The Groove is Not Trivial

A fiddler on stage in front of a full audience

Tommie Dell Smith
2016 | 62 mins
Country of Production: USA
Countries Featured: Spain, USA, United Kingdom
NY Premiere

Scottish folk music was stigmatized as unsophisticated in Alasdair Fraser's youth, stifling his creativity. Now he is a master fiddle teacher. Follow his transformation as he travels the world teaching traditional Scottish music and leading a global revival of Scottish culture. 


Resilience in Motion | In Their Own Words

“The Groove is Not Trivial is an independent documentary film that highlights the themes of cultural revival, resilience, and resistance to oppression. The Scottish people have long been successful resistors of attempted cultural erasure dating as far back as the Roman Empire. However, in not-so-distant history, the domination of Scotland’s rich and diverse heritage by the British Empire has shaken the security of open celebration and cultural pride in the country. Highly acclaimed international Scottish fiddle artist, performer extraordinaire, and the primary subject of the documentary, Alasdair Fraser, poignantly states, ‘If you want to keep a people down, hit them in the culture where it hurts.’ Under the British Empire, Scottish music, language, dress, and dance have been suppressed, at times made illegal, and been driven underground in a tragic historic episode now referred to as the Cultural Cringe.

The Groove is Not Trivial follows the story of Scotland’s cultural and artistic resilience, resistance to erasure, and sheer joy in celebrating freedom of self expression. Through the wildly entertaining lens of Alasdair Fraser and his tenacious global community of fiddlers, the film explores themes of cultural resilience, political and personal freedom from oppression, the importance of cultural vibration in diaspora, and ecstatic rediscovery of rich historical roots. Gone are the secretive days when Scottish grandparents taught children traditional tunes behind closed doors in the Gaelic tongue just to keep the culture alive. The Cultural Cringe is lifting and the irrepressible Scottish cultural celebration has reclaimed the streets! 

Whether knowledgeable about traditional Scottish music or a complete novice, folks of all stripes find powerful connection to the film’s energetic, free-spirited sound and politically relevant theme of cultural reclamation and resilience.”

– Tommie Dell Smith | Director, The Groove is Not Trivial