by Stephen Dafoe
Locally raised fiddling champion Calvin Vollrath returns to the Morinville Community Culture Centre for three performances May 27, 28, and 29. His fifth straight year playing the venue kicks off on the Friday with a dine and dance event. Saturday will see Vollrath’s annual CD release concert takes place, and Sunday afternoon features the Fiddle Gala his fans have come to expect.
As has been the case whenever the Grand Master comes to town, a geographically diverse audience follows.
“People come for this. Every year we get people from the Yukon to Nova Scotia to Oregon to Idaho,” Vollrath said, adding this year’s Morinville run will include special guests Doug Leahy and the Next Generation Leahy, a talented and well-known fiddling family from Ontario.
Saturday night’s CD Release Concert will include Vollrath playing a selection from his three new CDs: Fiddle Lickin’ Good, A Fiddle of This, and a Fiddle of That, and TGIF (Thank God It’s Fiddle).
“We were very busy last year. We played more shows and we travelled right from California from Cape Breton playing music,” Vollrath said. “We played lots of festivals in Alberta and all across the country. When you get to hear all the different music, you get inspired.”
There is more to Vollrath’s inspirational flow than a big year of playing festivals. A long life of playing Fiddle music that began with his first band at age 15 when he lived on a farm along Cardiff Road has provided the Grand Master with a wealth of experiences to draw upon when writing a new tune for his beloved instrument.
“We played all over here. We played all the communities around here,” Vollrath said of the early days. “It was live music. There were no DJs. We used to play in the parade. It was a huge parade, and we’d play the dances after for the Frontier Days.”
But wherever he played, the fiddle was in the band. For Vollrath, the fiddle has a universal appeal.
“People love the sound of a fiddle. They love the sound of a violin as well,” he said. “The music I play is lively. It’s happy. There’re lots of emotions in it. Times have changed. Back in the old days, there were lots of house parties, and there were lots of local bands that had fiddle players. Now there are lots of DJs. It’s not so out in the public anymore, this style of music. So whenever we go out and play, I think it takes the people back.”
Though Vollrath’s crowd is typically an older crowd, the performer said the younger audience members who come to the shows also have a great time.
Vollrath’s music reached a diverse demographic in 2010 when he was contacted and contracted to compose music for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. That music was put together in the many forms fiddle music is played across the country.
“Canada is so vast. We’ve got the Cape Breton style. We’ve got the Don Messer style. We’ve got the Old Time style. We’ve got the Metis style, the Ukranian style, the Bluegrass style. It goes on and on. I was honoured and tickled when they asked me to compose music that represented Canada.”
Locals will have the opportunity to see Vollrath and his guests May 27 to 29. Tickets for the Friday night Dine and Dance are $45, $40 for Saturday’s CD release event, and $30 for Sunday’s fiddle gala. They can be purchased at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre box office during business hours or online at www.calvinvollrath.com/vollmart.
Vollrath will be back in Morinville this summer when the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship comes to town in August.