After 20 years performing in Celtic and contra dance bands and a lifetime of playing traditional fiddle music, Tim Ball takes center stage with his new solo release Upstate Crossroads. This album sheds new light on nearly-forgotten tunes and old favorites from all corners of New York State, drawing repertoire and inspiration from the surrounding Irish-American, New England, Canadian, and Bluegrass traditions. From these deep roots in dance tunes and folk songs, Tim’s music tells stories about hard work, immigration, community, and simple pleasures.
Tim brings a wealth of performing experience from other projects. He is the guitarist for the acclaimed Celtic trio Arise & Go, weaving together a unique blend of traditional Scottish, Irish, and Atlantic Canadian music. Tim performs frequently with well-loved Renaissance festival bands Empty Hats and Cantiga. He has toured throughout the northeastern US with contra dance bands Center Street, Tempest, and Tunescape. In addition, he’s performed and taught at respected music and dance camps such as Ashokan and Pinewoods. Over the years, Tim has cultivated a rare ability to approach each style of music that he plays on its own terms, always interpreting in his unmistakable voice.
Traditional music became part of Tim’s life at the age of 5, when his father brought home two tin whistles and a method book and they learned to play together. He devoured his parents’ LP collection, listening to groups such as The Boys of the Lough and Fennig’s All-Star String Band. Other influential recordings included Sackett’s Harbor, a CD of fiddle tunes from 19th century upstate New York manuscripts, and Toss the Feathers, a cassette sent from Ireland by his grandmother with a note indicating that the tenor banjo player was also their plumber. While attending Ithaca College Tim became an avid contra dancer and eventually an in-demand contra dance musician, afterwards falling headfirst into Ithaca’s vibrant Irish session scene.
Tim holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Ithaca College, where he studied with Susan Waterbury. In the fiddle world, he has sought out respected mentors in the New England and Irish-American traditions, including David Kaynor, Brian Conway, and Ed McGowan. Tim has also studied early music, jazz improvisation, Suzuki Pedagogy, and the Creative Ability Development method.
When he is not performing, Tim teaches string ensemble at the Ithaca Waldorf School, directs the Finger Lakes Fiddle Orchestra, leads Irish sessions, serves as a visiting lecturer in violin at Cornell University, and maintains a private violin and fiddle studio in Ithaca, NY.