Al Cherny

Alexander Peter Chernywech
b. November 1, 1932
d. August 23, 1989

Old Time Fiddle Champion, Arc AS-520, circa 1965

Al Cherny, fiddle; Mike Crosty, drums; Bill Gibbs, bass; Hap Swatridge, piano; Maurice Bolyer, banjo & guitar

Tracks: Haste To The Wedding; Vic’s Jig; Blue Mountain Rag; Billy Wilson’s Clog; Le Reel De Grandpere; Adios Polka; Shannon Waltz; Flop Eared Mule; San Fernando Square; Golden Prairie Schottische; Black Velvet Band; My Little Old Home in West Virginia
 

On August 5th, 1960, Al Cherny of Wingham, Ontario, stepped on the stage of the Annual Old Time Fiddle Contest in Shelburne, Ontario and played a waltz, jig and a reel. Twenty-four hours and 114 contestants later, Al Cherny was declared the North American Open Champion and also won the Novelty class Championship. Al also won the novelty class the previous year and was runner up 6 years in a row - 1960 was Al’s big year, two championships at a time - and the first time a Canadian old time fiddler ever to win both.

Arc Records are proud to present Al Cherny in a show case of old time fiddle tunes by the World’s best Old Time Fiddler.

In Order to give Al the best professional accompaniment on his first long play album, Arc records obtained the following specialists for the recording session (above).


Al Cherny Plays Old Tyme Fiddle, RCA Camden, CAL/S-887

Producer: Wilf Gillmeister; Engineer: Peter Houston

Tracks: Fiddlestick Hoedown; Erin Go Bragh*; Paris Waltz; Bonnie Belle Schottische*; Barndance Breakdown*; Old Tyme Fiddle; Birdie In The Cage*; Rabbit in the Railpile*; Hummingbird Waltz**; Le Reel de Grand’mère* ** with Reg Bitton
 

I first met Al Cherny in 1955, in Wingham, Ontario, while making a guest appearance on CKNX’s popular Barn Dance Show. We became close friends, and later, in 1961, we became working buddies on a CBC television show called “Country Hoedown”. From the start I recognized Al as someone who wasn’t merely content to play his best. he must always strive to improve. This sort of determination won him the 1959 Novelty Class prize at Shelburne, Ontario, home of North America’s top fiddling contest, and further showed itself evident in 1960 and 1961 when he re-entered and - for those consecutive years - won both the novelty and old time (Open - ed.) classes. He was the only Canadian in the fourteen-year history of the contest to achieve this distinction. Medicine Hat’s Frank Novak, who taught Al as a boy, can boast an all-time pupil.

Since he joined “Country Hoedown”, Al has become one of the most popular artists in the show. From coast to coast of Canada - wherever he goes - whether it’s entertaining troops stationed in France, England, Germany or the United Arab Republic - his sparkling fiddle and his warm down-to-earth personality bring storms of applause and many return invitations.

One of his appearances took Al to Montreal, Quebec, where he was asked to perform for Prince Philip and the Commonwealth Conference. He found that his cowboy accompaniment turned out to be the Montreal Symphony Orchestra! What did he do? Well, let’s just say he led them a merry dance.

Since last year when he joined the CBC “Tommy Hunter Show”, just about every fan letter asks for an Al Cherny fiddle tune. I should know. I read all the mail personally. In this album Al has tried to include the tunes that you have asked for most frequently. I congratulate your choice.

Kindest Regards, Tommy Hunter


Blue Ribbon Fiddle, RCA Camden CAL/S-989

Producer: Art Snider; Engineer: Peter Houston

Tracks: Maple Sugar; Calgary Waltz; Bonnie Prince Charlie; Jolly Fiddler’s Two-Step*; Kansas City Railroad blues; Smash The Window; Golden Wedding Waltz*; Boil Them Cabbage Down; Wake Up Susan; Heel and Toe Polka
 

Al Cherny and his fiddle have been partners for a long time. Al started playing a very young age and has been going strong ever since. No wonder he sounds so great, and no wonder he’s been heard in so many places, all the way from France to the United Arab Republic. In country music, Al Cherny has found the outlet for his exuberant talent. His jolly, spirited technique keeps your own feet tapping as you listen, makes you feel like getting up and taking a turn with your partner. It’s hard not to dance when you listen to this gay, lively music, as much fun as an old-time country Hoedown. Once you’ve listened to the collection of fine tunes on this recording, you will know why they say Al Cherny’s playing is really blue ribbon every time!

Note: Al Cherny appears weekly on the Tommy Hunter Show, CBC-TV network


On Stage With Al Cherny, RCA Camden CAL/S-2167

Produced by Bert Niosi; Engineer: Peter Houston

Tracks: Trambulianka; Bandura; Verxovena / Korobushka; Jimminy Cricket Polka; Swinging Sweethearts; Joys of Quebec; Pointe-au-pic Reel; Knights of the round Table; Laventine's Barrel; Orange Blossom Special
 

The Ukraine. Birthplace of my parents. Home to my relations: uncles, aunts, and grandmother (Babushka). This is my heritage. I learned to play Ukraininan tunes as a child in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Weddings and dances were to social life for a Ukrainian; tunes and the instrumentals made up an important part of any function. Listening to them, I am sure you will all feel the sense of excitement and activity that is so characteristic of a Ukrainian function. I hope you will enjoy some of the traditional French-Canadian numbers which I have included. As you are aware, I have been a 'regular' on the CBC Tommy Hunter Show. Many of the selections on this album have been played at one time or another on the show and I hope some of your favorites are here.

Al Cherny


Golden Slippers, RCA Camden CAL/S-2274

Produced by Bert Niosi; Engineer: George Semkiw

Tracks: Golden Slippers, Old Box Stove; the road To The Isles; Snowdeer; Black Mountain Rag; Heather’s Reel; Medicine Hat; Anniversary Song; Bublitchki; Medley: Arkan - Hopak - Kolomeyka


Hits of Al Cherny, RCA KEL-1-8100

(Part of a series called “Join the Country Club” greatest hits albums)
Producers: Gary Buck, Jim Pirie & Jack Feeney

Tracks: Blue Sky Riding song; Ranger’s Waltz; Black Velvet Band; Four String Polka; Louisianna man; Spanish Two-Step; Snowflake Breakdown; Ridin’ The Fiddle; Lying Eyes; Road To Boston; Country Roads; Crooked Stove Pipe; Poor Girl Waltz; Butterfly


Al Cherny's Fiddle Party, Silver Eagle Records SE-10602, 1988

Tracks: Fiddlin' Favorites: Alabama Jubilee/ Down Yonder/ Turkey In The Straw; Old Joe Clark/ golden Slippers/ Boil Them Cabbage Down; Rubber Dolly/ Maple Sugar; Spanish Two Step/ Little Home in West Virginia; Orange Blossom Special; Bob Wills Medley: Maiden's Prayer/ Faded Love/ San Antonio Rose; Old Time Waltzes: Golden Wedding Waltz/ Blue Skirt Waltz; Life In/ Westphalia Waltz; Hank Williams Medley: Cold, Cold Heart/ Your Cheatin' Heart; Pop Standards: Last Date/ Sleep Walk; Swingin' Style: Perdido/ In the Mood; Classic Waltzes: Tennessee Waltz/ Fascination/ Anniversary Waltz; Melody of Love; Anniversary Song; Specialty Dances: French Minuet; Al's Seven Step; Happy Hours Schottische; Waltzes: Shannon Waltz/ Let Me Call You Sweetheart; Scottish Medley: Road To The Isles/ Scotland the Brave; Irish Medley: Irish Washerwoman/ McNamara's band; Polkas: Beer Barrel Polka/ Wedding Polka/ Heel and Toe Polka/ Clarinet Polka/ Butterfly/ Bird Dance; Chachas: Cheery Pink and Apple Blossom White/ Yellow Bird/ Never on Sunday; Tangos: Dark Eyes/ Spanish Eyes; Beguine: Autumn Leaves


The Lost Recordings - Live, Rodeo International / The Barn Dance Historical Society - RLPCD 8050, circa 2000

Produced by Lynn Russwurm and Grant Heywood; Restored and Engineered by Mike Striver at Freightyard Studios

Tracks: Listen To The Mockingbird; Wednesday Night Waltz; The Gal I Left Behind Me; Big John MacNeill; Lone Star Rag; Life in The Finland Woods; Whistling Rufus; Panhandle Rag; Mitton's Breakdown; Under Paris Skies; Chinese Breakdown; Black Velvet Waltz; Vic's Jig; Rhapsody in Blue; Orange Blossom Special; Blue Skirt Waltz; Road To Boston; Ocha Chornya; Blue Mountain Rag; Shannon Waltz / Irish Washerwoman / Bluewater Hornpipe; Prairie Schottische; Growling Old Man & The Grumbling Old Woman; Spanish Two Step; Bile 'Em Cabbage Down; Ridin' The Fiddle; Black Mountain Rag; Arkansas Traveller

Al Cherny "Live"! Yes, it's true, here it is some thirteen years since one of Canada's greatest fiddlers was cut down in his prime by the dreaded cancer. Al was always a very energetic person, a going concern who seemed to find it hard to sit still. Very highly professional at his chosen career, he could make a fiddle sing like few before him or after him. You'd never hear that Al Cherny would miss a date, or that he didn't conduct himself professionally at all times. But for all his seriousness, Al enjoyed life to the fullest and was himself a bit of a practical joker.

A Canadian Westerner from Medicine Hat, Al's first professional touring groups were The Sons Of The Saddle, also The Stoltz Brothers. In fact, Al recorded The Orange Blossom Special with The Sons on a 78. Then Al got a call from Earl Heywood that a fiddler was needed for the small musical empire that revolved around CKNX in Wingham, Ont. Al caught the first train out and from that time on there was no looking back. He played in the Barn Dance Gang, under Earl Heywood, then with Slim Boucher's legendary Golden Prairie Cowboys and numerous TV and radio shows like The CKNX Barn Dance, on TV's Western Roundup, etc. He took part in the Shelburne fiddle contests and came out the winner numerous times. Then came the CBC shows out of Toronto. Meanwhile the recording had started, and after a single or two on Quality, he did his first album for Arc. RCA eventually snapped Al up for a number of albums on the Camden label. Tommy Hunter signed Al up for his TV show, and Al stayed as a regular for almost 30 years, until his untimely death.

Now about this album: up to this time Al had never done a live album. We were fortunate to discover a treasure trove of live Al Cherny cuts from various CKNX TV shows, that someone at the station had taped directly from the board and so we had recording quality tapes of the great Al Cherny in the early days of his career. What a treat it is to hear the musicians whoop it up along with Al on some of these great fiddle standards, there's certainly no lack of exuberance and spontaneity in these cuts, listen to this version of the Orange Blossom Special and you'll know what I mean. These shows were live on the air, not pre-taped like they do today, the enjoyment of the music came through loud and clear. Announcing the shows are some of the greats from CKNX like Jack Kingston, Johnny Brent, Earl Heywood or even Al himself. And through the miracle of modern recording we would like to share these great sounds with you.

Thanks to Marion Cherny for her generous co-operation on this project.

Lynn Russwurm



Best Of The Country Fiddlers, RCA Camden CL 50027
See Compilations


The Great Country Fiddlers, RCA KDML-7179-1-2 - 1991
See Compilations

Also included on
'It's A Saturday Night Barn Dance' compilation, Rodeo Records RLPCD 8045, circa 1996
track 26: Black Velvet Waltz
 
written by Barn Dance favorite Ross Mann, this is one of several Mann compositions that Al recorded.
Included on:
It's The Saturday Night Barn Dance Vol 2, Rodeo International RLPCD 8047,  1998
track 22: Flop Eared Mule
 
One of the most visible Canadian fiddle players, Al held down the fiddle chores on the Tommy Hunter TV Show on CBC throughout most of its run.
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