Released on April 7th, we feature the music and dancing of April Verch and The Newpart.
Fiddler, singer, and stepdancer April Verch knows how relevant an old tune can be. She grew up surrounded by living, breathing roots music—her father’s country band rehearsing in the “Newpart,” the beloved Verch family room; the lively music at church and at community dances; the tunes she rocked out to win fiddle competitions—and decided early she wanted to be a professional musician.
She took that leap, and has been quietly leaping into new, nuanced places for more than two decades. Moving from exuberant stepdancer to fiddle wunderkind and silver-voiced singer, Verch may still spend many a fond hour rehearsing in the Newpart, when at home and not on tour, but like tradition itself, she has never been content to stand still. “When you really know and love this music,” Verch reflects, “you want to go deeper, to bring out new dimensions, without straying too much into novelty.”
The story of how Verch came to be a brilliant interpreter of tradition is just as striking as the results. She’s of a generation far more likely to have spent its formative years taking in MTV than taking part in any sort of traditional music scene, and yet practically from birth she was immersed in folk music and dance from her native Ottawa Valley, a melting pot of Franco-Celtic flavors brought by the hard-working loggers who settled the area. Ferried to dance-filled old-time gatherings and country & western jamborees by her music-loving parents, she followed her older sister into step dancing at age 3, and picked up the fiddle at age 6. She was lucky to have the chance to start studying, performing and competing in both so early, but there’s no question that she also made the most of it.
Says Verch, “I was fortunate to have an opportunity to grow up performing with a lot of people that didn’t make their living playing music, but were the local country music stars. And I remember my parents asking them questions and having them talk to me and tell me how hard it was to have a career in music. I think the reason I did some of the things I did so early on, such as recording my first album at thirteen, was because I thought, ‘I know this is hard, but I’m still going to do this. So I’d better get going.’ In a sense, their way of trying to warn me just made me push all the harder.”