Listening is an extremely important part of playing fiddle. There are many excellent fiddlers with a wide variety of styles and sounds, and the best way to learn is to listen to a lot of them and try to emulate the ones you like.
Here are a bunch of recommendations… folks that I listen to, admire, and to varying degrees, try to sound like. I’ll try to share stuff here once a month or so.
I have two directions to send you in listening –
Beautiful music. But no fiddles on the entire CD! So…
The second: Liz Carroll http://www.lizcarroll.com/ – required listening for anyone who is remotely interested in Irish fiddle tunes. She’s one of the best fiddle players out there and one of the best tune-composers out there. She has a long, long list of CDs, all of which are great, and available just about anywhere (Amazon/iTunes/whatever). A good diving in point might be “In Play” with guitarist John Doyle (or at least, that was my first extended listen to her).
One of the best contra dance bands going right now (and some good friends of mine)!
They have only one CD, “Waiting for the Snow” which is an exquisite blend of music for listening and dancing. It’s available through their website.
There are also loads of videos of them playing for dances… start looking for them here: http://www.noreasterband.com/media/
My most-listened-to band for the last couple of months has been this group of Irish musicians in their 20’s and 30’s from New York, Chicago, and Boston. Their fiddler, Dylan Foley, recently won the All-Ireland fiddle championship.
They have 2 albums out, the first was, at the time of this writing, available to download for free. Check them out!