LEWISTON – Bates College has expanded its popular, outdoor Midsummer Lakeside Concert Series this year, which leads off with a champion fiddler on Thursday, July 8. This year a sixth concert has been added to the lineup.

The concerts are in the intimate amphitheater overlooking the college’s Lake Andrews. The series opens Thursday with a trio led by Jeremy Kittel, winner of the 2000 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championship.

All concerts take place at 6 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 12 and afford a variety of family friendly music at no admission cost. They’re held in the Florence Keigwin Amphitheater, overlooking the college’s pond near Russell Street, which is ringed with a tree-shaded path. Concertgoers should bring blankets or lawn chairs and are welcome to carry in non-alcoholic beverages and picnics, according to Bates. (In case of rain, concerts are moved inside to the adjacent Olin Arts Center Concert Hall.)

In additional to Kittel, this summer’s performers are the Franco-American folk band Boreal Tordu (July 15); the accordion combo Maine Squeeze (July 22); Maine folksinger Martin Swinger (July 29); a “world jazz” band, the GBS Trio (Aug. 5); and a klezmer quintet, the Casco Bay Tummlers (Aug. 12).

For more information, people can call the Bates Office of Special Projects and Summer Programs, 786-6400.

Unusual “first violin”

Kittel holds national awards for improvisation, jazz and Scottish fiddle, and has performed in Irish, bluegrass, rock and classical settings. In honor of his musicianship, he is the first recipient of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin, handcrafted by Maine violin-maker Jonathan Cooper and commissioned by the Daniel Pearl Foundation, dedicated to cross-cultural understanding. It commemorates the slain American reporter, an accomplished violinist and fiddler. Kittel will have the violin for a year.

Kittel was named Outstanding Acoustic/Folk Instrumentalist at the 2004 Detroit Music Awards and won the University of Michigan school of music’s highest honor, the Stanley Medal.

He combines the best of Celtic traditions and the best of jazz, playing driving reels and jigs, and beautiful slow airs with catchy syncopation and a youthful sense of exploration.

Kittel has performed on public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

In 2000, the Britain-based Celtic Connections magazine called “Celtic Fiddle,” Kittel’s first CD, “the best by a new young artist.”

Its follow-up, “Roaming,” has received rave reviews from such publications as Sing Out, Dirty Linen and Fiddler Magazine.

Franco tunes

Maine’s Boreal Tordu brings a fresh approach to a variety of traditional Francophone music and evokes the romance, tragedy, passion and lust for life that distinguish Franco-American culture. Basing its sound on the music of the Acadians and the Québécois, this quartet offers a rhythmically unstoppable, lyrical blend of Acadian folk, Cajun swing, maritime ballads, fiddle tunes and infectious dance music.

Maine Squeeze, from Portland, features four accordionists and a percussionist. The band plays “eclectic ethnic” music that brings a broad scope to European and North American folk and pop.

A typical set may range from French Canadian reels and a Swedish waltz to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Beer Barrel Polka.”

Maine Squeeze has performed at a variety of Maine and regional venues, including the New England Folk Festival, and is known for its Friday-evening appearances at Portland Sea Dogs’ baseball games.

Based in Farmington, Swinger is an award-winning contemporary folk musician who performs original and traditional tunes with a specialty of songs for children.

He has played the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas and such Maine events as the Maine Pride Festival and the Common Ground Fair.

Creating worldly jazz

The GBS Trio consists of three Portland musicians. Barbara Truex is known for her performance on dulcimer and ukulele, as well as for her songwriting and work as a theatrical sound designer. Austrian native Gerhard Graml is a classically trained bassist who brings an experimental approach to jazz performance and composition.

From Iran, percussionist Shamou also incorporates musical influences from the African diaspora. Together, they forge a kind of “world jazz” that ranges from the beautifully melodic to intrepid improvisation.

Finally, Portland’s Casco Bay Tummlers have been performing klezmer music for 15 years.

A quintet playing woodwinds, accordion, bass and percussion, this versatile band explores myriad facets of the Jewish musical heritage, from traditional dances to Yiddish theater and ghetto songs, all with original arrangements. They also teach traditional circle and line dances.

They have performed in Germany and Lithuania, released two recordings and been featured on an L.L. Bean holiday CD.

The concerts are free.

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