Here are some of the
people Henry will be playing with, how this trip came about,
and what we will be doing together.
In a nutshell ...
here's what's goin' on. On July 9th, 2011, my life changed in
a huge way. I found myself at the Oregon Country Fair outside of
Eugene. My old friend Dr Patch Adams was there and the first words
he said to me were,
"Henry, when are you going
to come to Russia with us?"
The next thing I knew, Patch was introducing me to his new Executive
Assistant, Kate Fritz, who just happens to be a dynamo of a fiddler.
Within hours we were twin fiddling up a storm. I learned that the
tour lasts two weeks every November and spends a week each in Moscow and
Saint Petersburg (abbreviated from here on as "Peter"). I then recalled
that my old fiddling friend Katya (from Peter) has been bugging me for
16 years to come to Russia. And so, in that single day my life changed,
the stars aligned and I just knew I had to go. I let Katya know and
we immediately started planning a musical program for our week in Peter.
It will bring together Russians and the musicians on the tour for a program
that will be open to the public. I'll be flying to Peter a week early
to tour Katya's beautiful city, meet her musician friends and plan our
Right away I had to switch gears and get to work on my passport, visa,
airlines, luggage, costume, fundraising, our musical program, and zillions
of other little details. My singer/songwriter/guitarist friend Rich
in Spirit inquired about joining the tour, but it was already full.
But once again the stars aligned and in mid September, Rich told me there
had been a cancellation and he was able to go. So we now have a guitar
player to accompany Kate and I on our twin fiddling and add his unique
musical touch. And so, this adventure just keeps getting better and
Scroll down this page to learn more about these people. Stop in
at the sponsor page and lend your support.
And check back often at my Russia blog where I'll
be posting as often as I can get a WiFi connection.
Onward to Russia!,
Who is Dr Patch Adams?
Oregon Country Faire
Patch is the world's most famous zany doctor! He's the founder
of the Gesundheit! Institute which is building a free hospital in West
Virginia. You may recall the 1998 movie, Patch
Adams, starring Robin Williams. That movie was based on the
real life story of the real Patch Adams. Patch and I first met back
in the early 70's in New Orleans at the Mardi Gras. Shortly thereafter
we met up again at the free hospital Patch was running near Charles Town,
WV. Since then we've played together many times in the Washington,
D.C. area, Seattle, Rainbow Gatherings and the Oregon Country Fair.
Patch has been trying to get me to Russia for decades and this year he's
finally succeeded! Here are some links and YouTubes to check out
for more info about Patch and his annual Russia Clown Tour, now in its
Watch Patch performing as a clown with a fish.
Also see him speaking in front of an audience. (1:12)
Another clip from the 2009 Russia tour. (8:40, opens in new window)
Rich in Spirit and Ekaterina
Rich, Wyoming Rainbow Gathering
Katya, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Way back in 1995, I found myself at the European Rainbow Gathering which
was held in the Czech Republic that year. I met both Rich and Katya
at that gathering. Rich had flown over from his home in Key West,
Florida. Katya came with some of her Russian friends from Saint Petersburg.
Rich is a multi-talented musician, singer/songwriter, web designer and
world traveller. When he heard I was going to Russia with Patch,
he said, "I want to go too!" and got on the waiting list. Luckily
there was a cancellation so he will be bringing his guitar and joining
our "clown band"!
At this same Rainbow Gathering we held a series of International Fiddling
Workshops and Katya attended these with her fiddle. At the time she
was a classical violinist and was introduced to Irish fiddling at this
gathering. She returned to Russia and has become an accomplished
Irish fiddler in addition to her work as a web designer. For 16 years
now Katya has been asking me, "Henry, when are you coming to Russia?"
Finally the big trip is happening. I will be flying over a week early
and Katya will be giving me the big tour of one of the world's most beautiful,
artistic cities, Saint Petersburg (abbrev. Peter). In addition we
will be playing music with her friends and planning for our musical programs
to be held when the clown tour is in Peter two weeks later. More
on those programs below.
Rich accompanies Henry on his musical saw playing Over the Rainbow at
2009 Rainbow Gathering. (4:32, requires Windows Media Player or equivalent)
More About Katya
As I explained above, in 1995 I attended a Rainbow Gathering in the
Czech Republic. There were people there from about 50 countries and
it was my first truly international experience. There were many fiddlers
and violinists among us so it was only natural that we would get together
for workshops to learn tunes and styles of music from each other.
This is where I met Katya who was only 18 years old at the time.
I taught the "International Fiddlers Workshop" to play a simple but driving
tune called Dancing Bear which we played together many times during
A few years later, I was astonished to find a web page that was discussing
"Henry the Fiddler" but which was written in the Russian language. You
can see it here. I soon recognized Katya's picture at the top
of the page and ran the text through a translator. Here's one of
the translated paragraphs.
I met Henry in person and under his
leadership was involved in all manner of affairs, such as the Magic Hat
or simply providing musical accompaniment to lift the spirit in the kitchen.
We even played once for the press. People came from a local environmental
newspaper, "Green Circle". Henry is a classy person (although it
is clear that he's American :) and always wearing snow white shorts) and
a wonderful musician. Where today has thrown his fate?
So I emailed Katya and let her know I was alive and well in the USA.
And ever since then (over a decade ago), Katya has been inviting me to
come to Russia. She also informs me that she has taught many of her
fellow Russian folk musicians the tune Dancing Bear. Katya
is an original member of the Celtic ensemble Welladay, which has performed
all over Europe and Russia.
I just met Kate a few months ago (July, 2011) at the Oregon Country
Fair. Patch introduced her to me as his new Executive Assistant and
also a fiddler. I'm just getting to know her, but can tell you she
is both world travelled and worldly wise at a level far beyond her youth.
In addition to her music, administrative abilites and world travels, Kate
is also an avid advocate for the environment, an excellent public speaker
and a writer to boot! She's part of Wavy
Gravy's Camp Winnarainbow community where she met Patch. Kate
was on the 2010 Russia Clown Tour and provided the fiddle music while Patch
called contra dances (link below). This year, Kate, Rich and myself
will form the nucleus of the "clown tour band". When not busy globetrotting
herself, Kate can be found at Gesundheit's Urbana, Illinois headquarters
supporting the globetrotting of it's zany founder, Dr Patch Adams.
You can learn more about Kate thru these links and YouTubes!
Immediately after telling Katya I was coming to Russia we started planning
for a special evening program which will feature musical exchange between
the musicians on the clown tour and local Russian musicians. Katya
suggested we do this at a local Saint Petersburg club called Jao-Da,
The Chinese Pilot. This is the venue for Peter's Irish music
sessions. This is a perfect choice since the club manager is a man
named Seva who is a cellist and knows Patch.
We've scheduled this program for Friday, Nov. 18th at 8:00 PM.
Of course myself, Kate, Rich, Katya and Patch will be there, along with
many of Katya's folk music friends. All the clowns are invited and
the program will be open to the public. This will be a wonderful
way to end our two week tour in Russia. We look forward to a fun,
rich and exciting evening of music and cultural exchange.