Old Tyme Fiddling, demo tape
Tracks: Nobody's Business; Debby's Waltz;
Paul's Jig; Derby Street Reel; Birch Hill Waltz; Home In Nova Scotia; Jennifer's
Waltz; Road To Boston; Bedford Waltz, Kiley's Ceilidh; Andy's Schottische;
Lone Star Rag; Toronto Waltz; Little Red Barn
…un p’tit air de famille, no label or serial, 1997
Liette Remon, violon; François Morrisette, bouzouki, guitar; Gilles Pitre, gigue, caisse claire; André Marchand, pieds; Lina Remon, voix
Direction musicale et réalization: Lina Remon; Prise de son: André Marchand; Mixage: André Marchand assisté de Lina et Liette; Enregistré au Studio du chemin no. 4, juin 1997; Concepion, textes, réalisation du livret: Lina Remon; Production: Liette Remon
Tracks: Reel à Aimée; Parties
de set à Aimée; Turlute à Memère Bernatchez;
Réginald à Mariange à Jos; La ratatouille; Aimée
et Bruno; Les marées; Le bonhomme et la bonne femme à Margot;
Danse ma soeur; Turlute en toune; Gigue à Jos; 6/8 du Cinquantième;
Gigue des 14; Mazurka; Medley à Pepère Bernatchez; Chambre
417; La ‘tite turlute; La Grondeuse des 28
Ils avaient les airs, ils avaient la parole…
“Du côté à mon père, les Bernatchez, y en avait un lot qui jouaient du violon, les ancêtres, là … du côté à ma mère aussi, des Mercier, eux autres y dansaient … J’te dis qu’c’était désennuyant…”
Reel à Aimée – Tante Aimée, tant aimée… Ma tante Aimée ne nous a joué que quelques ‘morceaux’, mais quels morceaux!
Parties de set à Aimée – Deux 6/8 qui nous viennent d’Aimée … Dans la famille, tous les 6/8 sont appelés des ‘parties de set’.
Turlute à Memère Bernatchez – Cette pièce est appelée Turlute parce qu’apprise de ma grand mère qui me l’a turlutée… ‘Pauvre memère … Elle aimait assez ça la musique, c’était sa vie à elle…’ Eddy
Réginald à Mariange à Jos – ‘Quand on entendait un morceau au radio, on se dépêchait, Moman apprenait une partie pis moi partie…’ Reginald
La Ratatouille – Ça c’est un air que Pepère Leblanc, le père de notre mère, jouait. Mais de ce côté-là de la famille, c’est une autre.
Aimée et Bruno – La première pièce, une partie de set, nous vient d’Aimée et la deuxième de Bruno Dubé, un violoneux des ‘14’ (un rang de Grande-Rivière) qui semble avoir appris avec Pepère et Memère Bernatchez!
‘… À tous les après-midis, il (Bruno) montait chez-nous, il disait à maman: Madame Bernatchez, jouez-moi donc un morceau de violon, sur un côté seulement … je pourrais l’apprendre… C’est elle, maman, qui lui a montré à jouer du violon…” Memère Remon
Le bonhomme et la bonne femme à Margot – Ma tante Margot, qu’on a pas connue, avait un jeu de violon très sec et précis avec une couleur personnelle pour le moins remarquable Dédié à Denise et Madeleine, ses filles, nos cousines.
Danse ma soeur – ‘…Il y avait des soirées là, su Pepère Bernatchez, quand j’étais jene, des samedis soirs, des dimanches après-midi, t’avais pu de place, le monde était assis dans l’escalier, assis partout. Pis du fun!! Tout chacun faisait sa part, c’était la danse, la gigue, joue le violon, chante, fais ce que tu voudras, c’était la maison de plasir!…’ Eddy
Turlute en toune – ‘C’était du monde de par icitte, ben … y partaient dans les Amériques pis ils apprenaient ça là. Pis quand y revenaient, on les apprenait …’ Memère Remon
Gigue à Jos – ‘Pepère Bernatchez sautait sur le plancher … lui aussi, c’était un danseur de gigues…’ Eddy
6/8 du Cinquantième – Mon oncle Eddy m’avait joué ça, il y a une douzaine d’années, et un 1996, lors de son cinquantième anniversaire de mariage, nous le lui avons joué, ma soeur et moi… Ce fut un très beau moment…
Gigue des 14 – ‘Pepère Bernatchez jouait du violon pis Memère giguait … Elle giguait ben, c’était comme un oiseau sur le plancher…’ Eddy
‘Maman, c’était la meilleure danseuse de gigue qu’il y avait dans le comté. Elle dansait ben … La dernière fois qu’elle a dansé, elle avait 82 ans!’ Memère Remon
La mazurka à Aimée
Medley à Pepère
Chambre 417 – Quand Memère Remon m’a reelé ça, elle avait 86 ans (en 1986) et était un peu au ralenti, vous comprendrez bien. C’était un air que sa mère, Célina, jouait. Nous avons gardé le ‘ralenti’ en sa mèmoire. Mais il faut dire que c’était un reel pour danser à l’origine.
La ‘tite turlute – ‘C’est votre mère qui vous a montré à reeler? – Ben non! C’est dans nous autres, ça …! …Si j’avais été plus jeune, j’aurais pu vous en reeler toute la nuit(te)…’ Memère Remon
La Grondeuse des 28 – ‘Quand papa jouait du violon, maman s’assoyait aura, pis a reelait, la même chose que lui…’ Memère Remon
‘…C’était un gros vieux, “Pepère Bernatchez) il accotait son violon icite, y reelait sa reel en même temps qu’y jouait … Si on passait en arrière de lui, n l’entendait reeler en jouant du violon!’ Eddy
‘A Family repertoire is precious, for it is not only tunes we listen to, but cherished memories we harbour… And a family where music is a part of dayly (sic) life, is like an invitation to share a goo meal and friendship…’
Un p’tit air de famille avec un p’tit air de vent de la mer, un peu salé, un peu brumeux … Et le bruit des vagues, toujours, comme une belle turlute qui ne finit jamais… Ces gens-là étaient en Gaspésie, à Grande-Rivière. Les Remon étaient sur le bord de la mer (Petit Pabos) et les Bernatchez étaient dans un rang qu’on appelle ‘les 28’ parce qu’ils étaient à 28 arpents de la mer…
Les airs joués ici n’avaient pas d titres dans la famille et nous avons eu un plaisir fou à leur en donner. Ils font évidemment référence à des gens ou à des événements reliés à la famille…
Un gros merci à Marc St-Jacques pour la prise de son et sa générosité lors de la pré-production, à Tess Leblanc pour la traduction, , un merci spécial à Stéfane Picher, entre autres pour la morue sec, à Michel Massicotte (qui a enfin découvert la musique traditionnelle!) pour la photo de Liette et à Jean B. Genest (le parrain…) pout la photo de la mer e celle de Aimée, grand merci à Josée et André pour leur chaleureux accueil…
Un sincère merci du fond du coeur à André Marchand pour son professionnalisme … et ses subtils encouragements…
Un merci particulier à Eddy eet Aimée… Finalement, merci à toute la famille qui nous a fait découvrir l’esprit magique et la grandeur de cette musique…
‘Un repertoire de famille c’est précieux, ce n’est pas seulement des airs qu’on écoute, c’est aussi des souvenirs qui nous habitent… Et une famille où la musique est présente quotidiennement, c’est une invitation au partage comme une riche tablée au coeur de l’hiver…”
Joseph Bernatchez, né en 1873 (mort en 1945) a, un jour, épousé Célina Moreau. Ce sont eux qu’on appelle ici Pepère et Memère Bernatchez. En fait, ce sont nos arrières-grands-parents. Ceux ui nous ont parlé d’eux ont été leur fille, Mariange qu’on appelle Memère Remon, notre grand-mère, puis Eddy le fils de Mariange, notre oncle Eddy, le frère de notre père, Réginald.
Beaucoup de ces mélodies viennent de Pepère Bernatchez. Les autres airs vienent d’un peu partout mais nous avons essayé de garder ici l’esprit musical qui animait cette famille, notre famille. Ces airs nous ont été transmis par Aimée, la soeur ainée de notre père, Eddy, son frère, Margot, une autre de ses soeurs, Bruno Dubé, un ami de la famille et finalement, et surtout, par Réginald, notre père qui, sans aucun doute, a été celui qui nous a le mieux transmis cet amour de la musique.
Renfrew County Fiddlers: Command Performance, Icicle ICL 5013 - circa mid 1980s
Brian Hebert, Dean Lapierre, Delmer McCallum, Bob Ranger, fiddles; Al Brisco, Pedal Steel; Alain Brisson, acoustic guitar; Conrad Brown, drums; Jim Mayhew, piano; Blain McEwen, bass; Earl Stencill, acoustic guitar; Buster Brown, Step Dance Rhythms
Producer: Brian Hebert; Engineer: David Dennison
Tracks: Pembroke Reel; Nellie’s Jig*; Road To Fort Colounge***; Fiddler’s Valley Reel**; Hangman’s Waltz***; Step Dance Medley; Sunset On The Ottawa**; Carlton County Hornpipe; Shady Nook Jig**; Grizzly Bear; Pembroke Waltz**; Buck Fever Rag***
* by Jimmy Mayhew; ** by Brian Hebert;
*** by Reg Hill
For the last six years the Renfrew County Fiddler’s Association has reached out to the growing legions of fiddle fans throughout the Ottawa Valley by giving command performances at every form of public function imaginable. The association’s aim, of course, is to foster and promote the most colourful art of our heritage, namely, old tyme fiddle playing.
So, due to a vast amount of encouragement and prompting, we have driven the Fiddle Van (loaded with four of our fiddlers and some of our finest Ottawa Valley Musicians) to the studio to put down on record a variety of our favourite standard and original tunes.
Sit back and enjoy, and remember there are two types of people living in the valley; those who love to play and those who love to listen. Whether you are one or the other, the Renfrew County Fiddlers are playing their hearts out for you.
Sincerely, Sheldon Church
President: Renfrew County Fiddler’s Association
Ti-Jean... Le Violoneux, London Série Française MB 4
Ti-blanc Richard, violon; Herbert Ruff, piano; Tony Romandini, guitare; Aldor Morin, calleux
Tracks: Reel des p’tites Mères; Reel
Kébec; La Grondeuse; Jigue À Ti-Jean; Reel du diable; Reel
de l’enfant; Reel de Rimouski; Comptez Pas Les Tours; Secret Des Fées;
Violon magique; Paul Jones Queue d’beau; Cornemuse à la Carignan;
Reel du pendu
Ti-blanc Richard, violon et calleux
Tracks: Le Reel du pendu; La Valse des yeux bleus; La Polka des Gais Lurons; La Tarantelle Sicilienne; Raggin’ The Fiddle; Le Reel du Sucre d’érable; La Valse des prairies; Paul Jones; Le Reel du chemin de fer; Le Rêve du diable
Ti-Blanc Richard, violon
Tracks: Le reel de Ste-Anne; La Valse du Reve Blue; Le reel des Pays d'en haut; Silver Bell; Le Reel de la disputeuse; The Money Musk; Polka en la-mineur; Le reel D'Apollo; La Valse des roses; La gigue du Brandy
Tracks: Le Reel des majorettes*; Le Reel des comcombres; La Grondeuse*; Valse Prisonniere*; Le Reel des pays d'en haut*; The Money Musk; La Polka de la Machine a Coudre; Le Reel du Festival*; Le Reel du 351ieme Anniversaire*; La Valse Roger*
Le Reel des majorettes: Une anecdote est à l'origine de cette piéce, Ti-Blanc Richard l'a composée en l'honneur d'un de ses musiciens épris d'une majorette de Windsor Mills.
Le Reel des comcombres: C'est le traditionel "the dill pickle rag".
La Grondeuse: Pièce joué sur un stroviol. C'est un instrument trés rare consistant en un cornet spécial monté sur un violon. Cette mélodie est interprétée par Ti-Blanc dans la super production de Denis Héroux, "Quelques arpents de neige".
Le Reel Des Pays D'en Haut: Cet air a servi de thème à l'émission "Bon Weekend" une série hebdomadaire à Télé-Métropole durant près de 2 ans.
The Money Musk: Dès l'age de 10 ans Ti-Blanc jouait déjà sur son violon cette pièce traditionnelle très ancienne.
Le Reel du Festival: Air composé par Ti-Blanc à l'occasion du départ de la mode des festivals western.
Le Reel du 351ieme Anniversaire: Composée pour son 351ième anniversaire de vie artistique
Ti-Blanc Richard Et Ses Joyeux Copains, RCA Victor Gala Series CGP-104
Tracks: La joie du soldat; Reel d’Alexis; Valse des Joyeux Copains; Reel du Snack Bar; Reel Swing la Baquaisse; Reel du faubourg à m’lasse; Reel de la fête des Mères; Vales Elizabeth; Pot-pourri de reels; Reel de la blanchisseuse; Valse des hirondelles; Reel des Cantons de l’Est
Tracks: Reel de la maison blanche; Valse
De l’arc-en-ciel; Reel du bonhomme-sept-heures; Reel des coucoupes volantes;
Valse des hirondelles; Reel du bec fin; Reel du moulin à vent; Valse
des fleurs; Reel de la Georgie; Reel des trois sapins
Ti-blanc Richard, violon; Johnny Jeffries, basse; Alain Bolduc, batterie; Jacques Bolduc, guitare; Simon Blanchette, piano
Production: Loubico Inc.; Réalisation: Jean Collard; Enregistrement: Studio J.D.
Les tunes: Duster Miller; La Contre Danse;
Le 35e Anniversaire*; Big John McNeil; Le Breakdown de la Victoire; La
petite Marie*; Le bonhomme et la bonne femme; Le Money Musk; Le Reel du
pêcheur (fisher Hornpipe); La Disputeuse; Anne-Marie; Le Reel de
Ti-Gars*; Mason’s Apron; La Chaudière; Le Breakdown de la vallée;
Le reel à Max; Le reel du métro; Des pays d’en haut; Les
Cinq Jumelles; Reel en la mineur; Cotton Eyed Joe
Lorsqu’en mars 1973, pour marquer la 500ème émission de ‘Soirée Canadienne’ , Louis Bilodeau animait le premier concours folklorique d’envergure provinciale qu’on intitula alors ‘Fête Populaire de Soirée Canadienne’, qui aurait pu prédire que ce concours, qui n’a cessé de grandir depuis, allait influencer de si magistrale façon notre folklore?
Qui aurait pu prévoir que la gigue, a plus spectaculaire de nos disciplines folkloriques, allait connâitre cette nouvelle vigueur particulièrement à cause de la participation d’un nombre incalculable de jeunes, ceux-là qui sont tout désignés pour en assurer la continuité.
Ce microsillon, un document précieux composé de 21 de nos plus beaux airs folkloriques interprétés par un des grands folkoristes du Québec, Ti-blanc Richard, a pour but de servir à nos gigueurs, ou à ceux qaui veulent le devenir, comme accompangnement pour pratiquer et interpréter, sur un rythme moyen ou plus rapide, leur danse. C’est ainsi que, de concert avec le violoneux traditionnel, ils serviront d’instrument indispensable pour perpétuer la joie de vivre si profondément enracinée dans notre culture québécoise.
Je profite de cette occasion pour rendre un hommage à ce grand folkloriste qu’est Ti-Blanc Richard pour la merveilleuse contribution qu’il apporte à notre folklore québécois. Je connais Ti-Blanc Richard l’artiste violoneux, je connais l’homme généreux qu’il est. Mes amitiés les plus sincère à mes bons amis, ses musiciens: Simon, Ailain, Jacques et Johnnyh.
Si ce disque vous permet de passer de nombreux moments agréables et qu’il devient un instrument utile à tous nos gigueurs en contribuant à l’épanoujissement de cette discipline spectaculaire de notre folklore québécois qu’est la GIGUE, il aura atteint son but.
L’enregistrement de ce disque nous a été rendu possible grâce à la collaboration de CHLT-TÉLÉ 7 Sherbrooke.
N.B. Vignt et un (21) reels de une minute trente (1.30m) et plus avec introduction et finale à chaque pièce.
Album souvenir, Mérite ME-1202
Tracks: Le Reel de Ti-Blanc*; Bowing The Strings; Potpourri de reels; Le Reel des majorettes; Le Reel de Mexico; Le Reel du Sucre d’érable; Le Reel du mambo; Le Reel des quatre coins de St-Malo; Le Money Musk; Le Reel du palmares
Tracks: Le reel du pecheur; Thème a la canadienne; Le Reel Anne-Marie; Le Reel Swing la baquaise*; Le reel des pays d’en haut*; Le Reel des majorettes*; Le Reel de Sherbrooke*; La Valse des roses blanches*; La Polka des mineurs*; Le Reel Ste-Anne; La Polka de la ronde*; La Polka des Dames*; La Valse des lilas; La Valse de Michelle*; La Valse Shannon
'It's A Saturday Night Dance' compilation, Rodeo Records RLPCD 8045, circa 1996
Kiley's Reel (originally from Ryoce Riehl & The Country Cousins)
Carnival avec Therese Rioux:Catalogne CAT-16016, circa 1975
Therese Rioux, violon; autres musiciens?
Production: Ferdinand Soucy & F Plouffe
Tunes: La chanson du Carnival; Le Reel du
President; La valse des duchesses; Le reel du couronnement; Le reel du
Bonhomme Carnival; Valse de la reine; Le reel des tricottons; La valse
vague bleue; Le reel des Sciotteux; Valse "Un coin du ciel"; Le reel des
fermieres; Le reel du Carnival
2000 Miles:Risk-o401 - 2004
Laura Risk, fiddle; Eric Beaudry, guitar, vocal; Rachel Aucoin, piano; Michel Donato, bass; Eric Breton, percussion
Produced by Laura Risk; Engineered by André Marchand & Marc Busic; Mixing and mastering by André Marchand, Marc Busic & Laura Risk; Recorded October, 2003 at Studio du Chemin No. 4, Notre-Dame des Prairies, Quebec
Tracks: North Highland Reel #18 / North Highland Reel #21 / The Nine Pint Coggle / Sandy King; Fairly Shot of Her / The Lost Hat* / Fairly Shot of Her / Snug in a Blanket; Smairg a chiurradh spiociare (The Miser) / Miss Gordon of Glastirum's Reel; Mr Abel Banks; The Bonnie House of Airly**; Dubh an Tomaidh (The Dark Night of Tomie); Tha buaidh air an uisge-bheath (The Efficacy of Whisky); Master Francis Sitwell / Lady Ann Wharton Duff's Strathspey / The Big Meeting*; Skye Air / Another St. Kilda Song and Dance / Am Botal dubh s an t-slige chreachann (The Dram Shell); Mo Chuachag Laghach (My Kindly Sweetheart) / The Glen Where the Deer Is / Feadan Glan a'Phiobair (The Pipe Slang); Duncan Lamont; Tha Tairm ann sa Ghleann (The Sound of War From the Glen); Mr Martin's Compliments to Dr. Keith MacDonald / Mrs Gordon of Knockespoch; Tha m'aigne fo ghruaim (This Gloom on my Soul)
** B Part - Laura Risk
1. North Highland Reel #18 / North Highland Reel #21 / The Nine Pint Coggle / Sandy King - Both North Highland reels come from Patrick MacDonald's fascinating Collection of Highland Vocal Airs (1784). The Nine Pint Coggie appeared first in William Christie's collection of 1820 and again nearly a hundred years later in J. Scott Skinner's The Scottish Violinist : coggie is a wooden dish. I took a few liberties with Sandy King and transformed it from a strathspey into a reel; the original version can be found in Keith Norman MacDonald's Skye Collection (1887).
2. Fairly Shot of Her / The Lost Hat* / Fairly Shot of Her / Snug in a Blanket - Fairly Shot of Her was already considered "old" in 1788, when Niel Gow published it in his second collection. "Shot" means "rid," as in "to get rid of." The lyrics given in Johnson's Musical Museum tell a husband's tale of love gone very wrong. "For a month after (our wedding) a' thing ay gaed right we' her, but these ten years I hae pray'd for a wright to her, O gin I were fairly shot o' her. If she were dead I wad dance on the tap o' her." I learned this version of Snug in a Blanket from pianist Susie Petrov.
3. Smairg a chiurradh spiociare (The Miser) / Miss Gordon of Glastirum's Reel - William Marshall (1748 - 1833) entered the service of the Duke of Gordon at the age of twelve. He was a self-taught fiddler, mathematician, astronomer and clockmaker and one of the most brilliant composers of fiddle tunes of all time.
4. Mr. Abel Banks
5. The Bonnie House of Airly - "Argyll has raised an hunder men, an hunder harness'd rarely, and he's awa' by the bach of Dunhell, to plunder the castle of Airlie." In 1640 Archibald Campbell, the eighth Earl of Argyll, was commissioned by the Scottish parliament to ride against Airlie Castle, home of the royalist Earl of Airlie. Campbell had his own personal grudges to settle as well, and left the place in ruins. The first eight bars of this tune "are supposed the original," according to Gow. The B Part is of my own making.
6. Dubh an Tomaidh (The Dark Night of Tomie) - Angus Fraser, the son of Captain Simon Fraser, was in the middle of preparing his collection of Highland melodies for publication when he died, around the year 1874. His manuscript resurfaced in the 1950s in an Edinburgh second hand bookstore and has recently been published as The Angus Fraser Collection of Scottish Gaelic Airs. Dubh an Tomaidh (The Dark Night of Tomie) is among the more unusual tunes to be found therein : reels in 3/2, while central to the Quebec fiddling and step dancing traditions, are very rare in Scotland.
7. Tha buaidh air an uisge-bheath (The Efficacy of Whisky) - Also from the Angus Fraser collection.
8. Master Francis Sitwell / Lady Ann Wharton Duff's Strathspey / The Big Meeting - Aberdeenshire fiddler J. F. Dickie, a lifelong pacifist and animal rights advocate lived from 1886 until 1983. Dubbed the "Master of the Slow Strathspey" by J Murdoch Henderson, Dickie played with a dramatic and passionate virtuosity. He recorded his variations to Master Francis Sitwell in the early 1950s. My version is very loosely based on Dickie's variations. I learned this setting from Quebec pianist and fiddler Gilles Losier, who learned it in turn from Cape Breton fiddler Joe Cormier. The Big Meeting is my homage to Montreal's annual traditional music festival.
9. Skye Air / Another St. Kilda Song and Dance / Am Botal dubh s an t-slige chreachann (The Dram Shell) - Skye Air and Another St. Kilda Song and Dance are Gaelic melodies from Patrick MacDonald's collection. I've adapted them to fit into a reel form. Am Botal dubh's an t-slige chreachann (the Dram Shell) comes from Captain Simon Fraser's Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles and refers to the traditional Scottish whisky-drinking cup.
10. Mo Chuachag Laghach (My Kindly Sweetheart) / The Glen Where the Deer Is / Feadan Glan a'Phiobair (The Pipe Slang) - My thanks go to Susie Petrov for teaching me Mo Chuachag Laghach and the Glen Where The Deer Is. Faedan glan a'Phiobair (The Pipe Slang) was originally in A minor and can be found in Simon Fraser's collection. "In the words of the pipe slang, the noisy rattling piper of a country wedding draws a ridiculous comparison betwixt his own music and that of the violin, so frequently interrupted by breaking of the strings, tuning, etc., whereas he appeals to all the bonny lasses. If his chanter was ever known to fall while they continue dancing."
11. Duncan Lamont - Donald MacLeod of Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, was a renowned piper, an expert teacher and a prolific composer. I learned this tune of his from the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers.
12. Tha Tairm ann sa Ghleann (The Sound of War From the Glen) - An old song from the 1816 edition of airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles. Says Simon Fraser: "The words give a fine description of a peasant surveying the morning sky, and suddenly hearing, not the sounds of the stately pines, waving their branches in the wind, not the noise of the rushing torrents when a thaw commences, not the roar of distant thunder, or of the neighboring waterfall - but the alarming clang of the enemy's approach to plunder and destroy."
13. Mr. Martin's Compliments to Dr. Keith MacDonald / Mrs. Gordon of Knockespoch
14. Tha m'aigne fo ghruaim (This Gloom on my Soul)
Thanks to: Rachel Aucoin, Eric Beaudry, Eric Breton, Michel Donato, André Marchand, Marc Busic, Dana Whittle, Denis Frechette, Jan Tappan, Susie Petrov, Mrs. Winnie MacLeaod, Dougie Pinock, Gilles Losier, Paddy League, Hanneke Cassel, Michelle Gait and Carol Munro of the University of Aberdeen Libraries and Archives; Tom Campbell of the College of Piping, and all the musicians of Scotland and Quebec who have welcomed and encouraged me over the years.
Special thanks to Marc Bolduc
Fancy Fiddlin’ with Gerry Robichaud, Banff / Rodeo RBS 1212 – circa 1970
Tunes: Leo Bourque Breakdown; Heather on
the Hill; Golden Eagle; Mel’s Jig; Village Carousel Waltz; Ben Torman’s
Reel; Marilyn Bell Reel; Vic’s Jig; High Level Hornpipe; Grandfather’s
Reel; Shannon Waltz; Fiddle Strings
Gerry Robichaud, originally a New Brunswicker, who now resides outside Boston, Mass., came to the company’s attention a number of years ago with his very successful release on Banff (RBS 1067).
Gerry is very active in New England circles and plays Downeast music to the delight of his fans. A very accomplished Fiddler, Gerry can be named as one of the great Canadian exponents of this instrument.
Gerry Robichaud, fiddle; Chuck LeBlanc, piano; Art Richard, bass
Produced by Frank H. Ferrel, Phil & Vivian Williams; Engineers: Mark Wilson & Frank Ferrel; Recorded in Wellesley, Massachusetts, August 1973
Tracks: Slop Road Jig; Golden Wedding Reel;
Centennial Waltz; Sandra’s Jig*; Ottawa Valley Reel; Uncle Loui’s Clog;
Don Tremaine’s Jig; Grand Valley Waltz; Rocket Richard’s Reel; Prince County
Jig; Mother’s Day Waltz; Dickie Rogers; Peace River Jig; Daffodil Waltz;
David’s Jig; Twin Sisters
Gerry Robichaud was born and raised in Saint Paul, New Brunswick. It was there that he began to play the fiddle at an early age, with the help and influence of his mother and four other fiddlers in his immediate family. As a boy Gerry made the acquaintance of Oscar Melanson, a bed-ridden fiddler, who would whistle the old tunes, such as Twin Sisters, for Gerry to learn.
In 1965 Gerry moved his family to the United States and is now living and working in Waltham, Mass. He is active in the French Canadian community there, and still plays on weekends at the local French Club, as he has done for the past 18 years.
Gerry’s music reflects the early influence of the late Don Messer, whose weekly radio programs were a regular feature in Gerry’s family. Gerry also gets much of his music from Tommy Doucet, a fiddler he met soon after coming to the States. Tommy, who is now in his seventies, lives in Lynn, Mass, and is originally from the Maritime Provinces. Although he has never recorded, he is known as one of the finest fiddlers of that tradition, and his compositions are played by many of the popular Canadian fiddlers on records today.
During the past ten years Gerry has won the Massachusetts Federation championship four times, and when he didn’t wink, he always took second. In October, 1972, Gerry won the Northeast Regional Contest held in Barre, Vermont. As a result he represented the Northeast at the National Old Time Fiddlers contest in Weiser, Idaho, where he placed in the top ten., In October, 1973, Gerry returned to Vermont to win the Northeast Regional Contest once more.
Accompanying Gerry on this record are Chuck LeBlanc on piano, and Art Richard on bass. Chuck accompanied Gerry at the Weiser contest and lives in Waltham, Mass., where he is an electrical engineer. Art is a native of New Brunswick, and has played with many professional country bands. His is a contractor by trade and also lives in Waltham.
Gerry’s music is bright and full of warmth, but never too fast for even the oldest member of the French Club to get up and do a step dance...
We hope you will too.
Slope Road Jig: Gerry learned this jig from Tommy Doucet and named it after a road near his home in New Brunswick.
Golden Wedding Reel: This is a traditional New Brunswick reel, originally named Richibucto Reel, after a town in New Brunswick. Don Messer made it popular as The Golden Wedding Reel.
Centennial Waltz: Leaned from a Don Messer recording.
Sandra’s Jig: One of Gerry’s newest tunes. He wrote it just prior to the 1973 Weiser contest, and named it after his daughter Sandra.
Ottawa Valley Reel: traditional
Uncle Loui’s Clog: Gerry learned this and many other tunes from his uncle, Louis Cormier, a well known fiddler in New Brunswick. It is also known as The Pedestal Clog.
Don Tremaine’s Jig: From Don Messer.
Grand Valley Waltz: Another Don Messer tune. Gerry claims Don Messer had a very strong influence on his playing. “I guess he was my idol.”
Rocket Richard’s Reel: Written by Graham Townsend and named for Rocket Richard, the famous Canadian hockey player.
Prince County Jig: A popular Graham Townsend tune.
Mother’s Day Waltz: From Don Messer.
Dickie Rogers: Learned this version from Tommy Doucet. It is also listed in “Cole’s 1,000 Fiddle Tunes” as Dickey Rogers Pedestal Clog, with four parts.
Peace River Jig: Leanred from Frankie Rogers, one of Canada’s best fiddlers.
Daffodil Waltz: Written by Andy De Jarlis, Canada’s king of the waltzes.
David’s Jig: From Matilda Murdock, a well known fiddler in Canada.
Twin Sisters: Learned as a boy from Oscar Melanson
Jerry Robichaud, fiddle; Bobby Robichaud, guitar; Jake O'Connor, acoustic bass; Tony Parkes, piano; Sandy Davis, bones, spoons; Donna Hinds, second fiddle
Produced by Joan Pelton and Donna Hinds; Engineers: Mike Couture; Recorded at Earth Audio, N. Ferrisburg, VT - 1978
Tracks: Walker Street Reel / Temperance
Reel; East Coast Jig / Buchta Dancers' Jig; Shelburne Reel; Spider Island
Jig / Sue's Jig; Maxime Leblanc's Reel / Angus Robichaud's Reel; Debbie's
Jig / Cadeau's Jig; York County Hornpipe / Shelburne Rotary Breakdown /
Cuckoo's Nest; Gold and Silver Waltz; New Brunswick Hornpipe / Rainy Reel;
Cotton-Eyed Joe / Pacific Slope Reel
If any one style of fiddle can be said to be representative of the North and Northeast, it is probably the style originating in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Not only did this style have a disproportionate influence on the rest of Canada through the broadcasts of Don Messer; it has, through contests and recordings, become the style against which fiddlers measure themselves in many parts of the northeastern United States.
The general Maritime style (as distinguished from the pure Scottish style of Cape Breton Island) is characterized by brisk tempo, and a kind of bounce produced by lengthening the accented notes almost imperceptibly (to write them as dotted notes would be to exaggerate the effect). The bowing style is lilting and bouncy, and whole phrases seem to spill out of the fiddle at once, yet every note is clear and identifiable. Grace notes and triplets abound, and many popular tunes are in keys that other fiddlers avoid, such as F and B flat. Unlike New England fiddling, this emphasis on technique does not seem to be tied in with sight-reading as a way of learning tunes. The music is passed from one generation to the next; even now, with recordings serving as tutors for many fiddlers. I know teenagers who are learning tunes and techniques primarily from records, that a classical violinist would think impossible for anyone trained entirely by ear.
Jerry Robichaud is perhaps the best example in New England of a fiddler who grew up in the basic Maritime tradition: he is certainly one of the best such fiddlers anywhere. Born in St. Paul, a village near Moncton, New Brunswick, Jerry spent his early years in an environment where fiddling was as natural as breathing; in all probability it was the single most accepted form of recreation. There were several fiddlers among his friends and family, notably his mother, who Jerry insists is a better fiddler than he is. In addition, the family regularly listened to Don Messer's radio show, which at that time originated in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Messer, a New Brunswicker himself, was the idol of many young Maritimers and ultimately became a Canadian national hero, at times having the most popular TV show on the air. Jerry's fiddling is a blend of the Messer style and the earlier Acadian style that he learned from his mother.
Jerry has lived in the US since 1955, but has not forgotten his roots. From the time he moved, he has played regularly at the local French Club, and has been a fixture at the contests sponsored by the Massachusetts Federation of Franco-American Clubs. In 1972 and 1973 he won the Northeast Regional (now called National Traditional) Old Time Fiddle Contest in Barre, Vermont. He placed in the top ten in the 1973 National Contest in Weiser, Idaho, and has gone back to judge that contest. In the past two years, Jerry has begun playing occasionally for New England style square and contra dances in the Boston area. This record is arranged so that New England dances, commonly written in 32 measures, may be done to the jigs and reels, but any style of country dancing may be done as well.
The music Jerry plays at the French Club, and on this record, is a fairly even mixture of traditional tunes and recent compositions by Anglo-Canadian fiddlers. Both the style and repertoire differ from those of fiddlers widely known as French Canadian, such as Louis Beaudoin, Joseph Allard and Joseph Bouchard. In addition, Jerry alternates on Saturday nights with Joe Cormier, who is of French descent but plays the Scottish fiddle style of Cape Breton.
The Quadrille figures remain the same, the first always danced to jigs and the other two to reels. Both fiddlers play medleys for the dancing, as Jerry does on this record. In the past, Canadian fiddle records in other than Cape Breton style have usually consisted of single tunes played for only about two minutes each, probably to make the music more attractive to disc jockeys; I can think of no other good reason. It pleases and excites me that a fiddler from the Maritimes has finally made a record of music played as he would naturally play it.
The Slippery Stick: Traditional Fiddling from New Brunswick, Rounder Records CD 7016, 1996
Gerry Robichaud, fiddle; Bobby Robichaud, guitar
Produced and annotated by Frank Ferrel and Mark Wilson; Recorded in Waltham, Massachusetts, February, 1996.
Tracks: Grand Lake Reel / The Silver Wedding
Reel; The Coal Branch Reel / Emile Arsenault’s; Moccasin Shuffle / The
Brae Reel; Fred’s Tune / Money Musk; The Bunkhouse Jig; Cousin Bill / Fiddlin’
Phil; Island Ferry / The Herring Reel; Herring Brook / The High Level Hornpipe;
Father Legere’s Marches; Constitution Breakdown / Dragger’s Reel; The Atlantic
Polkas; Tullybardine / La Disputeuse; March from My Mother; The Dancing
Hornpipe; The Slippery Stick; Leprechaun Jig; The Miramichi Fire; Bouctouche
Reel / Saint Anne’s Reel; The Watch City Hornpipe; Traditional New Brunswick
Jig; The Abegweit Breakdown
Much of modern Canadian fiddling derives from the dance music that once cheered the little villages of New Brunswick. But seldom can one hear this music performed in its original charming simplicity. Here one of the best known of Maritime fiddlers, Gerry Robichaud, sits down with his brother Bobby to recreate the invigorating music of a ‘kitchen racket’ of fifty years ago.
New Brunswick is a province rich in diversity, a diversity reflected not only in its physical landscape, but also in its people. When Samuel de Champlain and other Europeans began to visit New Brunswick in the early 1600’s, they were met by Malecite and Micmac Indians. The early French farmers settled at the head of the Bay of Fundy and along the St. John River Valley to present day Fredericton. They called this beautiful country ‘Acadia.’ But the tragic aftermath of the English and French wars forced more than five thousand Acadians into exile in 1755. Many, of course, fled to Louisiana, but another group escaped to what was then a remote and uninhibited coastline along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Baie des Chaleurs, known today as the Acadian Peninsula. One of these Acadian pioneers, François Robichaud, settled at Bouctouche and most of the Robichauds in southeastern New Brunswick descend from this branch. Bitterness over the expulsion, Bobby Robichaud tells us, continued to keep the French and English sub-populations somewhat apart even when he was a youth. In 1783 the English took a turn at being refugees; a large population of Loyalists fled the American Revolution to join British communities within New Brunswick. The population of Saint John swelled so rapidly that by 1785 it had become incorporated as Canada’s first city. Driven from their homes by political pressure and potato famines, waves of Scots and Irish emigrants continued to arrive throughout the Nineteenth Century. But our story centres upon the French population that settled the level farm lands west of Moncton.
Gerry and Bobby’s father, Premelite Robichaud, was born in 1889 and took over the family farm in the little village of Saint-Paul. This hamlet of approximately two hundred twenty five families is located about twenty-five miles northwest of Moncton. On fifty acres of fertile land, Premelite maintained cows, sheep, chickens and a few horses and raised potatoes and berries. In 1916, he married Elise Cormier, born also in St-Paul in 1896, and together they had four daughters and seven sons, including Gerry, born November 23, 1931, and Bobby, born January 7, 1938. Now practically a suburb of Moncton, St-Paul was then a sleepy wayside where everyone got around in horse and buggy. At that time there was little English to be heard; Gerry learned enough in school to read the language, but found little occasion to speak English until he was packed off to the University in Saint-Joseph at age fifteen, having exhausted all educational possibilities available in St-Paul.
Before he left home, Gerry had already become a good fiddler. Although Premelite was not particularly musical, Gerry and Bobby’s mother played the fiddle very well, as did numerous other aunts, uncles and cousins. These, as well as many friendly neighbours, used to gather in the kitchen of the old Robichaud farmhouse, where one would find bread rising to the sound of fiddles and the rhythm of dancing feet. Gerry remembers:
“When we were kids, all we had in the house was the fiddle. My mother used to play and that’s where we picked it up. She had a very good bowing arm. I started when I was eight years old and I had a hard time reaching the floor to tap my feet when I was sitting down. And my fingers were so small I had a hard time to reach the finger board, too. So my mother would tell me, “I think you should wait another year or two,” but I’d say to myself, “I think I can learn those tunes that she plays.” So every time she’d go out of the house and I got a chance, I’d pick up that fiddle. The first thing she knew, I could playa few tunes. And then I got a lot of help from her – she used to come over and tell me, “Hey, do this or do that a certain way.” And in no time I could pick a number of tunes. I got as many tunes as I could from my mother and even more from my brother Fred. And other old time fiddlers used to come and play in the kitchen and I picked up a lot from them, too. I’d sit down and listen, and as soon as they left, I’d pick up the fiddle and try to do the same thing as they did. Later on, Harvey and Bobby got a guitar and we’d put the guitar with the fiddle and it would sound a lot better. Pretty soon they started coming to get us to play for parties – what we called ‘kitchen rackets.’”
Bobby, seven years younger than Gerry, learned guitar after much the same fashion:
“There was always a fiddle in the house, but I was not interested in the fiddle. I always wanted to play the guitar. Now my brother Harvey had a guitar and on Sunday afternoons he used to have a few guys come over. They would sing a few songs and I’d watch their fingers. They’d make a certain chord and I’d say to myself, “Well, I like this one here.” So when Harvey was gone out of the house, I’d sneak in upstairs and pick up the guitar and try to get the same sound. The following week I would try it again and that’s how I got going. I couldn’t read a note – it was all by ear.”
The guitar was quite a novelty in St-Paul; indeed, until Bobby and his brothers began backing her up, Elise Robichaud had always played without accompaniment. Gerry was usually off working in Minto, but Bobby would team up with another fiddling brother, Emery, to play at kitchen rackets around the neighbourhood: “they’d supply the beer and we’d play,” Bobby remembers.
A remarkable source for some of the Robichauds’ best tunes was a neighbour named Oscar Melanson. In his youth, a skilled fiddler, Oscar suffered from progressive infantile paralysis and by the time Gerry knew him, he was bed-ridden and no longer able to play. But Oscar could whistle all of his old tunes beautifully, complete in every nuance required on the fiddle. Up to the time Oscar died in 1971, Gerry would regularly visit the invalid with his fiddle and compare observations on the playing of fiddle music. Several of these tunes Oscar recalled from the visit of a great fiddler named Emile Arsenault who came up to St-Paul from Rogersville for a week one winter around 1930. Gerry wasn’t yet born, but his older brother Fred recalls Emile’s visit vividly. They had no piano in the house, but a portable organ was borrowed from the village for a cousin, Heni Robichaud, and they had the most wonderful all night soirees. Oscar retained a perfect memory for Emile’s tunes and was able to pass these along to Gerry years later. These wonderful melodies, it seems to us, rank among the Robichauds’ most priceless heirlooms.
Besides these local influences, the brothers began learning many tunes from the radio. In those days, it was very easy to hear good music on the radio. Angus Robichaud of St-Mary was an old time fiddler who used to perform fairly regularly on the weekly ‘Bunkhouse Boys’ broadcasts from Moncton. Bobby remembers the task of retaining the tunes as a cooperative enterprise:
“In those days, of course, we didn’t have any cassette players, so a lot of these tunes, we had to pick up straight from the radio. We had no choice. But when you’re a kid, you learn faster. So if we didn’t pick it up the first time, one of us might pick it up the second time and learn to whistle it or something, and the third time around, we’d have it right down.”
Most exciting of all to the Robichaud boys was Don Messer. Clad in a flannel shirt and broadcasting as “The New Brunswick Lumberjack” from Saint John, this famous fiddler soon jumped over to the more powerful station CFCY located in Charlottetown, Prince Edward island. Although Messer was a native son of New Brunswick, his group switched identities and became “Don Messer and his Islanders” in their new home, a name Messer retained for his aggregations throughout their rather amazing later career. Gerry would listen avidly to these broadcasts and often would catch a complicated new tune after listening to it once or twice, a retentive ability, he wistfully remarks today, granted only to the young and eager. Messer, a very accomplished musician, in those days played much in the same style and with the same repertory found elsewhere in New Brunswick. The elements that seemed novel to Gerry lay in the fact that Messer generally speeded ‘everything up a step’ compared to the tempo at which Elise Robichaud and their neighbours played and that Messer utilized a large orchestra comprised of piano, guitar, piano accordion and, most remarkably to young Gerry’s ear, a drummer who would switch from traps to blocks when he wished to highlight some strain within the tune. This merry, but supremely disciplined, sound quickly became canonical across all of Canada, blurring what had once been more independent modes of performance within Ontario, the Maritimes and Western Canada (leaving only Cape Breton, Irish and the Quebecois styles relatively unaffected). The Messer influence upon Canadian fiddling in every way was comparable to the way in which Bill Monroe or Muddy Waters rewrote performance style within their own strains of music. In the ‘fifties and ‘sixties, many long playing records of Messer-like fiddling were released in Canada featuring artists such as Ward Allen, King Ganam, Graham Townsend and others. These recordings extended the influence of Messer’s style yet further; indeed, it can be fairly claimed that the ‘Nashville school’ of contemporary fiddling in the United States is actually Canadian in origin, spurred on by Southern devotees such as Tommy Jackson and Howdy Forrester. Some of the most popular tunes heard at Southern fiddle contests today – “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” “Maple Sugar” - are actually Canadian tunes of relatively recent vintage.
On many of the performances heard on this record, Gerry has attempted to duplicate the tunes and the tempos he recalls from his family’s kitchen fifty years ago. He comments that he would be required to play these tunes quite a bit faster to satisfy a square dance audience of today – they would wonder why Gerry Robichaud, famed as he is for brilliant execution at rather ferocious tempos, should suddenly have turned so draggy. And these same dancers would be equally perplexed at the odd measures of “The Slippery Stick.” At first, Gerry was a bit nervous when we asked him to recapture the older sound, but, as he went along, rich memories of family washed around him as he returned to the less hurried tempos favored by his mother and his cousin Helen. Most affecting in this regard were the stately marches he recalls from Elise Robichaud. Around 1915, long before Gerry was born and while Elise was yet a young lady, she played for processionals in a little group led by the village priest, Père Legere. For the rest of her life, Gerry’s mother would sit in the kitchen and dreamily play these pieces and talk of times past. Gerry believes that he has reproduced these wonderful melodies almost note for note to the way his mother played.
To be sure, on other selections on this record, Gerry shows what a master he is at more contemporary tempos. Don Messer was reported to have clamed, in a 1969 biography: “All I can say, is that I play tunes as written. I play melody and let the accompaniment do the rest.” This is a misleading understatement, but there is no doubt that Gerry draws upon his Acadian heritage to flavor his performances of Messer-based material with a good deal more ornamentation within the melody. Unlike Irish or Scots players, these decorations are not achieved primarily through the use of bow triplets, but almost entirely through phenomenal left hand control of trills, turns, and grace notes. In his bow work, Gerry utilizes a good deal of syncopated ‘cross’ bowing. Here one hears Gerry’s French heritage once again at work: the lessons learned from his mother’s ‘Slippery Stick’ still reap rich rewards in the delightful syncopation that Gerry applies to the Messer-driven ‘Fiddlin’ Phil’.
As Messer gained in popularity, eventually obtaining a long running popular weekly television show on the CBC. It seemed that newly composed ‘novelty’-type tunes began to crowd out older repertory such as ‘The Atlantic Polkas.’ Fortunately, Maritime fiddling seems to be returning of late to more distinguished material, particularly some of the recent ‘old style’ compositions such as Gerry features here, among which should be included his own ‘Grand Lake Reel’ and ‘Watch City Hornpipe.’
Bobby’s guitar accompaniment is rhythmically solid, and grounded in Acadian tradition, anticipating and emphasizing the beat, especially in unbalanced rhythm patterns like the ones found in tunes like ‘Coal Branch Reel’ or ‘Moccasin Shuffle.’
Even before he went off to the university, Gerry had made his first radio appearance at thirteen on CKCW in Moncton, as a guest of the “Full of Pep Boys” (who later became The Bunkhouse Boys). Shortly thereafter, he won his first fiddle contest on that same radio station:
“Back then they would have the contest on the radio. There was the Ray and Ann Little Show, featuring “Speedy The Fiddler.” They had a show on every Saturday night and, especially I the winter months, they would hold a contest. About fifteen of us played one Saturday and the three finalists came back the following Saturday. Not to be bragging, but I remember playing off against two older fiddlers, Eloise LeBlanc and Angus Robichaud, and I won it! This was a big thrill for a fledgling fiddler, for Angus Robichaud had been one of his radio idols.”
Gerry had little time to play the year he finished his schooling at the University, but at sixteen he returned to the family farm and, within a year or two, joined a band in Fredericton that carried the improbably (given the location) appellation, “The Lone Star Playboys.” Later they relocated to St. John. Like Don Messer’s ensembles of the period, the Playboys featured fiddle, electric guitar, piano accordion and drums. Following a pattern that persists in clubs featuring Canadian music to this day, “Square Sets” and old-time fiddle tunes would alternate with ‘round dancing’ to country and western hits, which, in this period , consisted of Wilf Carter, Hank Snow, Hank Williams and the like. The Playboys broadcast a daily program from St. John and would play evening dances around the countryside. To cut down on traveling time, they would pull a trailer to a central location calibrated to that day’s bookings and sleep there.
After several months with the Playboys, Gerry joined the band at “The Casa Loma” in Minto, a nightclub which Gerry describes as the local ‘big name’ then. It was while living in Minto, that Gerry met his wife Geraldine. In those postwar years, the mines were going full blast and the Casa Loma was packed with many miners happy to pay the fifty cents admission charge. Gerry played there five years and had a wonderful time – “it seemed like it was all good times back then” – but the pay wasn’t enough to live on and regular day jobs were hard to find except in the mines. Gerry considered the latter, but, after inspecting conditions underground, decided that such work wasn’t for him.
So in March of 1955, Gerry reluctantly left his beloved New Brunswick to seek work in the ‘Boston States.’ Brother Fred was already here, as well as several sisters. Within a few days of his arrival, Gerry found abundant opportunities in construction work. Before he retired several years ago, Gerry had worked for seventeen years in an electroplating shop. Upon his arrival, he quickly discovered why Boston is often dubbed ‘the southernmost city in Canada:’ the large immigrant Maritime population that lives in and around the Waltham area. Down the hill from the Waltham City Hall lies a large concrete block building that houses the Franco-American Victory Club, popularly known as just ‘The French Club,’ one of the most intriguing homes of folk culture found in America. There Gerry encountered many friends and relations who had fled similar economic hardship. There he could hear his native tongue spoken within the big city whose work-a-day life was so different from what Gerry had known at home in New Brunswick.
“When I came to Waltham, I met a lot of people I knew that had moved from New Brunswick and I joined the French Club just about a week later. I came here March 9th, and I think I joined the club on the 20th or so.”
At the time, a fiddler from Cheticamp, Nova Scotia, Alcide Aucoin, who had once made several great 78’s for Decca, was playing Cape Breton music for the square sets. For some reason or other, Alcide soon moved out to Orange Hall in Brookline and Gerry was hired as his replacement.
“One Saturday afternoon I brought my fiddle to the club, and a cousin of mine, Leo Paul Bourque, played the piano and we had a session there. The president of the Club was there and he came right over and asked if I would play on Saturday night. I said, “Well, I’ll give it a try.” That was in 1955 and I played there steady every Saturday night for twenty-five years.”
In New Brunswick, Gerry had never used a caller, but, at the French Club, the great Willie Joe Chaisson called the sets (we are sorry to report that Willie Joe passed away just as this album was going to press). In the early ‘sixties, Gerry began alternating weekends with fellow Rounder artist Joe Cormier and later on Ludger Lefort began trading off the weekends as well. All in all, Gerry has managed to play at the French Club continuously for an astonishing forty-one ears.
In 1962, Bobby retraced his brother’s footsteps:
“About seven years after Gerry came down here, I came out of the Navy in Canada and I went to Moncton every two weeks looking for work for six months. But there was nothing – no work at all. I thought I could get a job, but nothing doing. So I did the same as Gerry: I decided to come here.”
Eventually Bobby settled into working as a machinist. Like Gerry, Bobby found coming to Massachusetts a tremendous change – “the difference between our little village where everything was so quiet and the States was like night and day.” He would get together with Gerry and other friends on a Sunday to play and would often fill in for a set or two at the French Club.
Shortly after Gerry started playing at the club, he met another of his chief influences, Tommy Doucet. Originally from Nova Scotia, Tommy was then living in Linn. After Gerry had finished a set, Tommy came up to him and said, “You’re the guy that I’ve wanted to meet.” It turned out that Tommy had once traveled through New Brunswick and had heard Gerry play a fiddle tune on CFNB that he hoped to learn. After that, Tommy would regularly come over to Gerry’s on Sundays to swap tunes. Gerry was amazed by Tommy’s style – he had never heard anything like it before. Tommy had unrivaled control over the higher positions and, as Gerry says, “he could make that bow bounce like nobody’s business.” After Tommy had emigrated to Boston in the late ‘twenties, he had come under the wing of André LePlante (whom Gerry once met when he first came to the U.S.). André taught Tommy several tunes and persuaded him to learn to read music. After that, Tommy became a virtual tornado of virtuosity, picking up fiddle tunes from the amazing range of sources available around the Boston area. Hearing loss eventually put an end to Tommy’s fiddling, but Gerry learned many fine tunes during those Sunday sessions.
In 1960, through the assistance of Winston ‘Scotty’ Fitzgerald, Gerry released an album on Rodeo Records of Canada, which was followed by a second collection five years later. Although Gerry did not see much money from these recordings, they sold well enough and spread Gerry’s reputation across Canada. Gerry won the New England Regional Fiddle Championship a number of times and, in consequence, was sent out to the big contest in Wieser, Idaho. There he met Phil and Vivian Williams, who commissioned Gerry’s old friend Frank Ferrel to produce Gerry’s fine recording for Voyager Records. Gerry had made two recordings subsequently (available from G. Robichaud, 27 Moore St., Waltham, MA 02154), as well as working as a member of the fine Maine French Fiddlers ensemble. Of course, he can still be heard at the French Club, playing for Saturday night square sets in the manner and style he acquired long ago in New Brunswick.
On a Sunday afternoon brother Bobby will still drive over with his guitar, the kids and friends will drop in and Geraldine will cook up something delicious. And the Robichaud house on a Waltham side street will begin to seem more and more like the kitchen of an old farm house back in the village of St-Paul.
1. Grand Lake Reel / The Silver Wedding Reel – New Brunswick’s players usually do not play medleys, preferring instead to play one tune through a number of times. But for this recording, Gerry managed to fit several complementary tunes together in a quite effective manner. Gerry composed the first tune while vacationing at his summer cabin on Grand Lake in New Brunswick. In the mid-40’s, Gerry learned “The Silver Wedding Reel” from a local radio broadcast by Cyl Arsenault. Gerry barely knew Cyl but Bobby worked a summer job in a lumber camp with Arsenault a few years later. Although the camp was located only about ten miles outside of Moncton, the crew would bunk there during the week and return to town only on weekends. Bobby remembers Cyl, who originally came from P.E.I., as a very quiet person who, after supper, would sit outside the shanty and play the fiddle slowly – at an even more sedate tempo than Elise Robichaud. Don Messer later recorded this tune as “The Princess Reel,” its more customary title today. Another wonderful setting Gerry acquired from Cyl Arsenault was ‘Twin Sisters’, which appears on Gerry’s Voyager recording.
2. The Coal Branch Reel / Emile Arsenault’s – Coal Branch is a town adjacent to St-Paul. Helen Arsenault lived there and had married Gerry and Bobby’s cousin Albert. About fifteen years older than Gerry, she was from the Mailet family, who were all well regarded musicians. Helen would often visit St-Paul to exchange tunes with the Robichauds. Eventually Helen wound up in Waltham as well. Helen also played “The Slippery Stick” and these two wonderfully crooked tunes give a tantalizing taste of old-time New Brunswick fiddling. Equally striking is ‘Emile Arsenault’s Reel’ recalled by Oscar Melanson from Emile’s memorable visit to St-Paul long ago.
3. Moccasin Shuffle / The Brae Reel – Oscar ‘Joe’ Robichaud lives in New Hampshire and is a long time friend and musical companion. Joe happens to be related by marriage to the well-known Riendeaus of Berlin, which shows how close the world of old-time fiddling can be. Joe himself can be heard playing a vigorous ‘Reel du Pendu’ on Rounder 8041. Joe picked up the unusual ‘Moccasin Shuffle’ from his father who claimed he had heard it from a Micmac Indian trader in New Brunswick. Having no name, Joe invented one. Gerry recently acquired the driving “The Brae” from the Canadian Maritimes Champion fiddler, Elmo LeBlanc.
4. Fred’s Tune / Money Musk – All the boys in St-Paul performed the first tune on harmonica, but Gerry especially liked the way his brother Fred played it. Now retired in Florida, Fred is a good old-time fiddler as well. Gerry does not recall hearing the tune on the fiddle before. ‘Money Musk’ enjoys as wide a currency today as any of the grand old Scots reels. Its composer, Daniel Dow of Perthshire, first published ‘Sir Archibald Grant of Moneymusk’s Reel’ in his Thirty-Seven New Reels and Strathspeys in 1780. The intent is not to honor the farm town in Aberdeenshire, but instead its erstwhile laird.
5. The Bunkhouse Jig – Angus Robichaud, who is now in his late seventies and living in Moncton, used to play many appealing jigs. Since Gerry does not recall its original title, he named it for the group with which Angus frequently performed.
6. Cousin Bill / Fiddlin’ Phil – The first tune derives from Eddie Poirier, who recorded it on Paragon Records. Eddie is well known in the Maritimes not only for his mastery of an astonishing range of fiddle styles, but for his skills upon all other string instruments as well. Gerry euphonically links this tune to ‘Fiddlin’ Phil’, a widely disseminated melody that was published in a number of tune books early in this century. In the Midwest, it is usually known as ‘Old Dubuque’ and we’ve heard it played in Kentucky as ‘Trouble Down in Georgia.’ It is worth comparing Gerry’s syncopated treatment, derived from Don Messer, with that of the great Missouri fiddler Cyril Stinnett on MSOTFA 105.
7. Island Ferry / The Herring Reel – This medley consists of two fine compositions that Gerry has learned comparatively recently. While visiting home in the mid-‘sixties, Gerry saw a young fiddler on television, Lionel Porier. He was from St. John and played an original composition, “The Island Ferry.” Tragically, Lionel passed away a few years ago. ‘The Herring Reel’ was learned from the celebrated P.E.I. fiddler, Eddie Arsenault.
8. Herring Brook / The High Level Hornpipe – The fist tune was a specialty of Tommy Doucet, who told Gerry that he wrote it. Tommy’s old home recording of this same tune coupling was once available on Rounder (we hope to rerelease an improved version sometime in the future). James Hill’s ‘High Level Hornpipe’ is named for one of the marvelous British bridges erected in the Nineteenth Century. Gerry’s rather special version was acquired long ago from the radio broadcasts of Tommy Linkletter of Collingwood, Nova Scotia and features an interesting descent into the relative minor. Despite the innumerable treatments of this popular tune, Gerry things that Tommy’s was the best he ever heard. It should be remarked that Gerry’s old Rodeo recording of ‘The High Level Hornpipe’ has been widely influential in its own right, as it was included on a widely circulated fiddle sampler in the ‘sixties.
9. Father Leger’s Marches – Here are several of the marches that Gerry’s mother acquired from the local parish priest. To our knowledge unique to record, these beautiful processionals effectively evoke a serene time long departed. In his mother’s memory, Gerry plays these note for note as he heard them from her, in a slow and dignified manner, contrasting sharply with the rapid pace that informs most New Brunswick fiddling.
10. Constitution Breakdown / Dragger’s Reel – The first reel is a composition by the Cape Breton Escanoni Indian fiddler, Lee Cremo, whereas ‘The Dragger’s Reel’ derives once again from Eddie Arsenault.
11. The Atlantic Polkas – This classic brace of tunes (originally there were four in the group) comes from the playing of Don Messer. The polka became suddenly popular in the ‘forties and tunes that could accommodate its dance steps were in great demand. Gerry felt lucky that he had learned this set shortly before he joined the Lone Star Playboys, for they proved to be one of their most requested selections. Apparently, Messer had learned this same lesson as well: in his biography, Don Messer recalls attending a concert by the well known Toronto band, George Wade and His Cornhuskers:
“The crowd kept asking for polkas, the ‘Atlantic Polkas’ in particular. Wade’s band was not familiar with that type of music. I heard my name being called from the stage, and I went up and played”
12. Tullybardine / La Disputeuse – ‘Tullybardine’ was brought home by Gerry’s brother Fred. It represents a pleasantly ‘Frenchified’ version of ‘The Marchioness of Tullybardine,’ which is not to be confused with the popular ‘The Marquis of Tullybardine’ (such titles, the bane of any student of the Scots repertory, result from the patronage by gentry that supported this music during its formative years). ‘La Disputeuse’ is an older set of the tune now known as ‘The Growling Old Man and rumbling Old Woman.’ Don Messer’s more modern rendition is now popular among Canadian fiddlers. An old fiddler named Philippe Robichaud used to visit and Elise would invariably request of him, ‘Jouez ‘La Disputeuse,’’ which he would play quite slowly. Imitations on the violin of domestic debate display an amazingly wide-spread distribution. For an interesting further representative of this tradition, see Roger Cooper’s Rounder recording from Kentucky (Rounder 0380. A good Quebec setting of the older tune can be heard on Louis Boudreault’s Voyager recording.
Philippe played only a few tunes and one of his favorites was the old Scots ‘Four Poster,’ where he would rap sharply with the end of the bow on the four corners of the fiddle. Gerry’s mother would politely tolerate this treatment of her beloved violin, but, after Philippe left, would mutter ‘if he plays that too many times, he’ll go right through the fiddle.’ It’s little wonder that she would always request ‘La Disputeuse’ instead!
13. March from My Mother – Another march presumably from Father Legere.
14. The Dancing Hornpipe – Tommy Doucet, Gerry’s source, claimed he wrote this as well, but in one of Tom’s manuscript books, it bears the annotation, ‘Written by Alcide Aucoin’s nephew.’ Alcide himself had been tutored in Scots music by Alex Gillis and broadcast and recorded with Gillis in the ‘thirties as The Inverness Serenaders.
15. The Slippery Stick – This particular setting was brought to St-Paul by Emile Arsenault. Oscar whistled it and his mother and cousin Helen played it as well. The uneven timing of tunes like ‘The Slippery Stick,’ although typical of older style reels, is not well suited for thirty-two bar square sets and have lost favor with modern dance fiddlers like Gerry. It is unfortunate that the social setting for a tune like this has been lost, for it is certainly one of the highlights of this collection. Gerry has known the tune since a boy, but had not played it for quite a while.
16. Leprechaun Jig – A Classic Don Messer tune composed by John Durocher.
17. The Miramichi Fire – In the early days, timber along the Miramichi River furnished masts for the local ship building industry, but a great fire in 1825 destroyed huge stretch of the forest. For interesting details, as well as the classic lumberjack song that describes the event, see Manny and Wilson, Folksongs of Miramichi. Living south of the affected region, Gerry had never heard of his calamitous event, but he learned this striking tune in 1950 from a fiddler from St-Paul named Edgar Legere. Edgar had been raised n a farm as well but had moved to Minto to work in the coal mines. Edgar is now in his late seventies. A younger fiddler whom Gerry greatly admires, Ivan Hicks, has also recorded ‘The Miramichi Fire’ recently.
18. Bouctouche Reel / Saint Anne’s Reel – Gerry’s mother, who was his source, once asked her brother what this popular local tune was called and he replied that everyone just called it ‘Reel de Bouctouche’ after the nearby village. Gerry’s unusual version of the popular ‘Saint Anne’s Reel’ came from listening to Cyl Arsenault on the radio. Gerry describes Cyl’s version as ‘double bow all the way through.’ An early recording made by the great Quebecois fiddler, Joseph Allard, may have spawned the chain of transmission that has made ‘Saint Anne’s’ a popular tune across North America, so that it is now as easy to hear the tune in West Virginia as it is in New Brunswick. Listeners who have grown jaded with respect to its unusual setting will find that Cyl Arsenault’s version restores new life to this magnificent chestnut.
19. The Watch City Hornpipe – In virtually every antique store, there is a display case filled with old watches. Chances are that one of them will be a fancy Waltham pocket watch. In consequence, Gerry’s American home, Waltham, is still known as ‘Watch City,’ although the old factory is long closed and converted to a cultural center. This is one of Gerry’s recent compositions.
20. Traditional New Brunswick Jig – Gerry and Bobby know little about the origins of this sprightly quadrille, but it was commonly played by the fiddlers around St-Paul. This is their mother’s version.
21. The Abegweit Breakdown – The ferry boat that ran from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island used to be called ‘The Abegweit’. Gerry learned this from a late ‘forties radio broadcast of Don Messer’s. Tommy Doucet used to play this ingratiating melody in A as Gerry does, but then modulate to a tour de force recasting in the higher positions. Gerry still shakes his head in amazement when he thinks of it.
Special thanks to Geraldine Robichaud, Fred Robichaud, Oscar Robichaud, Paul MacDonald and The Ohio State University. Except as noted, all compositions are traditional, arranged by Gerry Robichaud, © 1996 Happy Valley Music, BMI
Hitting The Notes, Ind. SAM-8704 - 1997 (cassette only)
Samtantha Robichaud, fiddle; Kimberly Holmes, piano; Skip Holmes, guitar / banjo; Ray Legere, Mandolin / guitar / fiddle / bass; Marvena Welling, piano; Jocelyne Bourque, fiddle harmony; Claude Vautour, spoons
Produced and Engineered by Ray Legere; recorded and mixed at Acoustic Horizon, May 1997
Tracks: Sam's Sugar Bush Jig / Smash The Window; Bay of Fundy Reel; Flowers of Hope; Down Yonder; Peter's Air / Peter's Jig / Flowers of Edinburgh; High Level Hornpipe / Whitefish on the Rapids; Growling Old Man, Growling Old Woman / Mason's Apron; Logieville Two-Step / Redwing / St. Anne's Reel; Yellow Rose of Texas; Cleaver's World / Bowing The Strings; Carleton Country Breakdown / Fiddle Fingers; Amazing Grace
Samantha Robichaud, affectionately known as Sam, at the age of 10 has been fiddling for 6 years and is the youngest member of the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers, an adult Oldtime group, led by Ivan and Vivian Hicks. She has earned some 54 medals and trophies for fiddling and has won her own and older age class in several contests. She also has been awarded top marks for her class in the Greater Moncton Music Festival. Sam is a frequent guest artist at concerts, exhibitions and other public events as well as a favourite performer for Church congregations, senior and nursing homes. She was recently selected as one of only two solo violinists to play in the Moncton Music Festival, Parade of Stars (Jr. division). Sam gives much credit to her fiddle teacher, Jocelyne Bourque and violin teacher, Margaret Wood, both of Moncton, for much of her success.
"I would like to say, special thanks to those who have encouraged, supported and helped me with my music during the past 6 years. I dedicated this tape to all of you who share the love of fiddle music. For my grandfather (Eloi Robichaud) who has made sure there was always music in the Robichaud house, I play "Logieville Two-Step" "Redwing" and "St. Anne's Reel." The last tune, "Amazing Grace," I play in memory of two special people, Mabel and Manley Gallin."
Just Being Me, Ind. no label - no serial - 1999
Samantha Robichaud, fiddle, step dancing; Kimberley Holmes, keyboard, ukulele; Thomas Robichaud, keyboard; Skip Holmes, acoustic guitar; John Robichaud, acoustic guitar; Maurice Fleming, saxophone; Ray Legere, second fiddle, bass, mandolin, egg; Jocelyne Bourque, second fiddle
Produced by Ray Legere, Skip Holmes and Samantha Robichaud; Engineer: Ray Legere; Produced at Acoustic Horizon
Tracks: Bonjour comment ça va / Reel des cinq Dionne; Coming Home / Ralphy's Jig; Lori's Waltz; Buck Fever Rag / Cotton Eyed Joe; Three Days in Miami / Point au Pic; Halifax County Hornpipe / Ontario Swing; In The Mood; Tam Lyn / Mason's Apron / Welcome to the Shetland Islands; Pam's Clog / Kip and Skim's Jig / A Reel Dare; Gram Lee's Waltz; Don Messer's Breakdown / Mother's Reel / Johnny Wagner; Shades of Dawn; Baie Verte Two Step / Crooked Stovepipe; Clarinet Polka
Fiddle played by Samantha Robichaud (made by Clayton Boudreau)
Ukulele played by Kimberley Holmes (owned by J.C. Doane)
Acoustic Guitar played by John Robichaud (owned by the late Eloi Robichaud)
Since recording her first album, "Hitting The Notes", in 1997 at age 10 years, Samantha has continued to focus on her music and add to a long list of accomplishments including an appearance on the nationally televised East Coast Music Awards Show (1998) with such artists as Natalie MacMaster, Buddy MacMaster, Winnie Chafe, Dave MacIsaac and others; a 16-day USA showcase tour (1998) with Ivan and Vivian Hicks and the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers performing at such places as the Grande Ole Opry and Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville and opening for Barbara Fairchild at her theatre in Branson, MO; a part in a television commercial advertising Fiddles of the World, an international fiddling event; the honour of representing her province of New Brunswick in the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championship, Nepean, ON (August 1999) where she was a finalist; the privilege of performing during the Francophone Summit, Moncton, NB (August, 1999); numerous music festivals and fiddling contests (for the third year in a row Maritime Fiddling Champion in the 12 and under class and also received the Don Messer Trophy - July 1999); and the list goes on.
Although this is an impressive list for such a young person and for someone who has been playing for some eight years, Samantha always enjoys sharing her gift of music with others whether this be at the local cancer lodge or nursing homes, for the War Veterans or for some needy cause. To add to her enjoyment of performing, her brother Thomas, has become an important part of her music life, as her keyboard accompanist. You will hear how well they compliment each other on this recording.
I have enjoyed having Samantha as a junior member of our fiddle group, the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers. She has a pleasing personality that is prominent when she performs in front of an audience. She always plays with authority and confidence. I wish her much success with her musical future and I am sure you will catch the fun from Samantha's fiddling as you listen to her second recording.
Ivan Hicks, Director
Sussex Avenue Fiddlers
Special thanks to Skip and Kimberley Holmes along with Ray Legere for all their help with the making of this recording. I would also like to thank my Mom, Dad and my brother Thomas for their support, along with my grandparents Wally and Mary Fisher and grandmother Arty Robichaud.
To my fiddle teacher and friend Jocelyne Bourque and classical teacher Margaret Wood for all their guidance and patience.
To Ivan and Vivian Hicks who have always supported my love for music and for encouraging me to go with my music.
To all the people who give me their great support, I will never forget each and every one of you.
Samantha Robichaud, fiddle, vocals; Jac Gautreau, piano, strings, accordion, keyboards, loops, bass, electric & acoustic guitar, percussion; Danny Maillet, acoustic guitar; Marty Melanson, bass; Mike Porelle, drums; Thomas Robichaud, piano; Danny Bourgois, drums
Produced and engineered by Jac Gautreau; Recorded and mixed at Studio Staccato
Tracks: Sherbrooke Reel; Black Jack Whiskey; Big John MacNeil / Little John MacNeil; Jigue de Pointe-Sapin; Y2K Calypso; The Waltz of Joyce Montgomery; Twistin' The Bow*; Olympic Reel / Draggin the Bow; Twelfth Street Rag; Reel Beatrice; Swinging with the Eighties; Art & Marg's Reel; Jig du Bois / Bill Harmer's Reel; Georgianna Moon; Grey Sky Hornpipe / Sam's Hornpipe; Space Available / Sheehan's Reel / Sandy MacIntyre's Trip To Boston; Willy
*Samantha Robichaud with Ivan Hicks
Special ThanksVivacious, SR-CD-04, Ind - 2004
Mom and Dad, thank you for believing in me and supporting my dreams. Thomas, a great piano player, my big brother, I would be lost without you. My grandparents, Mary and Wally Fisher, thanks for all the miles you have traveled with me to make my dreams come true. My grandmother Arty Robichaud, what a great clothes designer you are, thanks for all your support. Jeannine Despres, thank you for taking me on as a voice student and having so much patience with me. Jac Gautreau, what fun I had doing this recording!!! Your studio is hot in more ways than one. Thanks for all your help and patience. And a big thanks to all of you who have been there for me during the last 10 years of my music career.
I dedicate my first recorded vocal, "Willy", to all my teachers that have taught me so much about music. May each and everyone of you know I will always cherish what I have learned from you and will pass it on to others as the years go by.
Samantha Robichaud, fiddle, vocals; Danny Bourgeois, drums; Rémi Arsenault, bass; Mario Robichaud, piano, keyboards; George Belliveau, guitar; Danny Maillet, electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass; Serge Lopez, flamenco guitar; Denis Hachey, percussion; François Emond, Sax; Etienne LeBlanc, bass; Isabelle Thériault, accordion; Emmanuelle LeBlanc, bodhran; Joel Robichaud, programming
Produced by Georges Belliveau with Samantha Robichaud; Engineered by Georges Belliveau at Studio Belivo
Tracks: Cool Song Medley: Beautiful Goretree / Flowers of Edinburgh / Sandy MacIntyre's Trip To Boston; Technical Difficulties: Catherine's Reel / Piano Player's Reel*; Español; Three Men On A White Horse; Two-Faced: Elmo's Reel*; Bird on the Fence: Eesus and Felitia / Pigeon on the Gate / Ross's Reel; I'm Not Going Anywhere; Vivacious*; Autograph Medley: The Autograph / Herring Reel / Jean's Reel; Flying In The Puddin'; Jigidy Jig Jig: Maxell Jig / The Advil Jig / Sandbox Jig; Why Does It Matter*; La Match
I Have Played the fiddle for thirteen years and as each year passes, I find myself growing more in love with the instrument and the styles of music that can be created with my fiddle and bow. On my fourth recording, Vivacious, I have chosen to convey this love through a variety of styles and tunes that fully express my passion for playing.
Special thanks to Georges Belliveau, who had the patience to help me make this recording come true, to Lyne Haché Leblanc, who devoted many hours crafting the Vivacious CD art, and to Karine Wade, for the magnificient photography. Thank you to all the musicians who worked with me on this recording, your contribution and talent are an inspiration to me. Also a very special thank you to Bruce Morel for his guidance in this project.
Thanks to my parents, Joe and Beth Robichaud, my grandparents Wally and Mary Fisher, Arty Robichaud, my music teachers Jocelyne Bourque, Ivan Hicks, Margaret Wood (classical) and vocal coach Jeannine Després. Your support and guidance over the last 13 years inspire me every day.
To my big brother Thomas Robichaud, there aren't enough words to thank you enough for your support over the years, you are thebest, and to Mathieu Brun my guitar player and friend, you give me the courage and love to go for my dreams.
I would like to thank the New Brunswick Sound Initiative Program and thanks to all who have supported me over the last 13 years, you know who your are, this album is for all of you.
100 Years of Old-Time Fiddle Favourites with Frankie Rodgers and the Rodgers Bros. Band , Point Records P-297
Tracks: Lone Star Rag; Devil's Dream; Arkansas Traveller; Turkey In The Straw; Irish Washerwoman; Sailor's Hornpipe; Flop Eared Mule; Golden Slippers; John McNeil; Black Mountain Rag
Tracks: Ridin' The Fiddle; Home In West
Virginia; Road To The Isles; Reel de grandmere; Crooked Stovepipe; Lovers
Waltz*; Blue Eyed Shirley*; Joys of Quebec; Rubber Dolly; Red River Jig
Me And My Fiddle, MCA Coral
(Previously released as Point Records PS 364)
Tracks: Me And My Fiddle; Listen to the Mocking Bird; Orange Blossom Special; Maidens Prayer; Alabama Jubilee; Old Joe Clark; City Lights; Chicken Reel; Black Mountain Rag; Faded Love
Dancing Country Style, Banff Rodeo RBS. 1059
Tracks: Rodeo Waltz; Skiffle Fiddle: Maiden’s Prayer; B. Bowman Hop; Country Waltz; Waltz Promenade; Faded Love; Canel Street Polka; Lone Star Rag; Oscar Stone’s Rag
Dedication, JLR97 – 1997
Jennifer Roland, fiddle; Ryan MacNeil, piano & synthesizer; Karen (Karmie) Steele, piano; Al Bennett, guitar, bass & tubular bells; Matthew Foulds, drums & percussion
Produced by Al Bennett; Musical arrangements, Al Bennett & Ryan MacNeil; Engineered by Al Strickland at Lakewind Sound, Port Aconi, Cape Breton, NS
Tracks: My Sister Karmie; 74th Higlanders;
Paul Mac’s; Jenny’s Dream; Mary Scott; Our Friend Archie Neil; Breton Batherson
Dancers; Traditional Medley; Brand New Jigs; Brand New Reels
Introduction: Dedication is a powerful tool when put into practice in any field of endeavor. To say someone is a dedicated individual is a great compliment. Jennifer Roland is a young woman who has dedicated her life to music with tremendous vigor. I have known Jennifer since she was a child, even then it was evident that her talent and determination would lead her to a career in music. Despite health problems that kept her doctors busy, to Jennifer’s credit she has never faltered in her desire to achieve success. Love and support are essential in life, and Jennifer is blessed with an abundance from a wonderful family who have always been at the center of her life and music. As you read through the credits on this recording, you will realize that this is a dedication from the heart of a very special person who is ready to take her place among the best of the new crop of talented young Cape Breton fiddlers. Drive’er Jen.
1. My Sister Karmie: My Sister Karmie* / Traditional Irish Jig / Mom’s Jig/ Murray River Bridge jig – This first selection is dedicated to my dear friends, for their wonderful support and encouragement over the years.
2. 74th Highlanders: 74th Highlanders quickstep / The Merry Maid’s Wedding strathspey / Dusky Meadow strathspey / Elizabeth’s Big Coat reel / Andy Renwick’s Ferret / Mrs. MacLeod’s reel – One of the most rewarding aspects of the gift of music is teaching it to others. This set goes to all my students who inspire me to continue to do what I love.
3. Paul Mac’s: Paul Ma’s Clog / Ivy Leaf clog / Silver Speare reel / Homeward Bound reel / Jackie Coleman’s reel / Joey Beaton reel – I dedicated this sweet to the Isaac Walton Killam Hospital. This hospital and its staff are absolutely outstanding. I believe that I would be where I am today if it weren’t for the I.W.K. and all of you who support its telethon each year. I would also like to dedicate this set to all of my doctors and nurses both here in Cape Breton and in Halifax, who have done so much for me throughout my life.
4. Jenny’s Dream slow air – This air was written by my sister Karmie who played piano for this cut (and also cut #7). I fell in love with it as soon as she played it for me. She named it “Jenny’s Dream” and I consider it the theme tune for this album, because this has been a dream of mine since I was very young. It is an honor to have both my sister’s compositions and her accompaniment on this album. I dedicate this tune to my brothers and sisters: Ronnie, Gloria (Glo), Susie, Karen (Karmie), Gary, Kathy, Reggie, Kevin and Roseanne. Each of you are very special to me in your own way. It is wonderful to have so many people to turn to. Thank you all for always being there.
5. Sweet Journey’s: Sweet Journey’s waltz / The Trippers jig / Lost My Love jig / Way To Judique jig – This set is dedicated to the biggest musical influence in my life, my father. He has taught me so much throughout my life. Dad, your love and devotion to this music has inspired me more that you could ever imagine. Thank you or teaching me the true meaning of the ‘give of music’. I know how much you love Sweet Journey’s Dad. This one’s for you.
6. Mary Scott: Mary Scott (Nairn) marching air / Moxha’s Castle strathspey / Duke of Gordon’s Birthday strathspey / Dismissal reel / Children’s reel / Sheehan’s reel – I dedicate this set to my mother, who devoted her time to all my years of lessons, concerts, the medical trips. Mom, thank you for always being there and giving me the extra encouragement that I need.
7. Our Friend Archie Neil slow air – Archie Neil Chisholm was a teacher, storyteller, and a respected exponent of Cape Breton fiddle music. He gave me encouragement as a very young fiddler to pursue the music. He was considered the best friend Cape Breton fiddle music ever had, and it is to his memory that this tune is respectfully dedicated.
8. Breton Batherson Dancers reel* - This is an original tune with a natural dance beat, named after a well-respected dance group with whom I have had the pleasure to perform with many times.
9. Traditional Medley: Glen Tilt Lodge strathspey / Anthony Murray’s strathspey / Put Me in the Big Chest reel / Miss Wedderburn reel / Sandy Cameron’s reel / Harry Bradshaw’s reel – I dedicate this set to the memory of a man who was known to many as the ‘king of Cape Breton fiddle’ Winston ‘Scotty’ Fitzgerald. Winston was no only one of the greatest pioneers of the Cape Breton style fiddle, but also was a tremendous mentor to many fiddlers all over the world. His music continues to influence many young musicians. I am very proud to own and play the violin that Winston used for many of his recordings.
10. Brand New Jigs: Jonathan’s Jig / Noah Buddy’s Jig* / Little Nephew Jessie jig* - I dedicate this set to all my nieces, nephews, and in-laws. It is impossible to mention everyone, but I hold a very special place in my heart for each of you.
11. Brand New Reel: The Forrester Dancers reel* / Laurel’s reel / The MacInnis’ reel* - Looking back, when I was first developing my own style and determination as a young fiddler, there were so many wonderful musicians to admire. We are very fortunate in Cape Breton to have been influenced by so many musicians past and present. I dedicate this set to all the fantastic musicians in Cape Breton who inspire myself and others to play from their hearts.
My Thanks To:
Many thanks to all of you who helped with this project including: Al Bennett, the Producer, who was like an angel over my shoulder, always there to point me in the right direction. Al, your patients, ideas and expertise were greatly appreciated.
To Fred Lavery and Gordie Sampson for providing such an excellent facility and helping to make the recording run as smoothly as it did. It was an honour to have such terrific accompanists play with me on this album. Thanks you Ryan, Karmie, Al, and Matt. Also thanks to the composers.
Special Thanks to Mom and Dad, all of my family and my many special friends. This album would never have happened without all of you. And of course, thank you Dear Lord for the wonderful gift of music and my ability to share it. Every note comes from my heart.
“Music is a very powerful and valuable gift. The gift of music is not just the inclined ability, but the love and appreciation that allows music to reach your soul. Many people have touched me so deeply throughout my life, that I could not think of a better name for my debut recording than Dedication. To all of you who support me, inspire and encourage me and to you who believe in me… this is my dedication to you.”
Old Native And Métis Fiddling in Manitoba, Vol 2, Falcon FP - 287