Veteran fiddler coming home next week

Veteran Canadian fiddle Calvin Vollrath stands outside the Morinville Community Cultural Centre last week. The international performer will be returning to the community where he got his start Apr. 20 – 22. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Veteran Canadian fiddler Calvin Vollrath will be coming back to Morinville Apr. 20-22 for three days of music in a community he once called home. The three-day fiddle fest will include a Dine and Dance Apr. 20, a CD Release Party Apr. 21, and a Fiddle Gala Apr. 22.

A world-class fiddler who represents his province and country internationally, Vollrath said he was looking forward to coming back to the community where it all began.

“When I started in the music business I was 15 years old and living here,” he said, adding his family home was between Morinville and Cardiff. “We were living on the farm when I started my first band called Country Swing.”

That was in 1975. Six years later Vollrath recorded his first album, something he’s continued to do for the past 31 years. The upcoming Morinville show will see the release of his 55th and 56th CDs: the aptly named The Homecoming, and a second release titled Spring Creek. Each year for the past 19 years Vollrath has held a CD release party, always somewhere in the Edmonton area. This time he decided to bring the show home.

“When I heard Morinville built there new centre, I thought wouldn’t it be nice to go home and play,” Vollrath said. “I played lots of the Frontier Days dances. I played lots here. So to come here and do my show here – it really made sense.”

Initially a Saturday night concert to release his newest CD, the event has grown over the years to the point where it is now a three-day event. “Fiddle fans of mine were coming from all across Canada, and so they’d get here on Friday and the show would be Saturday, and then Sunday or Monday they’d go home,” Vollrath explained. “So I started thinking maybe we should be having a Friday night function. We started putting on a Friday night dance and it grew into a nice big thing.”

A few years later and the veteran performer and song writer found more and more people kept coming to the annual event, among them fiddlers from across the country and around the globe. “I thought maybe we should do a show on Sunday and try and feature all of these [fiddlers],” he said, noting there are a large variety of fiddle styles throughout Canada. “It’s not just one style. You get your Cape Breton, your French Canadian, your Metis, your Ukrainian, and the old time, the Don Messer stuff. So we started doing the Sunday show and calling it the Fiddle Gala.”

Those expansions over the years from a CD release concert will all be present in the Apr. 20 – 22 event at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.

It all kicks off Apr. 20 with a Dine and Dance with Vollrath’s Edmonton-based band Country Swing, an homage to his first band that started in Morinville back in 1975. Seven fiddlers will take part in the Sunday afternoon Fiddle Gala with Vollrath, but Saturday night’s CD release show is the big event of the three-day fiddle fest. That’s the night Vollrath and his seven-piece band will break out the tunes on the new releases.

“We kind of emulate a symphony orchestra,” Vollrath said of his band which includes three other fiddlers as well as other instruments. “They’re a little string section, which is something different for a fiddle show. It adds a new special twist to the whole thing.”

Vollrath explained many people equate fiddle music with Turkey in the Straw, but he assures those unfamiliar with his work that the Morinville show is well worth their attendance. “You really don’t have to be a fiddle fan,” he said. “If you like music, I think it’s going to be really good music. Every tune has a story, so you tell a story about where the title comes from.”

The Dine and Dance will take place Apr. 20 at 7:30 p.m., the CD Release Concert Apr. 21 at 7:30 p.m., and the Fiddle Gala Apr. 22 at 2 p.m. All events take place at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Tickets for each of the three events are $30, $25 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the Community Cultural Centre office.

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