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What the Reviewers Say
VRCD 331 MYLLIE BARRON: FIDDLER ON THE LOOSE
Barron is a quite good 70-odd year old Western fiddler who has put down 16 tunes here, well-played and nicely accompanied by piano and Bass. Another nice Lp from Phil & Vivian Williams' Voyager Label, which continues to do a good job in documenting fiddlers of the West/Northwest. County Sales Newsletter (Lp review, 1982)
Now in his 90's, Manitoba native Myllie Barron is a long-time fiddle champion at competitions throughout western Canada and the northwestern U.S. His distinctively Canadian style is displayed on the 16 tunes on this disc, ranging from jigs and hornpipes to waltzes and schottisches, and the recording quality is up to Voyager's usual high standards. (Sing Out!)
Recorded in 1982, when Barron was 72, Fiddler on the Loose showcases Barron's enduring love of fiddle music. Barron grew up in the Swan River Valley district of Manitoba, listening to his father play fiddle for weddings, parties and schoolhouse dances. Barron's father also repaired fiddles, and when he finished fixing one, he would play a few tunes. "I thought it was the most beautiful, sweetest sound I ever heard," says Barron in the liner notes.
Barron started playing fiddle around the age of 9. When he was 16, he sent for a set of 48 lessons from the Slingerland School of Music in Chicago, which included a violin. Being from a family of ten, Barron confessed that his late night practising nearly drove his folks crazy. His parents often remarked that "he should stop that nonsense and go to bed." He did not listen to their comments, however, and in 1928 bought a fiddle from the T. Eaton Company in Winnipeg for $75. A decade later, from 1938 to 1939, Barron and his brothers had a weekly radio show in Flin Flon, Manitoba. Barron's son Ray, then aged 4, was the vocalist. Barron entered his first fiddle contest at age 39. His late emergence on the scene was no handicap; by the time he was 40, Barron was the Manitoba Fiddle Champion. Barron gave up fiddling for 16 years to work in construction, but quickly got back in the swing of things when he moved to 70 Mile House in B.C. in 1977. In 1982, Barron was the Grand National Senior Champion at the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho.
Fiddler on the Loose features a solid selection of traditional tunes as well as two of Barron's original compositions. The majority of the tunes are jigs, reels and hornpipes, performed at a quick tempo, using short, separate bow strokes. Barron has wonderful tone and nice vibrato, which is especially apparent in the Italian waltz, appropriately called "Vals Italiano"! Barron is accompanied by Vivian Williams on piano and Phil Williams on bass. Both artists provide straightforward, rhythmic playing, complementary to Barron's style. Unfortunately, Barron's pitch is sometimes off; the tuning discrepancies are especially noticeable between the piano and the fiddle at the end of pieces.
Fiddler on the Loose features no-frills fiddling. It is an album full of good tunes that captures the history and spirit of old time music in Western Canada. (Canadian Folk Music Bulletin)
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