Fiddle Verchuoso

[April Verch fiddling–and dancing!–onstage]

Fiddle sensation April Verch will be at the 2007 Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, July 1-8, fiddling, dancing, and teaching. Learn more here or follow the jump to read more about her energetic style and deep repertoire.

When you see twenty-seven year old April Verch perform, the first thing that strikes you is the pure energy that infuses her fiddle playing and stepdancing. When you listen to Take Me Back, her third disc for Rounder Records, though, what draws you in are more subtle things–her confident, winsome singing, the finely detailed elegance of her fiddle phrasing, and the depth of a repertoire that ranges through material from Americana mainstays Buddy and Julie Miller to simple country songs and rollicking tunes from her native Ottawa Valley. Like its predecessors, Take Me Back is rooted in a deep musical tradition, serving notice that April Verch stands on the threshold of a new and exciting stage of her career.

Born, raised, and now living in Pembroke, Ontario, where her family has lived for generations, April grew up in an area with a rich, distinctive musical and stepdancing tradition shaped by the diverse roots of the immigrants drawn to the region’s lumber camps. Emulating her older sister, she began taking stepdancing lessons when she was three, but right from the start, she was drawn to the fiddle, too–though her parents made her wait for three years before giving her a fiddle for her sixth birthday. Her talents in both areas quickly became evident, as she began winning fiddle and dance contests. She also performed with her sister and the Pilatzke brothers as a member of the Dueling Dancers, traditional Ottawa Valley stepdancers.

"By the time I was ten," April recalls, "I knew I wanted to play fiddle and dance for a living." By the time she finished high school, she had recorded her first two self-released albums (Springtime and Fiddle Talk) and was appearing across Canada at concerts, as an invited guest at fiddle contests and as a teacher at fiddle camps, always integrating dance and fiddling into a seamless, dynamic whole. Offered a job with a leading fiddle ensemble after graduation, she opted instead to attend Boston’s Berklee School of Music, where she mastered an array of musical styles. At the same time, she capped her fiddle contest career with a pair of impressive wins, earning the titles of Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion and Canadian Open Fiddle Champion.

By the time Rounder Records’ Ken Irwin spotted her at the annual Folk Alliance conference in 2000, April had matured into a self-assured, vibrant performer. Signed to the label, she released Verchuosity, her first Rounder CD. Earning rave reviews and a Juno ("Canadian Grammy") award nomination, the album also served to introduce her to new audiences in the US, where she has appeared at venues ranging from Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center to bluegrass and folk festivals across the country.

"My dad always says, ‘don’t forget where you came from,’" April Verch is fond of telling audiences at her concerts, and as the music on her new CD shows, it’s clear that her roots still lie at the center of her music.