Captain Fiddle Music

Ryan and Brennish




Hazards of life on the road

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It started out as a triple header gig

By Ryan Thomson

On a snowy Friday afternoon in February, the "Swing Pirates," my swing and jitterbug trio,

loaded the equipment into the "Captain Fiddle" truck, squeezed into the front seat, and

set out for Woodstock, New York, a 5 hour drive from Newmarket, New Hampshire. Arriving

at the town Hall one hour before the dance, the sound system was set up, my electric

piano plugged in, Brian's guitar tuned, and Paul's drums set up. After the dance, we were

invited to stay the night at a farm house next to the "The Big Pink," where many famous

woodstock era musicians recorded their albums in the 60's.

The next morning we were up bright and early and headed for Albany, New York, the site

for the "Dance Flurry," a weekend festival and dance extravaganza. We arrived minutes

before our scheduled dance set and changed into our "Crawdad Wranglers," cajun/zydeco

band attire. After our one hour performance, we quickly loaded the accordion, rubboard,

and guitar back into the truck and headed back across the mountains of Vermont to our

next dance, our regular Saturday night swing dance at the Kittery Grange Hall, in southern

Maine, a 6 hour drive from Albany.

One hour from our destination, in the early evening, while driving through the town of

Northwood, New Hampshire, we began telling stories of car accidents to keep ourselves

amused. A few minutes later I noticed an oncoming vehicle crossing into our lane and

driving directly towards my truck. The speed limit was 50 mph, and so we were closing at a

combined speed of about 100 mph. I waited a split second to see whether he would stay in

my lane.

His vehicle was unwavering, and I took evasive action. My choices were limited. There was

a long stream of oncoming cars on the two lane road, so I couldn't go left. On the right side

was houses, utility poles, trees, and mailboxes. I swerved hard to the right and headed

between a utility pole and a clump of trees, trying not to hit a house which was a bit more

to the right. I chose to take out the mailboxes, as a softer landing. I sucessfully avoided a

head on collision, but the other driver must have swerved a bit more to his left at the

same time, because he struck a glancing blow to the left rear of my truck.

His impact with my truck aimed him back into the oncoming traffic, and he had a head on

collision with the vehicle which had been following me. We were shaken up a bit, but

quickly exited our vehicle to look for injured persons. Our next concern was to examine our

musical instruments for possible damage. Remarkably, everything looked intact. After

filling out the accident reports, and talking the police into letting me drive my damaged

truck from the scene, we made a phone call to the Kittery Grange, to explain that we

would be a bit late. We jumped back into the

truck and headed for our next musical


A photo of the Captain Fiddle Truck the next


The Kittery dance went well, and we

accomplished our tightly scheduled musical

mission. The person who had been struck head

on by the drunken driver of the other vehicle

was not seriously injured, nor the drunk himself

who was insured by the large insurance

company that he also worked for. They provided

him with a clever lawyer who worked out a "plea bargain," with the judge. Thus equipped,

he got off lightly with a reduced charge of "reckless driving," despite multiple prior arrests

for drunken driving.

We were safe, the truck was repaired, and is still providing reliable transportation to

musical jobs throughout New England!

This article by Ryan J Thomson, 1997