Custom Publication of the Bangor Daily News

Franco Fiddle Traditions: Michael Doucet, Daniel Boucher, Don Roy:North American Fiddle Styles

Posted Aug. 20, 2012, at 1:52 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 21, 2012, at 11:32 a.m.

Michael Doucet is a Cajun fiddler, singer and songwriter who founded the Cajun band BeauSoleil from Lafayette, La. Doucet received Grammy Awards in both 1998 and 2009 for work with Beausoleil.

In 2005, Doucet was one of 12 recipients of the National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts. He was named a 2007 USA Collins Family Foundation Fellow and awarded a $50,000 grant by United States Artists, a public charity that supports and promotes the work of American artists. In 2008, he released “From Now On,” his solo Cajun fiddle album, on Smithsonian Folkways.

He learned to play the banjo by age 6 and the guitar by age 8, and researched Cajun music as a college student. In his youth, he performed as part of a duo at a music festival in France where he was exposed to centuries-old French music, which he identified with the Cajun music of French Louisiana.

In 1975, Doucet received a NEA Folk Arts Apprenticeship Grant to study Cajun fiddle styles from masters such as Varise Conner, Hector Duhon, Canray Fontenot, Lionel LeLeux, and Dennis McGee.

Doucet’s individual style incorporated elements of Western swing, 1930’s string band and Creole music, into traditional Cajun music. Doucet learned late 19th century and 20th century tunes passed on by McGee. He revived many the old Cajun songs that had not been recorded and whose musicians of that era were gone.

Daniel Boucher is a dynamic young musician from Bristol, Conn., who plays French Canadian fiddle tunes that he has absorbed from family and community in southern New England and Quebec. Also a fine singer and composer of traditional-style songs, Boucher has revitalized French Canadian folk music in his home state by organizing very popular soirées, dance parties, and seasonal celebrations such as his annual Maple Sugar Party. Boucher has performed with New England-based French Canadian music groups such as Chanterelle and the Beaudoin Family, and with singer Josée Vachon. Performances include the Quebec 400 celebrations in Quebec City in 2008; dance parties at Le Foyer in Pawtucket, R.I.; the Blackstone River Theater also in Pawtucket, R.I.; French Day at the State Capitol in Hartford; and folk festivals in Lowell, Mass. and Bangor, Maine. Boucher’s concerts invite audiences to participate in dancing, call and response singing, or playing the spoons. For this concert he will be joined by his father, Jules, on harmonica, accordion, and limberjack; Ray Pelleier playing guitar and fiddle; and stepdancer/fiddler Glen Bombardier also playing spoons and jaw harp.

Don Roy is a Franco-American ace fiddler who has been called the dean of Franco-American fiddling in Maine. Roy, who also plays guitar, mandolin and banjo, has been playing since age 6. His uncle, Norman Mathieu, taught him to play guitar, and he then accompanied another uncle, Lucien Mathieu, who taught him to play fiddle at age 15.

While growing up in Rockland, he was influenced by fiddlers such as Ben Guillemette, Joe and Gerry Robichaud, and Graham Townsend. The sounds of Quebec, Ireland, Ontario and the Maritime Provinces blend in his style of playing.

Roy learns most of his tunes by ear, although he occasionally thumbs through collections of fiddle tunes. In keeping with Acadian tradition, Roy has been passing along his fiddling heritage to a few private students, as well as a larger workshop at the Center for Cultural Exchange, in Portland.

In 2003, Roy and an apprentice won a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant from the Maine Arts Commission, receiving two traditional arts fellowships for excellence in traditional music.

With pianist/step dancer Cindy Roy and bassist Jay Young, they perform throughout the Eastern states as the Don Roy Trio. In his spare time, Don custom crafts violins and violas.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business