Calvin Vollrath in Morinville for two days
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 06:00 am
Calvin Vollrath is a legend in fiddling circles. He picked up the fiddle as a teen, polished his skills to become a national fiddling champion, and now his iconic status is reverberating among younger players.
Vollrath initially grew up on a farm between Morinville and Cardiff. He once again returns to his roots to produce his 21st annual weekend-long Spring Fling from May 23 to May 25.
Held at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre, with its fluid auditorium configuration, it starts off with a Friday night dance followed by two concerts on Saturday and Sunday.
The St. Paul resident plans to release albums 59 and 60 on Saturday with a full support band. The Sunday gala instead is a more casual kitchen-style concert with a family of fellow musicians.
During a telephone interview with the Gazette, Vollrath chuckled at his good fortune at recording so many albums.
“I never would have imagined I would have put out 60 albums. But when I started my home studio in 1992, it really helped me. It afforded me a chance to sit here and record. And with me, composing tunes is a gift.”
Album 59 is The Journey, an 18-track effort that follows the life pilgrimage of a man. Different tracks represent landmark moments such as birth, childhood, the adolescent years, marriage, the real world and the sunset years.
“This is a journey of tunes most people can relate to.”
In album 60, Vollrath presents a more playful, whimsical side of his musicianship.
“These are all the tunes I listened to when I was younger. They’re all non-fiddle tunes like Tom Jones’ Delilah, or the Beatles Yesterday. I’ve recorded Ray Price’s City of Lights and Elvis’ Fools Such as I.”
Spring Fling’s special weekend guest is Byron Berline, 69, an American fiddling icon who influenced generations of fiddlers including Vollrath.
“In the United States he is regarded as a hero to every fiddler that’s younger. He has written some wonderful tunes and recorded in every genre with a lot artists including Bill Monroe, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Emmylou Harris and everybody else.”
“Although he’s not as well known in Canada, he is respected as a fiddling legend. He’s best known for bluegrass, but he’s played country. I believe he was the fellow who discovered Vince Gill and gave him his first spot in a band.”
In helping to create a lush sound for the three-day extravaganza, Vollrath is also bringing in a four-piece string section in addition to musicians Trent Bruner (piano-guitar), Paul Dacier (piano), Jeremy Rusu (accordion-clarinet), Clinton Pelletier (guitar) and Darryl Campbell (pedal steel guitar).
“I really look forward to coming down. I started playing in a band in 1975. I played at the St. Albert Community Hall and the old Club Mocambo. Every time I come down, I feel like I’m coming home and every year I see old friends. What could be better?”