The Greatest Fiddler You Never Heard of

Aug 06, 2019

Hi! I’m Mitch Reed and welcome to my vlog. It’s been a while since I made a video. I saw a lot of your comments, everybody’s comments about ‘where have you been?’ ‘Was that your last video?’ Sorry about that! It’s just been very busy. I moved up here to Maine. It’s been almost a year and we had a new baby and I got a full-time job working at a music school up here in Yarmouth, Maine. That’s where we’re living now. We also moved again, so in some of the last videos you saw, you probably saw wood paneling in the back and it was an old house on Old Orchard Beach right on the Atlantic Ocean. And now we’re living in Yarmouth, Maine, and in an apartment. Life is good. It’s very good. Just very busy. So, sorry, I haven’t made a video in a while.
But trying to catch up. I appreciate everybody’s comments and interest and all the subscribers out there. And I saw a few of you had made some comments and had questions about a couple of things. So I can’t get to them all, but I’d like to reach out to a few people. A couple of you noticed that the tension in my bow is pretty tight sometimes. And I thought that was interesting. So I was going to say a few things about that. First of all, I have three bows and they’re all kind of different. Some bows you really have to tighten them up to get the right sound that you want out of them. So sometimes it looks like the hair is really far from the stick and it might be. All bows are different. If I’m playing Irish tunes or something, I usually don’t use as much tension as I do playing Cajun music. The reason why is with Cajun music, you’re really digging in a lot. A couple of reasons. One, you’re playing with an accordion. Very often you’re playing with an accordion and accordion players are loud. And so you’re really having to [02:04] dig in. Or if you’re doing a rhythm… [02:07] You know, that kind of style. It’s a very aggressive style, but again, it’s part of Cajun music, but it’s also cause you’re playing with accordions that are louder than a fiddle. So that’s one of the reasons why I’ll tighten up my bow, mainly for that reason.
So those are the two things. Sometimes bows just are different and you have to really tighten them up to get the sound you want. Very often you are digging in more so you are having to kind of tighten the bow up a little bit more than if you played an Irish tune or, or maybe were playing violin, studying classical music, or something like that. The other question I had too was about what kind of tuner I use. In some of the older videos, I used to have a clip on tuner right here and those are the DIA Dario tuners. And I used those for a while and I liked them okay. I think the more stuff you have on your fiddle, the more it mutes it. And I just liked the way the fiddle looks too without anything on it. So that’s why I liked this pickup, too, that I use because it doesn’t have a bunch of stuff clamped onto the fiddle. I truly believe that it resonates better that way. But actually, when I do use a tuner, I use just my iPhone and I have an app called Clear Tune, which I know a lot of people use, so it looks like that. And that’s just on my iPhone and it’s just a tuner that can be used on any instrument at all. So I use it for all the instruments.
So now I’m teaching a lot of different types of instruments at this music school. I’m teaching ukulele, mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and also upright bass. So very busy with that. But still studying a lot of old Cajun tunes, trying to dig up old tunes. I’m all about trying to find some of the old rare stuff. It’s good to know the standards, so definitely learn your standards. But you know, when you’ve been playing Cajun music for 35 years, it gets to where you start wanting to find and learn new tunes and even write new tunes. I’m working on all that stuff, but yeah, so I’ll leave you with a waltz that I found called La Valse du B’Boy Fontenot.
B’Boy Fontenot was a great fiddler. He won the Mamou fiddle contest so many times that they wouldn’t allow him to enter anymore. you don’t really find his name on a lot of recordings. He had a really interesting fiddle. He had these butterflies on his fiddle and he had one here and one here and one here, I believe. And there were just these big butterfly stickers and I thought that was kind of interesting. He also was kind of dark-complected. He had black, black hair. And he’d slicked his hair back with this oil. And he was a very, very nice guy from what everybody said. They liked to drink a lot. And very oftentimes he would, you know, enter the Mamou fiddle contest, go have a few drinks, maybe a few too many, pass out in the back of someone’s car. And he wouldn’t find out he’d won the contest until maybe a couple of days later or something. So he was that kind of fiddling fun, you know. So we’re gonna do a waltz. I’ll do a waltz that somebody, I guess heard him play and just named it after him. It’s called La Valse De B’Boy Fontenot. And he was from Mamou, the greatest town on Earth. La Valse de B’Boy Fontenot… here we go. [06:09]

All right. Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope I can keep pumping out videos and vlogs and y’all keep checking them out. All right. Thank you so much. Stay inspired and keep on fiddlin’!

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