THE April verch band
Bow. Feet. Vox. A trifecta of talent, keeping tradition feisty.
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.
While Verch is perhaps best known for playing traditional fiddle styles from her native Ottawa Valley, Canada, her performances extend into old-time American and Appalachian styles and beyond, for a well-rounded tour-de-force of North Americana sounds. Verch tours with world-class musicians as a trio, featuring acoustic guitar, bass and clawhammer banjo in addition to Verch’s vocals, fiddle and foot percussion.
Now on her milestone 10th album The Newpart (release: April 7, 2015), with producer Casey Driessen, Verch digs deep into songs and tunes from the era before the often-mined mid-century heyday of bluegrass and folk. Harkening back to vaudeville and beyond, Verch and her fellow trio members pare down their arrangements, highlighting the simple pleasures of acoustic instruments, voices, and stepping in intimate conversation.
With ten albums and years of touring under her belt, Verch has moved from upstart prodigy to mature and reflective songwriter, interpreter, and storyteller. One might suspect a performer with as many talents as Verch would pause to take a breath, or need to somewhat compartmentalize her skills during a live performance. But on stage, Verch is almost superhuman, flawlessly intertwining and overlapping different performative elements. She stepdances while fiddling. She sings while stepdancing. Sometimes she sings, steps and fiddles all at once, with apparent ease and precision. Verch is - as they say - a triple threat in performance, her live show a beautiful companion to her music: versatile, robust, and masterfully executed.
Verch keeps the community-fired celebratory side of her music at the forefront, honing a keen awareness of how to engage contemporary listeners. Yet she never forgets the roots of her music, that connection to the people out there in the audience, on the dance floor, to the community sparked by a good song. It’s about doing less to engage more. “I’ve lived with these songs and tunes, and my job is to get out of the way and let them hit the listener. To let them shine on their own and to leave space for interpretation,” Verch muses. “It’s all about touching people, about bringing them together in a community to celebrate music. I’ve understood that better and better as time has passed: how to take this music that is at the center of my life, and make it live and breathe for other people.”