Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Thursday, December 9, 2021

"At Manny's Place" and the 1990 Tape now available on Bandcamp

Dear readers,

A while back Brian Morris and I decided we would slowly put up all of Erskine's home recordings on a Bandcamp page for his father. The internet has changed a lot since we started this blog in 2010. For years, I struggled to find a way to share whole albums of Erskine's music online in a playlist-like format. Platforms that seemed like they would be a good fit came and went. But Bandcamp seems to be here to stay and is increasingly popular for independent musicians and producers. All the music will be available for free listening and downloading by but you are welcome to leave a donation if you like. The first two albums - "Fat Molasses" (The 1990 Tape) and "At Manny's Place" - have now been published there for your listening enjoyment.

Manny's barn "At Manny's Place" - Douglastown, Gaspé, 2011.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Green Grow the Rushes - From Alden Patterson and Claude Methé

 Hello everyone,

There's been a tune I've been meaning to share on here for a few years. In 2018, Laura, Brian, and I were in Goderich, Ontario playing at the Celtic music festival and camp where we were showcasing Gaspé Bay fiddle music. We spent the week teaching and performing to a very interested audience of traditional musicians - both beginner to professional. There I met husband-and-wife duo Claude Methé and Dana Whittle from Ste-Béatrix, QC who were also there performing and teaching. We had a lot of fun jamming and it was also a fortunate encounter for our research as well.

While we were talking, Claude brought up an old fiddler named Alden Patterson (1916 - 1989) that he met once in the early 1970s and who was living in Ste-Foy, just outside Quebec City. Alden had originally come from Sandy Beach, Gaspé. As a teenager, Claude had met Alden's two sons, Daniel and Beverley, who were playing guitar around Old Quebec and the three became friends hanging around Old Quebec together. At the time, Claude was early into his interest in the fiddle and managed to acquire a few home recordings of Alden. Although Claude doesn't know what happened to these tapes, he remembers this one tune he learned from Alden's playing called "Green Grow the Rushes." 

Claude played this tune for me to record during our hangout in 2018 so that I could share it on this blog. Have a listen to him playing Alden Patterson's "Green Grow the Rushes."

Claude played this tune often during his stage appearances throughout the week. He also recorded it on a 2000 album with the group Entourloupe. This title is applied to many different melodies in traditional fiddle music but the version here is very Québécois in its structure and phrasing although the melody seems to suggest an Irish polka, perhaps this one bearing the same title.

We don't know much about Alden and where he learned his music yet but if you or anyone you know has any more information, we'd love to hear from you. I want to thank both Claude and Paul Fackler for their contributions to this post.

Enjoy and have a go at learning this delightful melody.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"Airs piqués" - A New Album of Guitar Duets from Guy Bouchard and Mathieu Fournier

Earlier this month I opened my mailbox to find a CD copy of the latest project from Gaspé musicians Guy Bouchard and Mathieu Fournier. Both excellent fiddlers whom I've gotten to know over the years, like Brian and I, they also enjoy playing Gaspesian fiddle music on the guitar in the flatpicking style. Indeed, Brian has always said that this music suits the guitar well and this new album proves just how much this is the case. 

The sonic qualities of Mathieu's lead guitar and Guy's accompaniment, along with their more relaxed tempos, give the listener a more contemplative space to appreciate what I've always considered the enigmatic beauty of these melodies. The older Gaspesian fiddle music doesn't tend to follow the more predictable melodic contours and harmonies of 20th century fiddle music and the two guitars work perfectly to highlight the unusual and unique contours of the music. It was a joy to put this CD on the stereo and get lost in the sounds, expertly recorded, mixed, and mastered by Ike Barsalou in Gaspé. It felt like I was getting to hear this music from somewhere new and fresh and appreciate just how special these old melodies are. 

There are sixteen tracks of guitar duets on this new album. All the selections are drawn from fiddlers around the Coast, much the material learned from various archival collections. In fact, there are a few tunes from Erskine Morris and others that have been mentioned on this blog: Bill Lucas, James Henry Conley, Cyril Devouge, and Tunny Hottot. As well, Guy and Mathieu have also been learning music from other Gaspesian families from the north shore and Baie des Chaleurs region of the Coast: Anglehart, Chouinard, Denis, Francoeur, Keighan, LeBreux, Mimeault, Riffou, and Richard. As such, the CD is also a wonderful cross-section of older Gaspesian fiddle repertoire from a wide swath of different communities across the Coast. The beautiful cover design comes from their friend and fellow musician Eric Bond.

You can listen and download or order this CD on their Bandcamp page.

Here is an interview Mathieu did the other day for Radio Gaspésie where he talks about the project. And here he is on CBC-Radio Canada.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Airs-Mémoire: Traditional Fiddle Tunes from the Tip of the Gaspe Peninsula

I'm happy to announce that the latest edition of the Airs-Mémoire collection of transcriptions is now available for download. This project to preserve these melodies in sheet-music form is a collaboration between musicians France Dupuis (Quebec City) who did the transcriptions and Guy Bouchard (Douglastown) who played the melodies for France and suggested the guitar accompaniment that appears along with the music. I was fortunate to see the beginnings of their collaboration when I was visiting Guy shortly after he moved to Douglastown in 2018; France was visiting at the same time and we all passed many hours jamming on some of these tunes in Guy's living room. We even got to perform them for Bernard and Christina's wedding anniversary party that year!

France and Guy see this collection as "a tangible way to preserve and disseminate tunes from the local oral tradition." The new edition contains 54 traditional tunes from the eastern Gaspe Peninsula, a table of contents, and an appendix of references. 

It is available for download for $18 from France Dupuis' website.

It has been astounding to see so many people helping make this music and Gaspesian musicians better known far and wide. I want to congratulate France and Guy for their ongoing dedication and tireless work with this music.
Porch jam session. The Kennedy Homestead, Douglastown 2018. L to R: Guy Bouchard, Laura Sadowsky, France Dupuis, Glenn Patterson, Brian Fournier, Norma McDonald

Monday, September 14, 2020

Another Tribute to Anthony Drody

Anthony Drody's niece Debbie Sams of Gaspé, a frequent contributor of material for this blog and other projects I do, sent me a video montage she produced paying tribute to her Uncle Anthony upon his passing last December. This montage was used at Anthony's service. It features some beautiful old photographs of Anthony's life and and (mostly) Anthony's music taken from home recordings. I'm even on there playing a half-arsed version of one of Anthony's favourite tunes, "The Four Corners of Saint-Malo."

Enjoy the video. Thank you, Debbie for sharing this with us.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Gaspé Fiddle @ 10 Livestream - Available Online

For those of you who didn't manage to tune in to our 10th anniversary party, we had a wonderful afternoon filled with impassioned performances and touching commentary and testimony. The video can be viewed on the public Facebook page (i.e. you don't need a Facebook account to view it) of a project I'm currently running for the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network. 

Here is the link.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the performers and community members who contributed their time, music, and insights to make this event possible. As well, Vision Gaspé-Percé Now and the Douglas Community Centre; my co-host Laura Risk at University of Toronto for all her help organizing the performers and emceeing with me; Norma McDonald, Gordie and Ernest Drody; and the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network and Canadian Heritage for their financial support.

The performances were as follows:


Glenn Patterson & Brian Morris 

  • Fat Molasses
  • Pearl of the Coast & Fred Kennedy's Tune
  • Roland White's Tune & The Donna Reel


Guy Bouchard et ses amis

  • North Shore of Gaspé; 
  • Laura's Breakdown& Holly's Reel
  • Video: Dance Documentary Teaser


France Dupuis: The Making of Airs-Mémoire (Slideshow with Music)

  • Reel des Colons de Charlie Drody
  • Anthony Drody's Tune & Father Morris' Tune


Norma McDonald: Oral History Interview & Archival Music

  • The Broken Wedding Ring (Norma McDonald)
  • The Road to Boston (Erskine Morris)
  • Mockingbird Hill (Norma McDonald & Glenn Patterson)


Stéphanie Lépine

  • The Bois-Brulé Jig


André Brunet

  • The Little Boy's Reel


Robin Servant: 

  • Erskine Morris' Grondeuse
  • Leslie Devouge's Tune
  • Piss and Keep the Hair Dry (Reggie Rooney's Tune)


Tribute to the Drody Family: Archival Video

  • Joe Drody's Jig (Joseph, Anthony, & Brigid Drody; Laura Risk; Glenn Patterson; Brian Morris)
  • Money Musk (Joseph Drody & Laura Risk; Brigid Drody and Brian Morris; Debbie Sams)
  • The Old Man and Old Woman (Joseph, Brigid, Anthony, and Justin Drody)
  • Tommy Rooney's Jig (Anthony and MaryEllen Drody)
  • The Old Man and the Old Woman (Johnny, Anthony, Brigid, MaryEllen Drody)
  • Rambler's Hornpipe (Johnny, Anthony, Brigid, and MaryEllen Drody)


Lisa Ornstein:

  • Murphy Reel
  • Grandmother's Reel
  • Tommy Rooney's Jig


Ernest Drody: Oral History Interview & Archival Music

  • Silver and Gold Two-Step (Ernest Drody and Glenn Patterson)
  • Flowers of Edinburgh (Charlie Drody)
  • The Cockawee (Ernest Drody and Glenn Patterson)


Alexis Chartrand: 

  • Eva Drody's Tune (Erskine Morris' version)


Paul Fackler: Transcription Project, Discussion and Tunes

  • Belle Kathleen
  • Comparison of Interpretations: The Indian Reel (Soucy, Allard, Devouge, Morris)
  • Mouth of the Tobique


Martin Aucoin:

  • The Cockawee
  • Shannon Reel
  • Erskine Morris' Devil's Dream #2


Pascal Gemme:

  • Reel des Colons de Charlie Drody & The Bois-Brulé Jig


Pria Schwall-Kearney: 

  • Tommy Rooney's Jig


Laura Risk:

  • Father Morris' Tune
  • The Rocky Road to Dublin

Friday, July 24, 2020

August 8, 2020 - Come Celebrate 10 Years of Gaspé Fiddle (Online)

I previously mentioned that it has now been 10 years since we started this blog and, somehow, this music has travelled far and wide and touched the lives of many fiddlers - some as far away as Australia! I also alluded to some happenings we are planning to mark these ten years.

In my current job, I am helping community groups across the province put on events to celebrate their local musical heritage. And so it is with great pleasure to announce that I have teamed up with Vision Gaspé-Percé Now and the Douglas Community Centre to put on an afternoon celebrating these 10 years and the many people involved.

On August 8, 2020, from 1 - 4 pm, we will be live streaming a musical gathering across three countries and two continents, virtually bringing people together who have been involved in helping preserve and share this music during the past few years. You can tune in on any of the the following Facebook pages:

A Different Tune
Vision Gaspé-Percé Now
Douglas Community Centre

Featuring the following performers/speakers:

Guy Bouchard, Matthieu Fournier et l'Orchestre de danse de Douglastown (Douglastown)
Laura Risk (Montreal)
Brian Morris & Glenn Patterson (Montreal)
Lisa Ornstein (Washington State)
Robin Servant (Rimouski, QC)
Paul Fackler (North Carolina)
Martin Aucoin (Beresford, NB/Lévis, QC)
France Dupuis (Quebec City)
André Brunet (Mauricie, QC)
Pascal Gemme (Eastern Townships, QC)
Pria Schwall-Kearney (Australia)
Stéphanie Lepine (Lanaudìere, QC)