka, Florida

April 22, 1990

I received th Last Chance Video and am pleased with it.


Carrabelle, Florida

May 10, 1990

Dear Ryan Thomson, I spoke to you at the folk festival in Natick, MA. The five minutes or

so that we talked has made a vast difference in my playing (The dog no longer leaves the

room). Your Fiddling for Beginners Kit is great. It's just like having someone right there to

show me what to do. I've had other instruction tapes by famous people for different

instruments and they just don't seem to slow down enough or teach the whole tune. It's

almost like they're just showing off. You by contrast are an excellent teacher. Keep up the

good work.


West Roxbury, Massachusetts

December 12, 1989

Dear Ryan,

A quick note to thank you on behalf of Strawbery Banke for participating in our Candlelight

Stroll. I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as our visitors enjoyed listening to you!


Karen Murphy, Coordinator?Special Programs

Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

October 20, 1989

Dear Ryan,

I wanted to thank you again for doing that gig in Georgetown. I've gotten a lot of good

feedback since then. People were particularly pleased that you got them square dancing

(the town fathers were impressed!)


Georgetown, Massachussetts

September 9, 1989

Dear Ryan,

Thanks more than we can say for your tremendous effort in participating in our "House and

Porch Concerts for BETWEEN. On behalf of BETWEEN and ourselves - a million thanks -

Charlie and Marylou

March 22, 1989

Dear Ryan, I have thoroughly enjoyed your "Fiddler's Almanac." Absolutely excellent!


Vicker's Heights, Ontario


January 16, 1989

Mr Thomson, I just started playing the fiddle a year ago and I have found the Fiddler's

Almanac most helpful and useful.


Arlington, Texas

September 30, 1988

Dear Mr Thomson, My name is xxxxxxxxxx and I am a violin, viola major at Missouri

Western State College in St. Joseph, Missouri. I have just finished reading your 1985

Fiddler's Almanac. I found the book to be a wealth of information. Even though I consider

myself classically trained I could appreciate the material presented.


Easton, Missouri

August 22, 1988

Dear Ryan,

As usual Ryan, it was a pleasure to have you come to Farm Day. We always enjoy your

music. It adds a festive atmosphere to the event. Thank you for supporting the museum.


Mellissa Walker, Executive Director

New Hampshire Farm Museum

June 17, 1988

Dear Captain: I have taken the Fiddler's Almanac out of the Brookline, MA Public Library

and enjoyed your book and got a great deal of valuable information from it.

W.N. Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

January 21, 1988

Dear Ryan Thomson, I have purchased your "The Fiddle and VIolin Buyer's Guide" and the

"Fiddler's Almanac" and found both very interesting.


Schenectady, New York

January 15, 1988

Dear Ryan, I am enjoying your book :Fiddler's Almanac." My father played the violin, and I

used to play drums in a small band once in a while with a fiddler named Bill Close - from

Bristol, Vermont...Thank you for your service. I appreciate having a source close by that

can get me set up for "fooling around on the fiddle."


Lisbon, New Hampshire

November 29, 1987

Dear Mr. Thomson, I've been reading "The Fiddler's Almanac" obtained by my local library

through a search. My compliments to you, for sharing your great collection of

fiddle-"ology," it is really full of great advise (especially the cloths-pins on the bridge... my

family is very appreciative!



Clymer, New York

November 16, 1987

Dear Ryan,

We are so happy that a member of our "Old Time Fiddlers" brought in a copy of your book -

so we have one to read.

Best wishes to you,

Bob and Millie Shields

San Diego Old Time Fiddlers

September 24, 1987

I read your book, "Fiddler's Almanac" and enjoyed it very much. As a beginning (ie less

than 1 year) fiddler, I found it very useful.


August 20, 1987

Dear Ryan:

Once again the New Hampshire Farm Museum's Old Time Farm Day was a great success. The

trustees and I wish to thank you for your willingness to help us.

Melissa Walker, Coordinator

New Hampshire Farm Museum

August 11, 1987

Dear Mr. Thomson: I have recently read your book "The Fiddler's Almanac and found it to

be very informative and well written.


Oklahoma City, OK

July 31, 1987

Sir, I am writing to let you know how satisfied I have been with the Fiddler's Almanac. It

has a wealth of information that I have been looking for.


Taberg, New York

May 16, 1987

Dear Captain Fiddle,

On behalf of the Christian Education Cabinet and our church school children, THANK YOU

for sharing your time and talents with us yesterday morning. The children enjoyed your

music and use of different instruments very much. You and Dan certainly put on a great

performance!!! Thanks again so much.


Nancy Berndtson, Christian Education Coordinator

May 14, 1987

Last Fall at Eisteddfod, at North Dartmouth, Mass. I spoke with you. You encouraged me

not to be intimidated about trying to play again after over 25 years. I bought your book

and later a fiddle/violin. ...Thanks for getting me in motion toward the fiddle and for

helping me pick a tape. Sincerely,


New Bedford, Massachusetts

March 17, 1987

About 3 weeks ago I was at the library looking around at violin books and accidentally

came across your book "The Fiddler's Almanac" and found it very much to my liking. To me

its a great book and I would like to buy one if you still have some in stock.


Fitchburg, Massachusetts

December 23, 1986

Dear Sir, I have been looking over my copy of the Fiddler's Almanac, and I can attest to

the fact that it is well documented and well done

yours, truly,


Waco, Texas

December 19, 1986

Hi! I checked out the Fiddler's Almanac at the library and decided I needed one. Sure

enjoyed it. Its great.

Thanks so much,


December 15, 1986

Dear Ryan,

Thank you for participating in the Candle Light Stroll and helping to make it a successful



Sandra Northrup, Program Director

Strawbery Banke

Oct, 1986

Mr Thomson,

I am interested in anything relating to fiddling. Please put me on your mailing list. P.S. I

recently purchased your Fiddler's Almanac and its really a blessing.


Midland City, Alabama

August 13, 1986


Thanks again for the work you did on Sunday. What a wonderful day! I hope that we can all

get together soon and talk about the 2nd Annual New Hampshire Acoustic Folk Guitar and

Fiddle Contest. Stay in touch!



Prescott Park Arts Festival

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

March 31, 1986

Dear Ryan,

I want to thank you once again for presenting the "Folk Fiddling Workshop" at this year's

Country Living Day. I only wish I could have spent more time listening to you play and

speak about music. Its a truly enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


Nancy Adams, County Extension Agent, Agriculture

Cooperative Extension Service

University of New Hampshire

March 4, 1986

Dear Mr Thomson,

I want to thank you for your Fiddler's Almanac: it is a splendid book, wonderfully designed,

and full of information I have been looking for. Thank you for the care and skill with which

you put it together.

J. H.

Irvine, California

Feb, 1986

Dear Sirs,

In one of the next issues of our art magazine we plan to review your "Fiddler's Almanac"


Rudolph Radnai, editor

Okl. Villamosmernok, Budapest, Hungary

November 19, 1985

Dear Ryan,

You ran the best fiddle workshop I've seen yet at NEFFA (New England Folk Festival

Association) last year because you really did teach!


Arlington, Massachussetts

October 21, 1985

Dear Ryan,

You are a real warm and talented person. I am so glad I had the chance to meet you and

hear you.

thanks, again

Pinky Kram, Chair Person

Naturally Newmarket

September 30, 1985

Dear Mr Thomson:

I read with interest the article in Foster's Daily Democrat regarding your career as a

fiddler. Congratulations on your book and best wishes on Volume II. It's rare for a person to

be so fortunate as to make their living at an interest they enjoy. Fiddles and banjos and

country music are my favorites. I hope to be able to meet and hear you play that fiddle

sometime when I can be in the Newmarket area.

with warm regards,

Bob Smith1st District, New Hampshire House of Representatives

Congress of the United States

Sept 11, 1985

Dear Ryan,

You and your caller were a huge success at our opening of school dance. Many thanks for

being there. Hopefully you'll be able to return next year. The kids are still talking about

the square dance!


Susan Herney, Dean of Students

Phillips Exeter Academy

July 31, 1985

Dear Ryan Thomson:

I am writing on behalf of Alasdair Fraser, Director of the Valley of the Moon Scottish

Fiddling School. We are having our second school the last week of August and this year we

are planning to have a selection of fiddle related books and records available to our


We would like very much to have 25 to 30 copies of the "Fiddler's Almanac" if at all


yours, sincerely,

Bonnie Thompson, Special Projects Coordinator.

July 5, 1985

Howdy Captain Fiddle,

Just dropping a line to let you know how much I appreciated your kindness June 6 for the

Children's Fest. Sending you this card with prayers that some day you'll have your records

here at the Hall of Fame.


Rose Rio

Nashville, Tennesseee

April 22, 1985

Dear Ryan J Thomson,

I got your book "The Fiddler's Almanac" I am not a fiddler but that is a wonderful book as

somebody who likes to listen to fiddle music it is a real insight.

Thank you, T. M., Lynn, Massachusetts

April 8, 1985

Dear Mr Thomson

Thank you for the Fiddler's Almanac. Its really quite an interesting book and one that I

know our son Erik will enjoy. He was a Florida fiddle champ several years ago at age 19.



March 26, 1985

Dear Ryan,

I want to thank you for being a speaker(fiddling) at Country Living Day this year and for

helping to make it such a huge success.


Nancy Adams, County Extension Agent, Agriculture

Cooperative Extension Service

University of New Hampshire

March 23, 1985

Hi Ryan!

Thank you for the copy of your book. I am very impressed with it, its content,

organization, and general appearance. You ought to feel very proud of the result of your


M. F., Massachusetts

March 22, 1985

Dear Ryan Thomson,

Many Thanks for the Almanac! It is really super -- I haven't had time to read every single

thing, but read enough to know it will really be a useful sourcebook. My husband is

starting to play the fiddle and I showed it to him - I'm helping him, but there are lots of

things I've forgotten about what its like to learn fiddle. That section of the book struck me

as particularly useful - also really true, at least from my experience. Wonderful.


Jan Tappan

Scottish Fiddling Revival, Ltd &

Valley of the Moon Fiddling School

March 22, 1985

Dear Ryan:

It's terrific. Very entertaining, informative and even inspiring... You've done an excellent

job from cover to cover. Enclosed is a check for our first shipment. I hope that there will

be many more. (Fiddler's Almanac)

Best Regards,

Noel Benson

Kschier Brothers, Inc.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Mr Ryan Thomson,

Thanks so much for your book. It is an invaluable addition to our N.E. Collection.

For the Board of Directors, Gordon Brown, President,

New England Country Music Historical Society, Inc.

August 20, 1984

Dear Ryan,

A super combo. My particular thanks to you all.

very truly yours,

David Mattair, Coordinator

New Hampshire Farm Museum

June 14, 1984

Dear Ryan,

Thank you very much for your fine musical contributions to our annual Market Square Day

Festivities. The addition of "Captain Fiddle" and your sidekick Alan Brock provided much

excitement and color to the downtown historic tour. I am aware that the extraordinary

heat was a challenge to cope with, and from all accounts, you met that challenge


A little, true life story, captures much of why we put all of this energy into our Market

Square Day celebration and helps to describe what you have helped us create: As I was

approaching the square, long about 5:30 or so after marking off the streets for the next

morning's vendors, I could hear your songs wafting over the traffic and with the breezes.

As I rounded the corner, a group of store owners and hot tired citizens had accumulated

on the benches and in front of the garden cement plot by the Atheneum. They were

smiling and toe-tapping, despite the incredible heat.

One of them stopped me and said - full of pride, "That's what I like to see (gesturing with a

sweep of his hand to the delighted crowd you had attracted) a city that looks lived in!"

Thanks to you, Portsmouth was lived in to the hilt on our Market Square Day weekend. We

appreciate the vitality you gave so freely to our residents and visitors. Best wishes from all

of us at Pro Portsmouth.


Sandra Gae Mitchell, Executive Director

Pro Portsmouth Incorporated

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

May 3, 1984

Dear Ryan,

Thank you for sending us the three excerpts from your book on fiddling; we like them very


yours sincerely, Kari Estrin, editor, The Black Sheep Review

Cambridge, Massachussetts

April 4, 1984

Dear Ryan,

Thanks so much for your terrific performance! Everyone was thrilled and so pleased at your

playing and spontaneity!

thanks again


Town of Newmarket Department of Parks and Recreation

September 26, 1983

Dear Ryan:

Lowell National Historical Park's Fourth Annual Banjo and Fiddle Contest was a great

success. Your participation in events of this type help promote community awareness of

our musical heritage. Thank you for your continued support and great playing. We hope to

see you again next year!


Alexander Demas, Musical Specialist

Lowell National Historical Park

October 6, 1982

Dear Ryan:

This is a belated thank you note to let you know how much we appreciated your

participation at Milton Day here at the New Hampshire Farm Museum. The music added a

lot to the atmosphere of the day...I hope that you enjoyed the home cookin' as much as

we enjoyed the musical entertainment.


Will Elwell, Coordinator

New Hampshire Farm Museum

August 20, 1982

Dear Ryan,

The music was great!

William Elwell, Coordinator

New Hampshire Farm Museum

August 20, 1982

Dear Ryan,

Thanks very much for your performance at our Old Home Weekend activities. You added to

the success of a special day and fun day at the sidewalk fair!


Leslie Smith

Town of Newmarket Department of Parks and Recreation

October 16, 1981

Dear Ryan and Judy,

Thank you for coming in Yesterday and playing all the songs. We liked all the instruments.

We loved the songs you sang. You are very nice to come and sing them to us and show us

the instruments.

love, your friends, Mrs. Dawson's Class

Great Falls School, Somersworth, New Hampshire

August 10, 1981

Dear Mr Thomson

We loved the music - it added so much to the atmosphere!

most appreciatively,

Will Elwell, Coordinator

New Hampshire Farm Museum

July 16, 1981

Dear Ryan,

Just an enthusiastic note to thank you and your group for your fine performance at the

Old Time Fiddling Celebration this year, which turned out to be a great sucess for all of us.

yours sincerely,

Nicholas Shoumatoff

Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation

White Plains, New York

June 14, 1981

"Captain Fiddle" Radio Station WUNH

Dear Sir:

Just a note of support for your fine Sunday afternoon programming. As FM becomes more

and more homogenized and "corporately controlled," programs of an intense personal

nature become more and more important. Indeed, as someone who has only recently

been exposed to bluegrass, I feel your program has opened up a whole new area of


All of the FM tuners in our home and cars have pre-sets tuned to WUNH -- just for the

hours of 12:00 noon to 7 pm (plus the Blues show). The other six days of the week, the

presets aren't used at all. Congratulations for your enthusiasm, professionalism, and

consistency. You make FM come alive the way all stations should.


Roger C. Parker

Roger Parker Advertising Resource Center

Hampton, New Hampshire

August 12, 1980

Dear Mr Thomson,

Many thanks to you and the band for helping to make a great day!! Many good comments,

my appreciation to you!


Peter Lamb

New Hampshire Farm Museum

June 7, 1980

Dear Ryan and friends,

It has been six weeks since the NEFFA festival, and I had intended to write you long before

this...My first reason for writing is to thank you for the contribution which you made to

the festival...


Don Miller

New England Folk Festival Association

August 22, 1978

Dear Paul Mangion, Ryan Thomson, and Jim Marks,

Jim Holter of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, and Pieter Lamb of the Farm

Museum have asked me to thank you for your support on Old Time Farm Day. The Last

Chance String Band made all the difference in the success of our farm day. I enjoyed your

music as did the many visitors, and many people commented on what an excellent

accompaniment your playing provided to the various activities that day.

Alan Long

New Hampshire Farm Museum

March, 1978

Dear Captain Fiddle,

I wanted to tell you I especially enjoyed last Sunday's program. - I like Dave Grisman and

Asleep at the Wheel, and of course the Last Chance Medicine Show. Sunday is the only day

of the week I listen to WUNH - due to your show and the Folk Show. Feel free to point this

out to your programming editor. (and many of my friends over here feel the same way)

keep up the good shows and happy late birthday

a fan from Zoology Department

University of New Hampshire

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