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 (and the title of her milestone 10th recording); 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."
April Verch began her full time touring career in 2000 and tours approximately 250 days per year. She has performed around the world, including festival, theatre and performing arts centre appearances in Canada, USA, China, Australia, United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany, Austria, France, Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates. Verch was one of 6 fiddlers who represented the Canadian fiddle tradition to the world at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, as part of a segment called "Fiddle Nation".
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, mandolin, bass and clawhammer banjo in addition to Verch's vocals, fiddle and foot percussion.
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.
Yet Verch 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."