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Cowgirl just fiddlin around
By LISA BRITTON
For the Baker City Herald
The way she tells it, Stefannie Gordon never had a chance.
She was destined to be a musician.
“I came out of my mom dancing,” she says with a grin. “And Mom and Dad always had a love of music.”
She’s known around these parts for her fast fiddle music, lending an old-fashioned atmosphere to parades, parties and wagon encampments at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
But there’s no need to wait for a special event — Gordon plays at 7 p.m. every Friday at the Geiser Grand Hotel and every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at York’s (except this Saturday — she’s going to the St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Heppner).
Friday night she’ll play some Irish pub songs, and encourages listeners to join in.
“I won’t sing alone — everybody would leave!” she says.
Gordon was born in Pennsylvania, in Amish Country. Her family moved to Connecticut when she was 6 months old.
“I was nine years old when I started fiddle,” she says.
Fiddle wasn’t exactly popular.
“I grew up in preppy Fairfield, Conn. It was really snooty and I told God I’d never be snooty.”
She started classical violin lessons in fourth grade.
“Violin was fine, but once I heard that fiddle music ...”
She kept up with her violin lessons, but practiced the fiddle in secret, when her parents left the house.
“I’d turn the radio on and play fiddle and rock ‘n’ roll,” she says.
(A violin and fiddle are the same instruments — the difference is how you play it.)
She describes herself as a cowgirl.
“I’d go to the symphonies with a cowboy hat,” she says.
At age 13, the violin took her to Carnegie Hall, where she played in three concerts a year for the next three years.
“It was amazing. I still get goose bumps.”
She studied nursing, musical therapy and education.
She lives those three — she is a certified nurses aide, plays music in nursing homes, and gives music lessons.
She’s helped others learn the fiddle since she was 9.
“They knew I wouldn’t make fun of them if they made a mistake,” she says. “You have to hear it and feel it, but practice makes great.”
Before work brought her West in 2003, Gordon played in Nashville and toured with bluegrass and country music bands.
She prefers the pace of life out here.
“This is God’s country and you couldn’t pay me to go back,” she says. “The greatest weather, the greatest people.”
Plus, she’s a cowgirl.
“My black cowboy hat makes me spunkier than my white one. And if you take my hat away, I can’t hardly fiddle,” she says.
But then she smiles.
Chances are, even if she didn’t have a hat, she wouldn’t turn down a chance to fiddle.
“I love to see people kick up their heels,” she said.