Fiddler April Verch dubs her style “North Americana with a little bit of world music” and blends several genres of folk music to create a truly unique sound.
“It’s roots music but from a few different geographical areas. I grew up in the Ottawa Valley in Canada, so that was sort of my background. Cody (Walters, bass) and Hayes (Griffin, guitar) grew up playing old-time American and bluegrass music. And, we like, more than just that, western swing, some Swedish folk music. We kind of incorporate a bunch of different things.”
The accomplished musician and world champion fiddle player won the 1997 Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship and the 1998 Canadian Open Fiddle Championship, and will return to State College for an evening with the Acoustic Brew concert series.
Verch’s unique style is due in large part to her humble idols in the music business. From an early age, Verch was playing with local musicians who taught her the value of hard work and passion for music.
“The people that I grew up with in the Ottawa Valley ... were local musicians who played on weekends and had day jobs and they’re not household names,” she said. “They were the people that I looked up to, and they encouraged me. They were a big influence on me early on. Nowadays I think our influences change quite a bit from month to month. We’re traveling more and being inspired by new people all the time. We’re lucky to be able to hear so many new things. We haven’t taken the approach of just sticking to one thing. We sort of go with whatever strikes us and speaks to us. I feel like that’s what translates best on stage: if we’re playing what we really love.”
Verch’s 10th album “The Newpart,” was released earlier this month.
She fondly recalls her last trip to State College, but hopes to make better time getting in this time around.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” she said. “I remember (the last time) well. I remember getting caught in traffic because of a (football) game.”
While Verch may still be singing, shredding the fiddle and dancing up a storm, her act will be different this time around.
“I think one of the things that has stayed the same since then is that I was playing a large variety already,” she said. “I think the variety of what’s included in the repertoire now is different. This is a different band. Last time was a four-piece and the configuration was a little bit different. I think I’ve matured as an artist, and maybe that’s cliche to say, but you get better and you learn and you get to know yourself better. Ten years ago I was still sort of worrying about trying to please people, trying to make sure I had a little bit of this and a little bit of that so that none of the audiences would feel alienated. I worry a little less about that and just try to make sure we’re playing what we feel strongly about.”
Life on the road has become commonplace for Verch and her traveling band. She says that even though she’s a master traveler, touring life can still get difficult.
“I’m used to being somewhere else all the time, but it does get straining,” she said. “You kind of fall into a routine of not having a routine. You just go with what works and how to make it work for you. While it’s still difficult, I think I’ve gotten better at it.”
In addition to being a world champion fiddler and dynamic singer, she is also a renowned step dancer, which she incorporates into her performances. But she said she believes it’s the honesty and true love of music that sets her band apart from other acts.
“We are really honest and sincere about what we do,” Verch said. “I think that getting together to celebrate live music is one of the last forms of community gathering that’s left. It’s really important. Also, I think we have a really good variety that’s appealing to music fans of different genres, and even if people aren’t really sure what to expect, I can pretty much guarantee that there’s a part of the show they’re going to like.”