Put on your Bluegrass shoes for April Verch

At 10-years-old April Verch knew she wanted to play the fiddle and stepdance for a living. She won fiddle and dance contests, and completed her first two records by the time she finished high school. The Pembroke, Ontario native is the first woman to win both the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle and the Canadian Open Fiddle Championships, and she had the honor of performing at the 2010 Winter Olympic games last February in Vancouver. Verch’s seventh release, “Steal the Blue,” is a compelling mix of bluegrass, newgrass, and country music, featuring her touring band—NY-based Clay Ross on guitar, MA-based Cody Walters on upright-electric bass/banjo, and Verch on fiddle and vocals—for the authentic, live sound her fans desire.

“My musical influences are constantly changing,” notes Verch, who resembles a young Laura Linney. “Growing up, I was influenced tremendously by local fiddlers I knew in the Ottawa Valley. Since then, I seem to have favorite musicians who cycle in and out of my life. Whether we play a Canadian, a Bluegrass or an Old-Time tune, or something with a more Latin feel, we hope that it sounds like ‘us.’ We respect the roots of the tradition the tune is coming from but it doesn’t sound like we’re trying to be natives of that tradition, rather that we’re doing it our way.”

On her latest effort, Verch successfully tackles eight songs with vocals, which is a change for someone used to performing instrumentals. But “Steal the Blue,” which was recorded in Nashville, also features four instrumentals, including original, “Independence, VA,” with its old-time sound that takes her back to that little town in the mountains where “the gorgeous scenery and the people touched [her] musically.” When the band tears into songs like “Fork Creek River” or the traditional, “”Reels Tadoussac et Lindbergh,” you can expect Verch to stepdance her heart out in the tradition of the Ottawa Valley—incorporating tap dancing, Irish hard shoe, and clogging, for a rollicking good time.

“We’re really looking forward to performing for the FMSH,” says Verch, who can play the fiddle and dance at the same time. “Folk music gigs are among our favorites because the people who come are there to listen and participate. They’re knowledgeable and appreciative, and it’s an honor to share our music with an audience like that. Those nights can be really magical.”

Check out April Verch and her band at the Folk Music Society of Huntington on Saturday, November 6th at 7:30pm. info@nullfmshny.org ; http://www.aprilverch.com

lisa heffernan

Lisa Heffernan received a master’s in Communications from Emerson College before moving to New York. She has worked for publications such as: Details, Nylon, Rolling Stone, Time Out, Newport Mercury, American Songwriter and W magazine.