The Reel Thing is a western Connecticut-based band specializing in music for traditional social dances, costumed, authentic colonial dances and music from the 18th century, workshops for children and adults, and community “barn” dances. The group is made up of experienced, professional musicians who have a passion for folk music, dancing and performing.
Bill Campbell plays guitar and bass guitar for the band. In addition to his many years of experience, Bill teaches beginner guitar to adults and children. His musical career began in the ’60’s with formal instruction from the Rudi Lionetti Studio in Stamford. He played with bands in high school and college, and he has performed with groups at NOMAD. His other musical passions include the harmonica and bodhran (Irish drum), and he sang for a number of years with the Newtown Choral Society. Bill collects any instruments he sees and hangs them on the wall or makes them living room art. He actually plays some of them. His collection includes multiple harmonicas, violins, guitars, bodhran, stringed pennywhistle, nose flutes, tambourine and mountain dulcimer, along with his wife’s piano, uke, and tambourines. Along with his many other talents, Bill is the genius at making sense of all the sound equipment.
Fran Hendrickson has been a dance musician since 1977. She enjoys playing tunes for Colonial Social Dancing, Traditional Squares and Family Dances on either piano or accordion, and has recorded with Connecticut groups Jackson Pike Skifflers and Spring Fever. With her husband Chip, they formed the Hendrickson Group, The Colonial Dancing Master, in 1988 to research and publish dances and music from the 2nd half of the 18th-century from primary sources. Fran recorded several albums of 18th-century dance music to accompany the choreography in Chip’s books. The Hendricksons taught and performed up and down the East Coast, for Loyalist Days in Saint John, N.B., and in France. Their specialty was the Minuet. Fran continues to give lessons in the Minuet. From 1979 to 2009, Fran was the Coordinator of the Danbury Senior Center where, among her duties, she organized a musical band called The Cellmates, 1984 – 20013, a lively group of senior citizens are ages 60 through their 90s who played old time music and song. Fran conceived, organized and managed the NOMAD Festival for its first nine years, of it’s 20 years, fulfilling a dream to bring an all volunteer, participatory festival to life, to share with others and to carry on the various folk traditions to the next generation. Fran re-organized her business in 2012 as “Hendrickson Group LLC – The Colonial Dancing Master” to continue her late husband’s research and to perform and present programs on 18th century life.
Sue Hill took up the fiddle in September of 1999 and discovered her love for traditional music. Nine months later she entered the New England Fiddle Contest and joined the Old Tyme Fiddlers Club. Growing up in Bristol, CT she played fife in Carey’s Cadets and later learned to strum the guitar. As an adult, she sang in a church choir where she learned to site read and harmonize. She was influenced by her father who played the harmonica and trumpet and her aunt and grandparents who played the piano. Sue has studied and taken classes with Becky Tracy, Donna Hebert, Jane Rothfield, Jay Ungar, David Kaynor and George Wilson. In September, 2006 she won first place in the Intermediate Division at the Blandford Fiddle Contest. Sue also runs a bi-monthly jam in Bristol and gives fiddle lessons. For the past five years, Sue has been holding square and contra dance classes for intellectually challenged adults. She is also a member of the Barn Band, Pot Luck, and Connecticut’s Bristol Old Tyme Fiddlers as well as a guest member for various other bands.
Julie Sorcek, who plays flute and saxophone for The Reel Thing, began playing flute at age 10. Aside from experience playing with high school and college symphonic bands, Julie has performed with the Danbury Community Orchestra, and at the NOMAD, Old Songs and Philadelphia Folk Festivals. At the Old Songs and Philadelphia Folk Festivals, she performs with the band Groovemama, and teaches young musicians about playing folk music and fiddle tunes with her Groovemama bandmates. Julie has been a guest musician with the contra dance bands Jane’s Gang and Out on a Whim. She is a founding member of the contra dance band Wry Bred, and also performs with the folk group Chicks ‘n Sync. Julie can be seen on a regular basis performing with other area musicians at restaurants and coffeehouses in the greater Danbury, CT area. She is the concert band and guitar ensemble director at Immaculate High School in Danbury. Her repertoire on flute and sax includes contra dance, Celtic, Colonial, jazz, classical, old time, bluegrass and folk music.