First Friday, April 3, will be a special celebration at Fiddlers Crossing, starting at 7 p.m. A host of local musicians will be on hand to help mark the fifth anniversary for the popular venue. Fiddlers Crossing first opened on Saturday, April 17, 2010, with a performance by local band Geezers on the Loose. The establishment opened as “a work in progress” in what had been the Art Center.
According to co-founder Peter Cutler, “We threw a venue together with whatever we had lying around, slapped some ugly paint on the walls and some even uglier fabrics and chairs, and did our first show with the Geezers. We had no particular plan and no idea of how to actually run a venue like this. But, if we are anything, we are stubborn and absolutely REFUSED to take NO for an answer! It’s amazing what blind faith and ignorance can achieve!”
Five years later, Fiddlers Crossing is presenting two concerts a month with some of the biggest names in acoustic music today, in Celtic, folk, blues, bluegrass, Western, Americana and acoustic pop genres. Many of the shows have been sold out, and purchasing tickets early is advised. In fact, some Fiddlers Crossing concerts are presented in larger venues, such as the BeeKay Theatre and St. Jude’s in the Mountains Episcopal Church. The 2014 Christmas show, featuring Celtic group Molly’s Revenge, singer Crista Burch and Irish dancers, sold out two performances in the BeeKay on a Sunday.
Shows in the venue are based on a “house concert” model, with coffee (many say the best in town), tea, dessert, and an opportunity to chat with the artists one-on-one. The goal is to provide an intimate, magical evening that transports the audience out of their day-to-day lives.
Over the last five years, the building has been upgraded, including new heating and air conditioning units. The venue has been redecorated, including the addition of wood flooring and comfortable chairs. The whimsical paintings of local artist Kathleen Hensler Wolf, and the photographs of old musical instruments by Sonja Bronson adorn the walls.
Cutler says that Fiddlers Crossing’s reputation with the performing community is such that he is getting booking requests on an almost daily basis from new artists as well as ones who had such a great time here that they want to come back as soon as they can. “They like the vibe of the venue,” he says, “the sound, the food and the way we treat them, and most of all, they love the audience here in Tehachapi. This is the best audience around. They really listen, and they are unfailingly enthusiastic, welcoming and appreciative. Plus they buy CD’s — the perfect crowd!”
The loyal audience has been the real driver of the Fiddlers Crossing success story, according to Cutler, and deserves a big round of applause.
Fiddlers Crossing hosts the improvisational theatre group, CIA (Center for Improvisational Advancement), from Bakersfield once a month. The venue is also available for rent, and has been the scene of a wedding, several birthday parties, including a hip-hop dance party for 11-year-olds, a “Bridging” party for a boy scout troop, a Rotary tea, several CD and book signing parties, and other events, as well as Mountain Music music lessons.
The Fiddlers Crossing concert schedule and online ticket sales may be found at fiddlerscrossing.com. They invite people to “friend” them on facebook. Regular ticket outlets include the Tehachapi Treasure Trove (which now also hosts Mountain Music’s retail products), Tehachapi Furniture, and Lucky’s Barbershop. Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street, in downtown Tehachapi.