Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Brigid Drody at her home in the Chateauguay Valley of Quebec. Brian and I drove out there on a Saturday and after finally finding her home at the end of a rural sideroad we began what turned out to be an 8 hour session of Gaspé fiddle tunes and stories.
Brigid is the daughter of Joe (Sr) Drody who was somewhat of a mentor to young Erskine, having taught him many of the local Gaspé tunes. Brigid has spent decades playing guitar for old-time fiddlers and is probably one of the finest rhythm guitar players out there. She really knows how to play in the true old-time guitar backup style featuring a heavy use of bass walks which really bring the tunes alive. As well, her timing is rock solid and her playing is never overbearing. To top it all off, Brigid can probably outlast any fiddler in a session and is known to have recently played in a 16 hour fiddle session ending at 7 a.m.!
Her and her husband Jimmy were warm hosts and treated Brian and I to many jokes and stories about old times and people from the Gaspé. My favorite was when we were talking about the tune her Dad and Erskine played (see our earlier post on this tune) called Tommy Rooney's Jig . She was saying that the old-time fiddlers would play this tune so fast for step-dancers that they used to say it would take a spider with forty legs to keep up with Tommy Rooney's Jig!
Brigid and Jimmy's daughter Pearl and her husband also dropped by from down the road to listen to a few tunes. What struck me most about everyone there is that they really had a deep appreciation for the old-time music and would really listen to the tunes even in an informal setting like a kitchen session. This really made me realize that people who listen to and appreciate old-time fiddle music are just as important and vital to keeping this music alive as those who play the music.
I captured some of the tunes we played on my digital recorder and thought I'd share them with our readers. These are all unrehearsed, but I feel really capture the afternoon.
Here is Reel de Pechêur which I learned from the recording of Erskine which was published in a previous post. Brian really goes to town doubling the lead with me in parts of this tune.
Here, Brian and Brigid play a wonderful guitar duo on Listen to the Mockinbird. Check out Brian's amazing cross-picking guitar technique. Really top-notch guitar playing here.
One of the first tunes we played was Erskine's setting of Stirling Castle. I probably should have picked an easier tune so early on but with the help of Brian and Brigid they managed to keep me from going off the rails on this one.
Finally, here we are playing Reggie Rooney's Reel a local Gaspé tune named for a well-loved local step dancer and the subject of a future post. Again, give a close listen to Brian's great lead guitar work. Growing up with this music, he has a instinctive feel for that French Canadian syncopation and double noting that was so prominent in his Dad's playing.