Fiddle Talk, WRC8-6844 - 1995
April Verch, fiddle; Pete Beaudoin, percussion; Guy Bossy, tenor banjo, steel; Charles Grassi, piano; Brian Hebert, piano; Carol Kennedy, piano; Bobby Lalonde, piano, percussion, acoustic guitar, bass, mandolin, accordian; Erin Searson, piano
Produced by Brian Hebert and Bobby Lalonde; Engineer: Bobby Lalonde; Recorded at BOLAB Audio Production Studios, Fournier, Ontario
Tracks: Ralphy’s Jig* - Cape Breton Dream
- Irish Washerwoman - Angus Campbell - The Old Man and The Old Woman -
Grizzly Bear - Walker Street - Jordan’s Reel; Pat’s Two-step - Fred and
Wilma’s Polka; Silver Wishes*; Half Penny Reel - Wind That Shakes The Barley
- Jamie Hardie - Dominion Reel; G Major Jig - Mowin’ The Hay - Charlie
Hunter’s - Jig For The Duelings*; Jesse Polka; April’s Waltz; Tribute To
Ward Allen: Two-Step Polka - Pappy Daily’s Breakdown - Pretty Betty Reel
- Fishing Rod Reel; Air - Sir Martin Rochford - New Year’s In - Lady Anne
Montgomery; Bye Bye Blackbird; Gospel Medley: Softly and Tenderly - Sweet
Hour Of Prayer - What A Friend; Rolling Thunder Reel - Fiddler’s Valley
Reel - Comin’ Home*
Hey there! Well, here it is, my second fiddle recording!
I would like to thank my parents and my sister for their love, understanding and support, not only for this project, but for my entire life in music. A big thanks to Brian Hebert and Bobby Lalonde, for their hard work, advice and ‘attempts’ at jokes during the long hours. You two are great and this wouldn’t have been possible without you! Also, thanks to Louis Schryer for his help and inspiration, to all my friends who have always been there for me, and to my fellow fiddlers for their encouragement.
One of my favorite bible verses is 1 Peter 4:10, which says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” This recording is just one more way for me to share talent and love God has given me for the fiddle, and fiddle fans such as yourselves.
As I gain more experience with my music, I find myself balancing my old tyme style and influences with some new ideas, further developing my style. The material gathered on this recording reflects my present style, including some traditional tunes and some brand new. Whatever the piece, I assure you that each note played is a little piece of me and comes straight from my heart. I guess that’s what truly makes my fiddle talk! I hope you’ll enjoy what it has to say!
PS. We will not be held responsible for any injuries due to uncontrollable foot tapping. However, should you experience lack of movement in your feet while listening to this recording, please contact your doctor.
April Verch, fiddle, feet, step dancing; Trent Bruner, piano; Calvin Vollrath, acoustic rhythm guitar, harmony fiddles; Derek Stremel, electric bass, acoustic lead guitar; Bill Hobson, drums; Gary Koliger, acoustic lead guitar; Marc Bru, spoons, bodhran; Dave Babcock, saxophone; Mike Lent, upright bass; Taylor Buckley, lead fiddle; Fiona Coll, 2nd fiddle; Casey Driessen, 5-string fiddle
Produced by Calvin Vollrath and April Verch; Engineered by Jerry Woolsey and Luigi Costrelli; Recorded at Beta Sound Recorders, Edmonton, Alberta, March 1998
Tracks: Thanks to Emma; Waiting for Home**;
Marche des ouvriers / Polka Sainte-Rose; Chopman***; Bluebird Waltz; The
Unfortunate Rake / The Ballinakill Ditch / Barrel Rafferty’s Jig; Words
Aren’t Enough: Marc’s air, march and reel*; Say Old Man; Reel de Boucherville
/ Clog de Pariseau / Reel de Valleyfield; Golden Memories*; A Reel Dare*;
It’s Gonna Cost Ya!#; Creaking Tree; Nearer My God To Thee; Jolly Dolly
Polka / Juniper Jig / The Shetland Fiddler / Woodridge Breakdown;
**with Trent Bruner; ***with Fiona Coll; # with Taylor Buckley;
This, my third recording, is in many ways representative of the certainties and departures my life and my music career have taken in the past few years. Having a strong traditional background and a first and forever love of traditional fiddle music, I have also been introduced to some new styles while spending my year studying fiddle at Berklee College of Music in Boston. There is a great variety of different flavours of fiddling on this album, some traditional, some new, and some for which you may not yet have acquired a taste. It is my hope that you will appreciate the familiar and explore the new with me. Savour our roots and realize their possibilities in evolution. By making this recording with some of my musical heroes, I learned a great deal and experienced a dream come true. Now my sincere wish is that you enjoy it… because it is for everyone of you.Verch-u-os-i-ty, Rounder Records 82161-7019-2, 2001
April Verch is a young fiddle player who I met in 1995 at the Mark O’Connor fiddle camp in Nashville. I’ve heard her play a number of times since then and am always impressed by the precision and tonality of her performance. Very capable in all types of tunes, April plays the aires and waltzes with a beautiful warmth and sweetness and the jigs and reels with a powerful lift and richness. Combining her impressive technical ability and her sense of feeling and emotion, April captures the essence of the music she plays.
Thanks to Emma (Calvin Vollrath) – This was my tune of choice when I won the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championship in 1997. Composed by one of my favourite fiddlers and composers, Calvin Vollrath, for the 10th Anniversary of the ‘Emma Lake Fiddle Camp’ in Saskatchewan, it never fails to bring a smile to my face and makes everyone feel like dancing.
Waiting for Home (Trent Bruner / April Verch) – Trent and I composed this waltz long distance style, mailing tapes back and forth to each other. It is named for Trent’s parents Howard and Gerta Bruner and the home they dreamed of since their marriage and finally built and moved into in 1997.
Marche des ouvriers / Polka Sainte-Rose (Alfred Montmarquette) – I learned these tunes off a tribute CD to the music of a French Canadian accordion player, Alfred Montmarquette (1871 – 1944). We had fun doing our traditional arrangements of these great French tunes.
Chopman (Fiona Coll / April Verch) – Chopman was created by my good friend Fiona Coll (Calgary, Alberta) and myself at the Mark O’Connor fiddle camp in Nashville after an inspiring class on ‘fiddle chopping techniques’ we took from Darol Anger … Chopman himself! Fiona and I were pleased to have Casey Driessen, an experienced ‘chopper’ from Chicago help us out on this one.
Bluebird Waltz (Evan Price) – This beautiful waltz was composed by an American fiddle friend of mine, Evan Price. An amazing fiddler, classical and jazz violinist, I was bugging him to hear one of his original compositions. He kept telling me he didn’t have any, until he wrote this first one, and everyone’s glad he did.
The Unfortunate Rake / The Ballinakill Ditch / Barrel Rafferty’s Jig (traditional) – I’ve always enjoyed playing traditional Irish jigs. I’ve known the first one in this set for a long time, and the last two are ones I learned from the wonderful Irish band Cherish The Ladies.
Word’s Aren’t Enough: Marc’s Aire, March and Reel (April Verch) – I wanted to write a tune for my boyfriend, Marc Bru, to include on this album but had a difficult time deciding what to rite, ad he enjoys every type of tune equally. I finally decided to write an aire because I have always found them to be uniquely expressive and I certainly felt that it was through this tune that I could share feelings which can only, if not best, be expressed through music. After composing it, I was playing around one day and decided it would also sound great as a march or even a reel. And so Marc ended up with a whole set of tunes. This set of tunes is my gratitude, my joy, my hope and my love bundled up in one package to tell him everything I will always show him and feel for him but never know how to say … because ‘word’s aren’t enough’.
Say Old Man (traditional) – I picked up this traditional Texas tune during one of my stays in Nashville. We tried some slap rhythm and our own licks on this one and now it sounds … well, just like we wanted; a couple of Canadians playing a Texas tune!
Reel de Boucherville / Clog de Pariseau / Reel de Valleyfield (Alfred Montmarquette) – Three more great tunes by Alfred Montmarquette. These French Canadian tunes were originally played on the accordion, but as we discovered, no matter what instrument you play them on, they have the same effect … an invitation to dance.
Golden Memories (April Verch) – My neighbour, the late Verner Hammel, asked me to write an old time waltz for his wife, Idella, on the occasion of their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Unfortunately, Verner passed away before ever having a chance to hear it. I dedicated this track to both of them for their support and friendship.
A Reel Dare (April Verch) – At the Prince Albert Winter Festival Fiddle Contest in 1998, about an hour before the finals for the Championship class, Calvin said to me, “I dare you to write a new reel and play it in the contest tonight.” It started as a dare and then I had to prove to myself that I could do it, so I took the challenge. It got me first place and a pretty good tune, so we recorded this one JUST with feet and I dare say it turned out okay!
It’s Gonna Cost Ya! (Taylor Buckley / April Verch) – Taylor Buckley of Roundup, Montana, is a good friend of mine and, although we don’t get to see each other very often, when we do, we enjoy many a jam session and a few composing sprees. This is a tune we wrote together at Emma Lake in 1997 and we named it for Calvin. When ever we ask him for a favour he always jokes with us and tells us ‘It’s Gonna Cost Ya!’
Creaking Tree (Darol Anger) – Composed by renowned bluegrass fiddler, Darol Anger, this tune is a lot of fun to play. It has a flavour all its own and while sitting in the studio, we came up with a funky version that suits it just right!
Nearer My God To Thee (traditional) – This particular hymn holds a very special place in my heart because it was one of my Grandpa Doering’s favourites, and it is the one I played for him at his funeral on December 28, 1997. Thank you Grandpa, for your wonderful Christian example, your friendship and your love. This one is for you.
Jolly Dolly Polka (Andy DeJarlis) / Juniper Jig (traditional) / The Shetland Fiddlers (traditional) / Woodridge Breakdown (Andy DeJarlis) – This last medley was recorded without us even realizing it while Calvin, Trent and I were jamming. When Jerry played it back for us we liked it so much we decided to include it on Fiddelicious. Enjoy!
I want to start by thanking my fiddle fans, old and new. Your continued support and encouragement give me reason to play, record and you make every effort worthwhile.
I had an extraordinary team to work with this time around. Thank you to each and every musician. You all helped to make the music come alive with your talent and skill, and you were all a treat to work with. To the composers who allowed me to interpret and record their music, my sincere appreciation. Jerry Woolsey, your patience and expertise amaze me.
It was a dream come true to have Calvin Vollrath both play on and produce this album. Thanks for the inspiration, honest advice and knowledge you shared with me Calvin, you will always be my favourite.
To my family, friends and teachers, thank you for your understanding and support. A special thanks to my best friend Stacha Sauk who is a treasure rarely found. To my sister and brother-in-law, Tawnya and Kevin Thomas, thank you for being there every time I need you. To my parents, Ralph and Muriel Verch, there are no words great enough to express my appreciation for all you do for me. I am what I am because of you. Also, to my boyfriend Marc, who has been involved in this recording with me right from the beginning, and who is always there to understand, encourage and take me as I am, thank you. You are all my heroes and I love you.
So many other people have supported me and have helped make this recording possible. It is impossible for m to thank or name every one of you, but you know who you are and have my appreciation always. A very special thank you to: Bruce and Waneta Murray, Glenn Gibson, Joel and Rose Duhaime, Melanie Gross, Brian Waring and Audrey Mowchenko.
Finally, thank you Lord for showing me once again that I can ‘do everything through him who gives me strength’. (Philippians 4:13) May you work your talents through me to glorify your name.
April Verch, fiddle, step dancing, feet; Paul Mills, guitar, mandolin, electric bass; Dennis Pendrith, string bass, electric bass; Tom Leighton, piano, accordion; Marc Bru, spoons, bodhran, shakers, feet; Eamonn O'Rourke, mandolin; Ian Bell, button accordion; Chris Coole, frailed banjo, guitar; Bob Deangelis, soprano sax, clarinet; Paul Odegaard, dumbec, clave, djembe; Gray Townsend, piano
Produced and Engineered by Paul Mills; Recorded January, 2000 at GMS Studios, Scarborough, Ont
Tracks: William Gagnon; Ross' Reel no. 4; Britany*; Fire When Ready**; Canadian Reel Medley: Trip to Windsor / Back Up & Push / Dusty Miller / Woodchoppers Breakdown; 6/8 du Petit Sarny / Une Marche de Thomas Pomerleau / Reel Andre Alain; Diabinho Malucco; Eldon & Ethel*; Massif Central***; Lost Boy; Marry Me*; Thomas Reel*; Le Bedeau de l'Enfer / Contradanse a Pitou / Reel de la Broue; Sneaky**; Tribute to the Townsends: Ridgeway Merchant / Road To Lake Dore / Gilles Roy / Donnie Gilchrist's Breakdown; The Old Rugged Cross
** with Taylor Buckley
*** by husband Marc Bru
A funny thing happens to an audience when April Verch performs. It's kind of like putting a match under a thermometer. the reaction begins with polite attention as the young, petite musician takes the stage. "She's probably good," you say to yourself. Then the music starts, and when the bow starts to fly across the strings, jaws start to drop in the audience. Behind the demure facade is a master fiddler, her talent belying both her age and the audience's expectations. your next thought: "Wait a minute, is all that sound coming from her?"From Where I Stand, Rounder Records 116 617 046-2 - 2003
As Verch continues to play, whether it's standards like "Big John McNeil," or original compositions, you get the sudden satisfying feeling that you're in the presence of a rare talent. On her fiddle playing alone, Verch gives you a full show. But she doesn't stop there. Just as you think you've got a handle on the Canadian musician from the Great White North, Verch heats things up a degree or 10 with her virtuoso step dancing. Feet flying. bow hand racing, left hand never missing a note - it's part fiddle frenzy and part Olympic event.
Amazed at what you've seen and keen to learn more, you do a little research. One after the other, your suspicions are confirmed.
LIFELONG TALENT: April started step dancing at the age of three. By six she'd taken up the fiddle. Before long, as the story goes, she could do both at the same time.
SUPERB TRAINING: She has studied with fiddling champions and experts from across Canada. She also studied music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, with fiddle icons Matt Glaser and Darol Anger. As accomplished violinist as well, Verch spent nine years in classical training.
TEACHING CREDENTIALS: She has taught private fiddle and step dancing lessons for ten years. she created and ran a music camp for children. She is often invited to guest teach at fiddle camps and workshops.
PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS: More than 400 at last count. Canadian Grand Master Fiddling Champion, Canadian Open Fiddling champion, finalist in the Grand Masters Fiddling Championship in Nashville.
FREQUENT FLIER: As a headliner, special guest and backing musician, Verch has literally traveled the world. She's toured across Canada, in the United States and the United Kingdom. Amongst many honors, she was a guest at Chet Atkins' tribute in Nashville, along with a host of Grand Ole Opry stars. she traveled to Dubai to entertain the Canadian Military Troops.
STUDIO TIME: Around the age many artists are thinking about maybe trying to put an album together, April has four. Her previous recordings, Springtime Fiddle, Fiddle Talk and Fiddelicious have earned her airplay on radios all over the world. Now with her latest album, VERCHuosity, April Verch is set to impress a growing audience with her talent. Thermometers around the world are bound to feel the heat.
Spelled out in black-and-white, April's story seems almost too good to be true. Listen to it, however, and you'll believe every note.
1. William Gagnon - this tune, originally an Irish reel, was adapted by French-Canadian fiddler William Gagnon. French, Irish - call it what you will, it really grooves.
2. Ross' Reel no. 4 - I fell in love with this tune after hearing master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser play it. It's from the New England tradition, but we took it on a little trip to Brazil.
3. Britany - I wrote this waltz for a courageous young woman named Britany, who exemplifies tremendous strength and beauty. I send it out to the Carsons with love and prayers.
4. Fire When Ready - This tune is the result of two friends, a Canadian and an American, sitting down and trading licks. Perhaps that has something to do with it being one of those catchy, hard to describe tunes that I can never get enough of.
5. Canadian Reel Medley: Trip to Windsor / Back Up & Push / Dusty Miller / Woodchoppers Breakdown - You can't beat a medley of Canadian old-tyme favourites! The interview segment and first bit of 'Trip to Windsor' at the beginning of this track were recorded in 1990 on CHIP Fort Coulonge Radio. As well as mine, you'll hear the voice of favourite Ottawa Valley disc jockey and musician, the late Red Bennett. This medley is dedicated to Red and all of his listeners.
6. 6/8 du Petit Sarny / Une Marche de Thomas Pomerleau / Reel Andre Alain - This is a medley of French-Canadian tunes that I put together after learning them from two fantastic recordings: Reel a 2 and Airs Tordus.
7. Diabinho Malucco - The title of this Brazilian tune means "crazy little devil." Need I say more?
8. Eldon & Ethel - I wrote this tune for friends and neighbours of mine. Eldon and Ethel Keuhl, on the occasion of their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Congratulations to two very special people.
9. Massif Central - Massif Central is the region in France from where Marc's ancestors originated. This is an amazing tune, and - I'll warn you now - a tough one to get out of your head.
10. Lost Boy - I first met and hard Bruce Molsky play in July 1999 and he has been my favourite fiddler ever since. I learned this Appalachian gem from him.
11. Marry Me - I wrote this tune for my husband, Marc Bru. He is my strength, my joy, my soul mate and my best friend. I love you Marc.
12. Thomas Reel - If I had been able to hand pick my sister I know I would have picked exactly the one God gave me. I wrote this tune for Tawnya and her husband, Kevin Thomas.
13. Le Bedeau de l'Enfer / Contradanse a Pitou / Reel de la Broue - One can never get enough of those crooked French-Canadian tunes. Enjoy!
14. Sneaky - Another classic April and Taylor tune that falls between the cracks in terms of genre. Yep, we're a sneaky pair.
15. Tribute to the Townsends: Ridgeway Merchant / Road To Lake Dore / Gilles Roy / Donnie Gilchrist's Breakdown - This set of tunes is dedicated to Graham and Eleanor Townsend and to Gray Townsend. Graham and Eleanor will always be my fiddle heroes and I thank them for the many wonderful tunes and memories. Gray is one of the most talented pianists I have ever met and I thank him for his taste and ability in this tribute.
16. The Old Rugged Cross - "So I'll cherish the old rugged cross, 'til my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown."
This recording is dedicated to my husband Marc, my Mom and Dad (Muriel and Ralph), sister Tawnya and brother-in-law Kevin, who understand and support me through the laughter and tears. Your encouragement and your belief in me are what keep me going. I will never be able to thank you enough for all you do, and for making me who I am. I love you and thank God for you.
Very special thanks to all of the musicians who shared in this recording. I am in awe of your talents. I feel extremely fortunate to know you and to have played with you.
Special thanks to: Bruce Steele, you've started a wonderful thing. Jim Jesson, for believing in me and helping me out every chance you get. Bev Mills for the 10 star meals and great title. My family (the whole bunch) for your continuous support. Radio (you know who your are), for believing in me and sharing my music. My fans, for your support and for listening.
Very Special Thanks to: the composers of the wonderful tunes on this recording. I admire you and appreciate your contributions to the art. D'Addario Strings for my beautiful Helicore strings and your gracious support. Johnathan Simkin, where would I be without you... Grit, Bill, Paul and Ken, for your understanding, support and encouragement. I am proud to call a great group of musicians and people such as you my friends. Bruce Molsky for your help, advice and inspiration. Here's to a great beginning and loads more to come. Brian Waring at Interspin for designing and maintaining my website and being a friend.
Rounder Records and Ken Irwin for making me part of the team. I am so excited and ready for a great ride! Marc Bru for managing my career with expertise and enthusiasm and for your countless contributions to this recording. I couldn't have done it without you.
Paul Mills for helping me realize everything I intended for this recording, which means more to me than I can say. Your expertise in every aspect of this recording were invaluable. You are a terrific person (and make the best spaghetti I've ever had).
Thank you Lord for guiding me down this path in music, for holding my hand all the way, and for teaching me once again that "Everything's Possible for him who believes." Mark 9:23
There's been a revolution in the world of the fiddle in the last decade or so, and the young lady who's CD you are holding in your hands is at the forefront of this revolution. I watched with amazement as a number of young players have come to the fore who possess amazing technique, wonderful musicality, and great abilities in a variety of styles of music. I first met April Verch at Marc O'Connor's Fiddle Camp (a paradise for all you fiddle players out there, check it out.) She was a young lady who played extraordinary traditional Canadian fiddle and did some pretty amazing step dancing at the same time. She subsequently came to the Berklee College of Music in Boston where I teach, and I got a sense of the breadth and depth of her talent. I also realized that she's a star in Canada and I think she will very soon be a star in the United States. This album showcases her beautiful tone, musical phrasing, extraordinary drive, stylistic diversity, and all the qualities that make her among the cream of today's young fiddle players. TS Elliot said that April was the cruelest month, but if he had been around, he would have said that she was the greatest fiddler!!
Matt Glaser, String Department Chair, Berklee College of Music
April Verch, fiddle, vocals, step dancing; Mark Simos, guitar; Benoit Legault, piano; Stuart Kenney, bass; Bruce Molsky, guitar, fiddle, clawhammer banjo; Denis Frechette, saxophone; Michel Dupire, percussion; Michele Campagne, vocal harmony; Marc Bru, bodhran, harmonica; Connie Kaldor, harmony vocal; Rick Haworth, dobro; Tim Halliday, cello; Brian Bacon, viola; Kenneth Saulnier, mandolin; Sabin Jacques, accordean
Produced by Bruce Molsky; engineered by André Marchand; recorded May, 2002 at 'le studio du chemin 4,' Joliette, Québec; mixed May 2002 by Davy Galliant at Dogger Pond Music, Drummondville, Québec; mastered by Toby Mountain and Ken Irwin at Northeastern Digital, Southborough, Massachusetts; notes by Earle Hitchner; track notes by April Verch
Tracks: Fraser Valley Reel*; Reg & Irma's Waltz* / Reel du Gadeliderot / Reel de St. Marc; Spanish for Crown**; Light In The window; Bonnie Lass O' The Mornin' / Suite de Loudeac / Howling At The Moon / Sunset over Scariff; Faniuck's Fancy**; I'll Be All Smiles Tonight; Ottawa Valley Madley: Road to Fort Coulonge / The Welder's Jig / Morning Star / One For Dugald; Blue Pacific Hornpipe; August 19*; Dixie Hoedown; Jean; A Riverboat's Gone* / Bumblebee in a Jug; I Will Arise; Partie de Quadrille des Verret
** with Taylor Buckley
On From Where I Stand, her second recording for Rounder, Ontario fiddler, stepdancer, and composer April Verch displays a talent not previously heard on her solo releases - singing. She lends her winsome soprano to five songs: Greg Trooper's "Light In The window," AP Carter's "I'll Be All Smiles Tonight," Terry Gonda and Kirsti Reeve's "Jean," the traditional gospel hymn "I Will Arise," and "A Riverboat's Gone," her own composition.
"I was scared," April admitted. "Ken Irwin (Rounder co-founder) didn't know if I could sing, but he suggested I give it some thought and try. There was no pressure. If I wasn't satisfied, my singing would not go on the album"
Diversity and dexterity go hand in hand for April. Here appealing lead vocals complement the impressive fiddle-and-feet feats of this eagerly awaited follow-up to VERCHUOSITY, the aptly titled 2001 Rounder recording that earned nominations for Juno (Canadian equivalent of a Grammy), Association for Independent Music, and Prairie Music awards.
April plays the "Fraser Valley Reel," a tune she wrote in a Canadian old-time fiddling style, with a lively bowstroke that never mistakes speed for substance. The graceful melody she composed for her husband's grandparents, "Reg & Irma's Waltz," deftly slips into two quicker French-Canadian dance tunes, "Reel du Gadeliderot / Reel de St. Marc," to which she adds the rhythm of single-tap stepdancing shoes. And the five-tune "Ottawa Valley Medley" is an outright tribute to her upbringing in that region's thriving fiddle and stepdance traditions. "Those are my roots," april said, "and will always be close to my heart."
The Ottawa Valley style of fiddling is the culmination of a rich musical melting pot forged by German, Scottish, Irish, French-Canadian, Polish, and other settlers swapping tunes and techniques in the region's lumber camps. Simple trills, slides, and bowed slurs are common in Ottawa Valley fiddling, as are syncopation and an imaginative use of dynamics. Waltzes, jigs, reels, polkas, breakdowns, and clogs typify the repertoire, which is predominantly dance music, and it is believed that the Ottawa Valley style of stepdancing also sprang from the lumber camps, where the rhythm and percussion of feet usually accompanied the fiddling.
Born and raised near Pembroke, Ontario, in the Ottawa Valley, April started stepdancing at age three and fiddling at age six. "My dad, who sings and plays guitar and fiddle, taught me my first tune the day after I got my first fiddle," she recalled. Her development as both stepdancer and fiddler was swift and sure. April's sister, Tawnya, gave her early encouragement and pointers for stepdancing, while her fiddling was boistered by nine years of classical training and by techniques absorbed from other players in the Ottawa Valley.
By age 20, April had won over 400 awards for her twin talents, including the coveted titles of Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion in 1997 and Canadian Open fiddle Championship in 1998. She also released three solo albums: Springtime Fiddle in 1992, when she was just 14 years old, Fiddle Talk in 1995, and Fiddelicious in 1998.
Fiddle camps in Canada and the United States exposed April to a wide variety of playing styles and repertoires. this was especially true in 1995, 1996 and 1997 when she attended the famed fiddle camp run by Mark O'Connor in Nashville, to which she'd return as an instructor a few years later. At that fiddle camp April met Matt Glaser, chairman of the string department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was he who mentioned to her the possibility of coming to Berklee for further study. "I took classical and jazz there," April said of her one year at Berklee. "Matt wasn't going to try to shape me or clone me. He let me follow my own path, and I left to pursue career opportunities I though might not be there if I stayed on."
Those career opportunities have built up steadily for April, taking her on tours across Canada, the United States, England and Scotland - and even to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. A performance she recalls with special fondness occurred at the 1997 Chet Atkins' Musician Days in Nashville. Inside Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, April shared the stage with such guests as Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Suzy Bogguss, Steve Wariner, and Atkins himself.
It is no surprise why aficionados of bluegrass, old-timey, early country, and other American roots music are attracted to April's sound. She respects and relishes those genres and styles, and her enthusiasm for them is contagious here.
Just listen to April's singing and fiddling on "I'll Be All Smiles Tonight." It's a bittersweet song set to a waltz tempo expertly laid down by April, album producer and old-time master Bruce Molsky on guitar, Mark Simos on piano, Rick Haworth on dobro, Stuart Kenney on bass, and April's husband, Marc Bru, on harmonica with harmony vocals from Connie Kaldor and Michele Campagne.
"Dixie Hoedown" more than lives up to its title. In this American traditional dance tune, April wisely sublimates rather than imitates an old-time / bluegrass technique on fiddle to achieve a fresh, robust sound, supported by Bruce Molsky on clawhammer banjo, Mark Simos on guitar, Kenneth Saulnier on mandolin, and Stuart Kenney on bass.
In "A Riverboat's Gone / Bumblebee In A Jug," April offers a moving homage to John Hartford, the gifted singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist who died in 2001 at age 63. "I found John's music so late, just three or four years ago," April said, "and I felt gypped. I should have had his music much earlier on. He's a musical soulmate."
Perhaps the greatest distinction of April's performance on this new recording is her uncanny ability to tap into those other established sources of sound - Quebecois, Scottish, Breton, Irish, Latin, Appalachian, gospel - and make them seem new without compromising their integrity. "I didn't want the album to come off as just being eclectic," April said. "I like trying things I haven't tried before, but this is also what I love to play."
That passion for playing shines through on every track.
1. Fraser Valley Reel - I wrote this tune for "The Central Fraser Valley Fiddlers," a fiddle club in British Columbia. They are a group of wonderful and talented people who are dedicated to preserving the art of "Canadian Old Time" fiddle music. My congratulations and thanks to all such fiddle and folk music clubs for the invaluable role they play in the traditional music scene.
2. Reg & Irma's Waltz / Reel du Gadeliderot / Reel de St. Marc - The first tune in this set is dedicated by my "grandparents-in-law" Reg and Irma Duhaime from North Battleford, Saskatchewan. They are French Canadian and love to dance. Watching them waltz is a beautiful experience and I hope that this tune captures the essence of their grace. I learned the two reels in this set from a French Canadian group called "Domino."
3. Spanish for Crown - If you have any of my previous recordings you are already familiar with my friend Taylor Buckley. Taylor hails from Montana and is a multi-instrumentalist. We love to write fiddle tunes together and came up with this Latin-inspired piece last June during a late night jam session.
4. Light In The Window - I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it... which was at a listening post at the Elderly Instruments store in Michigan about five years ago. The CD being featured at this particular listening post was Bottle Neck Dreams by Salamander Crossing. It was the first time I'd heard their music and they've since become one of my favorite groups of musicians, collectively and individually. Thanks to Rani Arbo for the inspiration and encouragement. I hope you enjoy this version.
5. Bonnie Lass O' The Mornin' / Suite de Loudeac / Howling At The Moon / Sunset over Scariff - This set of tunes was inspired by the talented Scottish singer and folklorist, Bob Blaire. I met and heard Bob perform at a couple of different festivals over the last couple of summers and eventually we traded CDs. When I got home and listened to his recording, I was touched by his version of "Bonnie Lass o' the Mornin'." I decided to try and play it on my fiddle and then came across the three other tunes that round out this set. "Suite de Loudeac" is a traditional French piece and provides the perfect transition to Manus' Irish reels which I learned from his CD entitled Saffron & Blue.
6. Faniuck's Fancy - After composing and performing this tune for a while, Taylor and I received repeat comments that it had a Ukrainian flair about it. We titled it after a Ukrainian guitar player named Faniuck, whose uncle we met at a gas station on one of our tours... it's a long, "had to be there" story... so I'll just let you listen to the tune.
7. I'll Be All Smiles Tonight - One of my favorite bluegrass bands is the Cox Family. Although I had heard this song performed many times by different artists, it was after hearing their version that I decided to try it too.
8. Ottawa Valley Medley: Road to Fort Coulonge / The Welder's Jig / Morning Star / One For Dugald / Blue Pacific Hornpipe - The Ottawa Valley region in which I was born and raised has its own unique fiddle style. The Ottawa Valley style of fiddling and step dancing will always hold a special place in my heart, as will the fiddlers who began, upheld and expanded this tradition through the years. This medley pays tribute to those fiddlers, as well as to those who encouraged, supported and inspired me in my early days of fiddling. Thank you... I will never forget you.
9. August 19 - My husband Marc and I were married on August 19, 2000. I wrote this tune to serve as our "wedding march" and friends of ours performed it for us on our special day. When I wrote it, I heard it needing to be arranged for strings some day, but I never imagined that it could sound as beautiful as it does with Darol Arnger's string arrangement... thanks Darol.
10. Dixie Hoedown - I heard Roy Curry play this on the Winfield National Flatpicking Champions CD and had to try it on my fiddle. I think it's the first real bluegrass tune I've attempted, but am hoping it won't be the last.
11. Jean - The first time I heard this song on Terry Gonda's CD Mud and Milk, I sat in my living room crying. It reminded me of home, my grandparents and neighbors, and the stories I've heard them tell or that I know they've lived.
12. A Riverboat's Gone / Bumblebee in a Jug - John Harford's music touched me in a way that nothing else ever has and ever will again I'm sure. After he passed away I found it very difficult to listen to any of his CDs. After a few months however, I did, and I listened to everything I could get my hands on for a whole day. At the end of the day I had a tune running through my head that reminded me of him and of the water. I decided to call it "A Riverboat's Gone" in honor of not only his contributions to music, but his love of riverboats. The words came a day or two later. I followed it up with a tune I learned from John's recording The Speed of the Old Long Bow. There are no words that can express the way I feel about John and his music... instead, I give him this musical tribute.
13. I Will Arise - Our version of this spiritual gospel song was inspired by Kilby Snow's recording of it. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
14. Partie de Quadrille des Verret - These two tunes are from a set of five, which were written for a French Canadian dance called "le quadrille,". I learned them from a CD which featured traditional, unaccompanied Quebecois music simply called 'Quebec'.
The thank you section of a recording's liner notes are always the most difficult to write. How does one begin to put into words the gratitude due so many people? A career in music and the making of any recording depends on many talented and devoted people. I feel extremely blessed to have worked with, and to work with, an incredible team of individuals, and I express my most sincere gratitude to all of you for your selfless contributions to this project and to my career.
Special thanks to: Ken Irwin, John Virant and all the team at Rounder Records.
The musicians, production, engineering and mastering teams who shared their amazing talents and made this recording possible.
D'Addario Strings, AKG
Interspin Web Designs and Brian Waring, web master of http://www.aprilverch.com
Marc Bru, for managing my career, playing in my band, and being my husband. This is all as much yours as it is mine... you are incredible.
Mom, Dad, Tawnya and Kevin... I couldn't do any of this without you.
The composers of the tunes and songs on this recording... your creations are beautiful.
Every single fan... this music is yours.
Calvin Vollrath, fiddle & guitar; Erin Pasieka, bass; Mike Elliott, piano; Duane Pasieka, drums
Produced by Ken Huculak; Engineer, Joe Kozak; Recorded at Project 70, Edmonton Alberta 1981
Tracks: Nakamon Reel*; Archie Menzies; Festival Waltz; Two-Step Le D'Armand; Gramma's Waltz; Medley: Big John McNeil / St. Anne's Reel / Picnic Reel; Smash The Window; Tanya Dawn Waltz; Wabamun Breakdown*
Having introduced music to his son at a very young age, Art "Lefty" Vollrath discovered that his son Calvin exhibited an extra-ordinary talent that allowed him to take control and master the fiddle
This young and gifted performer began to captivate audiences to a highest degree with a style that was unique in both sound and character. The artistic ability of one Calvin Vollrath grew to the point of being recognized throughout our land. Intensive desire, hard work and practice led to the recording studio where along with accomplished studio musicians this unique sound characterized by special arrangements on traditional as well as original compositions was captivated. The ultimate result being the record album "Calvin Vollrath Old Time Fiddling". On behalf of Calvin Vollrath I wish you many hours of dancing and listening pleasure
13 Woodway Vineway, Willowdale, Ontario, Canada M2J 4H5
The Most Versatile Folk-Fiddler on the Continent
I have been in the entertainment field for 27 years, and having performed in Germany, France, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, and in the U.S.A. and Canada, I have heard many young fiddlers. Of all the younger players, Calvin Vollrath is one of the best.
I first met Calvin in Carrot River, Saskatchewan, in 1976, where I was performing as guest artist at their annual fiddle contest. Calvin was 16 at that time and in the past five years, he has made great strides in the field of old-time fiddling.
He was born in Edmonton on May 16, 1960 and was raised in the small village of Morinville, Alberta, where he began learning to play the fiddle at the age of 8. He learned from his father, who bears the nickname "Lefty", being on of the few old-time fiddlers who plays left-handed. Some of Calvin's achievements are as follows: placed first in Red Deer, Alta. in 1978 and 1979; Prince George, B.C. in 1979 and 1981; Vernon, B.C. in 1979, 1980 and 1981; Edmonton in 1980; and Carrot River, Sask. in 1980 and 1981, second at Wabamun, Alta., their first annual fiddle contest, which was a huge success.
One of Calvin's goals has been to record an album and this, being his first, he has included a good variety of tunes. We, as Canadians and Americans, must help keep old-time fiddling alive and support young artists like Calvin, so be sure to include this album in your record collection. I know you will enjoy it.
Signed by the Master of it all,
Master of Canadian, French Canadian, Irish, Scottish, Ukrainian, Jazz, Southern, Bluegrass, Cajun, Western Swing
Calvin Vollrath, fiddle & guitar; Trent Bruner, piano; Gord Fische, guitar; Derek Stremel, guitar
Produced by Calvin Vollrath
Tracks: Red River Trails**; Brother John Polka**; Greta's Rose*; River Point Reel**; Min Fogel's Reel**; Lefty's Hornpipe*; Hogs In The Tater Patch*; The North Saskatchewan River***; April's Waltz*; Canadian Veteran's Reel**; Waltz for Eva****; Polson Polka*
**J Arcand & C Vollrath
*** H. Chell & C Vollrath
**** S Sabir & C Vollrath
New & Used, VIK Holdings Ltd CV-289 - 1989
Calvin Vollrath, violin; Ralph Ament, Acoustic guitar; Richard Chernesky, electric guitar; Larry Guthrie, Keyboards; Les Vincent, bass
Produced by Calvin Vollrath; Engineer: Dean McElwain; Recorded at The Works, Edmonton, Alberta
Tracks: Fly In The Puddin’*; Emma Lake Polka**; Mom, This One’s For You*; Orange Blossom Special; Crazy; Calvin’s Culvert*; Step Dance Medley: Sligo Fancy Hornpipe - Plymouth Lassie - Londonderry Hornpipe; Flopareno; Lefty’s Centennial Waltz***; Heritage Mountain Hornpipe*; Medley: It’s a Sin To Tell A Lie - Whispering; North Street****
**with John Arcand; *** with Art Vollrath;
****with Joe Delorey
Hello fiddle fans!
This is my fourth recording, and by far the most special, as I am dedicating it to my Dad, Art “Lefty” Vollrath, who passed away December 12, 1988.
This album is called “New & Used” because of the variety of musical styles. Included are Western Swing, Country Ballads and Old Time selections.
This recording was a labour of love with some of my closest musical friends in Edmonton. Their musical imput was an inspiration in itself.
I’d like to thank my wife Ema and my three daughters, Tanya, Jessie and Jackie, for their love and understanding. A special thanks to Mary and Marvin Kassian for all of their support and last but not least, to all my fans who have attended my concerts and enjoyed my recordings in the past.
I hope this music brings you as much pleasure as I received while recording it.
Playing 20 Of My Favourites,
Calvin Vollrath - Canada's Champ Of The Fiddle,
Bonnie Pearl Records BPR 1030 - 1996
Calvin Vollrath, fiddle, guitar; Trent Bruner, piano; Derek Stremel, Ralph Ament, Gord Fisch, guitars; Tim Lent, drums
Tracks: Wild Alberta Rose**; Reg Bouvette
Memorial 2-Step***; Robbie Dagenais Reel*; Harvey & Joe*; Jaclyn's
Waltz*; Fly In The Buddin'*; Fred Russell's Jig*; Frantic Frenchmen*; Lefty's
Hornpipe*; Jessica*; Delorey's*; Walkin The Dog*; Kirkness Jig*; Red River
Trails***; Joclyn's Waltz*; Just New*; Jimmy Walker 2-Step***; Greta's
Rose*; Too Close For Comfort****; Swirvin Irvin*****
Calvin's musical talents were recognized at a very early age. Already at the age of 13 he won CFCW's Golden Fiddle Contest. This was just the beginning of may things to come, all the way up to earning the North American Fiddle Championship title in 1985. Not only is Calvin a master of his instrument, he is one of the most versatile musicians that I have ever met and worked with. His stylings cover country, old time, swing and jazz, which not many artists can claim. To top things off, he is also an accomplished composer and arranger. Calvin now teaches his craft and is sought after as a much desired judge for fiddle contests today.
To date, Calvin has written 55 fiddle tunes. His recording career began in 1982 with his release of The Reel Thing. To date, he has recorded 15 albums. Calvin is one of the most well known back up fiddle players on the road and in the studio today. He has backed such artists as Freddy Fender, Ferlin Husky, bobby Bare, George Fox, Ian Tyson, Colleen Petersen, Danny Hooper, Joel Feeney and yours truly. He has toured across Canada and the US and now has made impact in Europe as musical director of the international touring band known as Wild Rose Country.
This release features some of Calvin's favourite compositions. It has always been a great honour to work with this award champion of the fiddle.
Keep up the great work Calvin - you are No. 1 in my book.
Hank Smith, K.H., C.M.
International Touring Artist
(Some of Calvin's Accomplishments listed on the cover)
1989 - Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame
1991 - Country Music Hall of Fame, Alberta
1994 - Canadian Coiuntry Music Hall of Honour
1995 - Member of the Order Of Canada
**with Andy Greatrix
*** w/ John Arcand
****w/ Richard Wood
***** w/ Derek Stremel
Calvin Vollrath, fiddles, slap/open and lead acoustic guitars, bass guitar, clogging, knee slaps, Chich Shakers, box of salt, and container of bacon bits; Trent Bruner, Piano; Richard Chernesky, lead electric guitar; John Lacey, Steel Guitar; Alphonse Delorey, spoons, Chick Shaker
Recorded at Dining Room Studio, Edmonton, Alberta
Tracks: Andy’s Hornpipe*; Jiggin’ At The
Okay Corral*; Yvette Carriere Waltz*; Cape Emma; Dancin’ In Cabin 9*; Cats
and the Fiddle*; Festival Place Breakdown*; Wild Rose of The Mountain;
O Canada; Little John McNeil*; Down at the Blue Fiddle Tent*; Bruce Wilson’s
Waltz*; Kississing Lake*; Midonna; Lieutenant Governor’s Waltz*; Lesw Tourbillons*;
Gloria’s Waltz*; Aurora Reel
What can one say about Calvin Vollrath that hasn’t already been said repeatedly? For over two decades this magical musician who communicates with audiences of all ages via the fiddle, has put a spell on just about everyone who has taken time to listen to the man’s music. Whether it’s live performances that have taken Vollrath all around the world, as either a solo performer or working with nationally and internationally renowned acts, it seems that once he takes over a microphone the audience is his and the show belongs to him. He’s been called a national treasure by his fans, critics and his musical peers. From fiddle camps in the outbacks of North American the campuses of higher learning, or to the world’s finest concert halls or the confines of a smoky night club, Calvin’s mind boggling abilities on his chosen instrument stop listeners in their collective tracks. Equally at home playing a variety of traditional sounds, from east coast Don Messer influenced material, Metis fiddle tunes, or shooting out sparks on swing tunes that tip the hat to both the western variety or the sweet sounds of the legendary Stephane Grapelli, there’s an undeniable joy that leaps from Calvin’ fiddle from the moment he picks up the instrument and bow. Right now you are holding one of his three new releases that have been simultaneously released, Thanks to Emma, Jiggin’ At The Okay Corral, or Country Fiddle. It matters not one will probably lead you to seek out the others. What this observer and listener is sure of, is that the inspiring music of Calvin Vollrath will make your day just a little bit better, as the infectious joy he brings to his craft and art continues to reach out and positively affect those who come in contact with it.
(Freelance Roots Music Writer, Southam News)