April Verch,
(self-produced, 1998)

If you read my previous review of April Verch's most recent CD, Verchuosity, you know how much I enjoyed this happy young fiddler's work. So I was more than pleased when she sent me an earlier recording, Fiddelicious, to hear the younger April at work.

If I didn't already know how good she was, I still would have approached this CD with a high degree of optimism. Natalie MacMaster, one of my primary idols in the fiddling world, offers high praise on the back cover, and high praise from Natalie is something to ponder. April certainly lives up to it.

Fiddelicious is infused with joy, a tangible pleasure in the act of playing. You can tell that April is deeply in love with her music, so clearly does it ring out in every note.

There's plenty of variety here, too. "Chopman" was written by Verch and Fiona Coll after learning fiddle chopping techniques from Darol Anger. Coll and Casey Driessen add extra fiddle layers to the tune. "Bluebird Waltz," by Evan Price, employs Dave Babcock on saxophone for some great fiddle/sax duets. The Texas traditional tune "Say Old Man" adds a different sort of flair to Verch's Canadian sound. A set of danceable French-Canadian tunes flows into "Golden Memories," a lovely old-time waltz written by Verch for a neighbor's 50th anniversary. "Creaking Tree" is a funky bluegrass tune by Darol Anger. The hymn "Nearer My God to Thee," given a particularly touching treatment here, is a tribute to the fiddler's late grandfather. And Verch demonstrates her stepdancing abilities by providing lively foot-percussion on the final medley of tunes.

That's a sample of the 15 tracks that combine into one great CD. April Verch is a terrific fiddler whose work should be on every fiddle lover's short list.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 9 February 2002

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