Simon St. Pierre is a fascinating and elusive figure in Maine fiddling, more heard about than actually heard, a north woods lumberjack skilled in an array of music learned in logging bunkhouses. He’ll come to The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in 2014 with his son Daniel, also a lumberjack, who’ll back him up on guitar.
Simon was born in 1930 and reared in a logging community in Quebec. He liked to listen to his father and brother play the fiddle.
“My father loved music with all his heart,” he said, “but he never put much time to it. My father was not a great fiddler, but my older brother was real good. And I learn a lot from him. And he work outside in the woods, and he come every weekend, and when he play that fiddle, it make me so happy. I love it so much. I said to myself, I can’t wait to get old enough, and when I got old enough I try it.”
When he was about 15 years old, he started to play the fiddle, around the time he began working in the lumber camps. Simon spent long winters in the logging bunkhouses of the northern region of the province. Fiddlers from many parts of Canada were employed there, and Simon’s eclectic repertoire began by listening to these players. But his style is grounded in Quebec. He moved to northern Maine in 1957, and in several years he was able to move his family, get a portable sawmill, and make his living from his own sawmill again.
Once Simon gained a reputation at festivals in northern Maine, he was invited to tour, but he soon tired of the hard pace of traveling, and for several years he refused to play much in public.
“I’m a working man. I work every day and when I come home, I’m tired. I don’t like playing my fiddle. Sometimes on the weekend I play a little music. It’s no fun to just play by yourself. You got to have somebody to play with you. Once in a while I play my tunes on the weekend. I’m really a happy man down here in that little corner of the wilderness. I love it.”