Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint-Patrick's Day

Happy Saint-Patrick's Day to all our readers from Douglastown, Gaspé, and beyond.  I hope our friends in Douglastown had a nice breakfast at the Community Centre and are enjoying the parade.

In light of the occasion, here is a great medley of reels.

Here is Pat Feeney's and Saint Anne's Reels.

I'm not sure who Pat Feeney was but the tune has some typical Douglastown twists in it.  I couldn't find any other reels by this name on the internet.  Who knows, perhaps its a Douglastown tune.  The Our Gaspe Roots website doesn't have any Feeney's in or around Douglastown.

Erskine changes up the second phrase of Saint Anne's and plays a lovely variation in a lower register which gives the tune a slightly different flavour.  On other recordings, he also plays this phrase the standard way.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Remembering Cyril


A year ago today, we said goodbye to a good friend and lover of fiddle music, Cyril Devouge of L'Anse-á-Brillant, Quebec.

Today, I wanted to share some snippets of a visit Brigid, Brian, and myself had with Cyril for Thanksgiving in October, 2010. We had a nice surprise when we arrived.  Cyril had called up his good friend and outstanding Chateauguay Valley fiddler, Neil MacKay to join us as well as his daughter, Trena Devouge. This was the first time I had met Neil and we have since shared some great times playing music together.  It was also the first time I had met Trena and we've since become friends.  She has helped us out a lot here sending us tunes, pictures, and giving us invaluable info about Gaspesian culture.

Hear Cyril talking about playing with Roland White and Cyril's old horse

Here is Neil playing Cy's favourite tune, the Winter Reel, on my fiddle.

Here is the four of us playing Roland White's tune with Cy joining us on the mouth organ.

On the last tune, we played it in the key of D to match the key of Cy's mouth organ.  On the fiddle, this tune is played in G.

Cy really helped me out with this music and is the person responsible for sorting my bowing out, giving me lots of pointers during our visits. The three clips today really give a sense of what a vibrant character Cy was right up until he was 95. I often think about Cy and his stories and jokes still give me a chuckle whenever I think of them.

Some Videos

Here are some videos from a little concert of Gaspé tunes I played last week at a café in Montreal's NDG neighbourhood.  John Parsons runs a nice monthly coffee house featuring solo performances of three of Montreal's roots musicians.  He has amassed a great collection of videos of Montreal-area musicians on his youtube channel which I encourage you to check out.

It was my first experience playing a show with no accompaniment and I was a little nervous, not knowing how people would respond.  However, once I realized that playing in a solo environment would be the ideal setting to expose people to the older Gaspesian tunes played as it was in the old days, with just the fiddle, I accepted the gig.

I'm still working on learning to clog my feet while I play so you'll have to bear with me and hopefully, tapping my foot on the beat will suffice.  I was really pleased with the positive response of the crowd, most of whom had never heard fiddle played in the old-time solo style before.  A big thanks to John Parsons and his wife Jenny for inviting me to perform and for capturing and editing the video

I was also fortunate to meet a young girl who has been passionately learning the fiddle for the past nine months.  She had seen me play previously at another café and had asked her mother if she could come see the show.  Her name is Stephanie Flowers and she makes an appearance at the end of the third clip.  It was so great to see someone so young who is so enthusiastic about the fiddle and her playing really blew me away.  I have a feeling many fiddle lovers will be hearing a lot more about Stephanie in the years to come.