Fiddlers promise good time
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 10:38 am
The days of barn dances are fading fast but a Calgary music group is doing its best to keep traditional country music alive.
The Prairie Mountain Fiddlers is bringing the fox trot, waltz and polka to stages around Calgary with their next stop being the Red Deer Lake United Church on March 8 at 7:30 p.m.
“We cater to a somewhat older audience that experienced that type of music in earlier years and have gone to country dances where people played country music like the fox trot,” said fiddler Jack Manns.
Manns joined the Prairie Mountain Fiddlers seven years ago, which today boasts more than 50 musicians, and the group includes fiddles, guitars, banjo, keyboard, piano and standup bass.
“A lot of these people, like myself, played as a younger person and then after retiring thought, ‘I really enjoyed that’,” he said.
The Prairie Mountain Fiddlers play up to 50 gigs a year at a variety of venues including Heritage Park, seniors’ residences and birthday parties, said Manns.
Their biggest concert, which brings the majority of their members on stage at once, takes place in Airdrie each spring, said Manns.
“It’s very unusual because we have such a large group,” he said. “Most of the other groups are 10 to 12 people at most.”
It was the fiddlers’ success in Airdrie that gave Manns the idea of arranging a concert south of Calgary.
“All this effort we’ve put into Airdrie why not use the same material for another location?” he said. “I made some inquiries and discovered that Red Deer Lake United Church was a good option for us.”
The Prairie Mountain Fiddlers performed at Red Deer Lake United Church for the first time last year with great success and were invited back this year.
“We had a sellout crowd last year,” he said. “Ticket sales are going very well this year.”
To prepare for these and other concerts Manns said the fiddlers get together once a week in Calgary to practice.
“For some people they just play the way they’ve been playing,” he said. “There are quite a number of people who are taking music lessons. Quite a number of people played all their lives and are quite good.”
As for Manns, being a part of the Prairie Mountain Fiddlers gives him a reason to pick up his fiddle again.
“I just wanted to get back to it again,” he said. “I knew that playing by myself wasn’t going to be much fun.”
Manns finds the Calgary group both welcoming and supportive.
“Playing with a larger group is just a lot of fun,” he said. “You don’t feel the pressure that you would if you were to play alone. If you make a mistake not many people are going to know and you can always look at the person beside you.”
Red Deer Lake United Church administrative coordinator Colleen Micklethwaite said the overwhelming response at the church’s concerts sparked the initiation of the On the Edge Concert Series last fall.
Concert series co-chairman Allan Johnson said the idea is to bring four acts to the stage each year and he is glad to have the Prairie Mountain Fiddlers be among the first groups to perform in the series.
“The Prairie Mountain Fiddlers have been at our facility before and played and we had an excellent response from the surrounding area,” he said. “In our first year as a concert series we brought them back because they are a good draw and a good group.”
Before the fiddlers hit the stage, a supper will be held at 6 p.m. at a cost of $5, Johnson said.
“It’s something we are trying to see when people come on a Friday night do they want to come early and have a supper,” he said. “We are trying to make it enjoyable for everybody.”
Tickets to attend the Prairie Mountain Fiddlers concert cost $20 and can be purchased at www.rdlunitedchurch.org or by calling 256-3181 ext. 5.
Their May 10 concert will feature Longview cowboy poet Doris Daley and Saskatchewan singer and yodeler Eli Barsi.