Extraordinary fiddler leads band on tour with a stop in Grand Forks

By Contributor
January 4th, 2011

Self assured and vibrant performer April Verch brings her virtuosity on the fiddle to Grand Forks as the Boundary District Arts Council’s Performance 2010-2011 concert series continues on Thursday, Jan. 20.  Born, raised and now living in Pembroke, Ontario, in the Ottawa Valley, where her family has lived for generations, Verch grew up in an area with a rich, distinctive musical and step dancing tradition shaped by the diverse roots of immigrants drawn to the region’s lumber camps.  She began taking step dancing 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. “By the time I was ten,” Verch recalls, “that was it – I knew I wanted to play fiddle and dance for a living. I just wasn’t sure how I could do it.”
Her talents in both arenas quickly became evident, as she began winning fiddle and dance contests on her own. By the time she finished high school, she had recorded her first two self-released albums and was touring full time, as well as teaching at fiddle camps, always integrating dance and fiddling into a seamless, dynamic whole. Offered a job with a leading fiddle ensemble after graduation, Verch opted instead to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where she was exposed to – and quickly 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.

Her success and determination to pursue music for a living were such that Verch left Berklee after a year. “I only had enough money to get a two year diploma,” she says with a laugh, “and I knew that if I did that, I’d be starting out with nothing but loans. So I decided to take the money I had saved for my second year and use it to start my career.”

By the time Verch reached her early 20’s, she had matured into a self-assured, vibrant performer. She now has seven albums to her credit, and leads the April Verch Band, featuring world-class musicians Clay Ross on guitar, and Cody Walters on upright-electric bass and banjo. Together, these three passionate musicians tour tirelessly across Canada, the United States, Britain, Europe and Australia. They have established a reputation as consummate performers, winning over audiences not only with sheer virtuosity on their respective instruments, but also with charm, humour and boundless energy on stage. 

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. in Grand Forks Senior Secondary Auditorium. Performance 2010-2011 concert tickets are available in advance at Thistle Pot Gifts and at Gallery 2: Adult $18; Senior $16; Youth $5; Family $45, or at the door: Adult $20; Senior $18; Youth $7; Family $50.   

For more information about the Performance 2010-2011 concert series, please call Erna Gobbett at 442-8569.