tabbed child pages


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.

Sh_8117210-Edit-001e 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.”

In her early teens, Verch found herself at Mark O’Connor’s fiddle camp (to which she later returned as an instructor) rooming with young musicians who strove to become carbon copies of their idols, and learning a lot from the encounter. She remembers, “I asked myself, ‘How are these girls going to do it? They sound exactly like somebody else. How am I going to not sound like somebody from Canada, or somebody that I’m listening to, and make my own sound?’ It was really important at that age to grasp that.”
By the time Verch graduated high school, she’d won the Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship and released a pair of albums, followed by a year at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music and a win at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition, which made her the first woman ever to take both of her country’s two top contests. From there she dove into a full-time music career, signing with Rounder Records for a trio of albums—produced by the likes of Bruce Molsky and Dirk Powell—starting to put her delicate soprano to use and experimenting with a more contemporary palette._DSF0117-Edit-001

Verch looks back on that earlier era with clear-eyed perspective. “I was always true to myself in performing stuff that I liked,” she reflects, “but I think I was also trying to please a lot of people. I mean, we were playing bluegrass festivals, Celtic festivals, folk festivals. And I was just really trying to do everything I could to make sure that this was a career that was going to last. Now I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve realized I’m the one playing the music every night—I’d better love it. And if I’m loving what I’m playing, it’s going to get across no matter what. I think it’s just a part of growing up and realizing that I don’t need to try so hard to please everyone. We are the April Verch Band, and this is what we do.  That’s what people love about us.”

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 upright bass, guitar, clawhammer banjo, mandolin, voices, fiddle, and stepping in intimate conversation. At the heart lie Verch’s delicate voice, energetic footwork, and stunning playing, a trifecta of talents she brings together simultaneously for the first time on stage and on The Newpart. It all works to insist that, “these songs don’t need to be revived,” Verch exclaims. “They are timeless. They are still very much alive and relevant.”

The album’s title pays tribute to a special space in the Verch family home, where old meets new. The house, a one-room schoolhouse her parents attended, received a new addition the same year Verch was born. It was dubbed “The Newpart.” With the exception of the large collection of trophies April and her sister won for their music and dancing, it hasn’t changed much over the years, right down to the 70’s shag carpet. To Verch, it’s the perfect symbol of family, tradition, and music, the things she values most: “It’s the place we gather to jam, to practice songs for family baptisms, funerals, and weddings. It’s where I practiced countless hours and wrote many tunes, including the songs on this album. It’s where we take family pictures, visit and entertain our guests. It’s the most special place in the house, the scene of my most cherished memories.”

Many years ago, Verch was up on stage at the county fiddlers’ monthly dance event in her native Ottawa Valley. She was a darling among the fiddlers there, a cute kid who could play beautifully, and the more seasoned players encouraged her. But April noticed something: “When I played a waltz, even though I had decent tone and technique, the floor didn’t fill up. At the urging of my Dad, I began to listen to the way elder fiddlers played, and watched how, even if they were a little scratchy, they got people dancing.”

Verch marked that lesson well, even as she plays with the tradition she inherited. She keeps the community-fired celebratory side of her music at the forefront, honing a keen awareness of how to engage contemporary listeners. With ten albums and years of touring under her belt, Verch has moved from upstart prodigy to mature and reflective songwriter, interpreter, and storyteller.

_DSF0097-Edit-001Verch’s inspiration often comes from unexpected quarters: the mix made by a dedicated fan or regional music aficionado (how Verch discovered many of great Old-Time American tunes in her repertoire), a field recording played in the tour van that left Verch and her two trio-mates (guitarist Hayes Griffin and banjo/bassist Cody Walters) dumbstruck. The rough blues gems, the ballads with roosters crowing and dinner cooking in the background: Old recordings often touch Verch, Griffin, and Walters profoundly.

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.”

The April Verch Band features world-class musicians Cody Walters on upright-electric bass and banjo, and Lucas Chohany on guitar and mandolin . Together, these three passionate musicians tour tirelessly across Canada, the United States, the U.K., Europe and Australia. They have established a reputation as consummate performers, winning over audiences not only with sheer virtuosity on their respective instruments, but also with charm, humor and boundless energy on stage.

Cody Walters

Cody grew up in rural northeastern Kansas, and started playing upright bass while attending college at the University of Kansas in 1999.  The sound of the instrumentAPRIL VERCH BAND - WDR 3 grabbed hold of him and never let go.  He has since played in various bands, performing different styles of music, from bluegrass to old-time, jazz to Latin, folk and country and most spots in between.  More recently he has added the claw hammer banjo to his roster of talents, adding a melody to the low end of his sound.  His banjo style has quickly become his own and is one of the highlights of an AVB concert, especially for old time fans!  He currently resides in Horse Shoe, North Carolina and has been a member of the April Verch Band since January 2007.

Lucas Chohany

Lucas is a guitarist and educator based in Baltimore, MD. Born in Harrisburg, PA, Lucas began playing the guitar at the age of 12. He attended the Capital Area School For the Arts Charter School where he studied composition and classical guitar.
Lucas Chohany
While attending Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA to earn a degree in biochemistry, he met and performed with jazz percussionist Phil Haynes. This was to be a pivotal mentorship that would begin the development of his unique concept of music education and deepen his love for improvisation.

In 2011 Lucas moved to Baltimore, Maryland and became immersed in the old-time and bluegrass music scenes and quickly became a highly sought-after sideman, performing with artists such as Brad and Ken Kolodner and Patrick McAvinue. Lucas runs Baltimore’s leading bluegrass jam session at Liam Flynn’s Pub in Station North. He joined the April Verch band in 2015.



ThAVB5_PROMO copye April Verch Bigger Band is a natural extension of the full-time trio, adding Ben Winship  on mandolin & bouzouki, and Ivan Rosenberg on dobro & clawhammer banjo.  Add these stellar collaborators to April’s trio and you have as talented, dynamic, creative (and a whole bunch of other adjectives) an ensemble as had ever trod the boards.  Given their deep roots in tradition and their individual expressive abilities, this is an ensemble that celebrates and explores roots music in a most refreshing and respectful way.

How do you know when you’ll hear the AVBB rather than the AVB?  Any AVBB show will be notated as such in the tour dates section of our website.  If it doesn’t say “AVBB” then it’s a trio concert.  Keep an eye out for select AVBB appearances at special concert venues & festivals in the upcoming seasons.

Ivan Rosenberg


With 5 solo albums and many more collaborative projects to his credit, Ivan has gained a dedicated following for his melodic, expressive acoustic music on Dobro and clawhammer banjo. His original songs have appeared in over 300 television programs and films including The Daily Show, Oprah, Call of the Wildman, History Detectives, HBO’s Making Deadwood, the Special Edition DVD of Serenity, and the Hollywood blockbuster Kangaroo Jack. In recent years, Ivan earned an IBMA Award for co-writing the 2009 Song of the Year; played on the Jerry Douglas-produced CD Southern Filibuster: A Tribute to Tut Taylor; engineered and co-produced CDs for top acoustic artists such as Pharis and Jason Romero and John Reischman; and performed with Chris Coole, Chris Jones, and The Foggy Hogtown Boys among others. Ivan is also an expert instructor, having taught a combined 40 weeks at workshops such as Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp, the CBA Music Camp, 108 Mile Cabin Fever, NBCMS Workshop, SoreFingers, the Grand Targhee Music Camp, and the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop (where Ivan was also artistic/program director for 5 years).

2.0.1Ben Winship

Ben is a self taught musician who has been playing mandolin for over 30 years. He is a versatile player who is comfortable with a wide range of styles from bluegrass and old-time, to dixieland and blues. Performance-wise, Ben can most often be found on stage with the New Reeltime Travelers and the Growling Old Men. Over the past 25 years, gigs have taken him everywhere from Hawaii to Shetland, Anchorage to Equator, with appearances along the way at places like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, A Prairie Home Companion, NYC’s Bottom Line and the Vancouver Folk Festival. In addition to playing the mandolin, Ben is also a well respected songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist. The Boston Globe called his sound “A further leap from traditional hill country music.” While Tim O’Brien refers to him as “One of the acoustic music scene’s best writers.” When not performing, he can be found in his studio producing CDs, recording his own music and teaching.










Here’s a clip of the April Verch Bigger Band performing at the renowned folk music venue “The Ark” in Ann Arbor, MI.

YouTube Preview Image

Upcoming shows

See full calendar »



Subscribe to
the newsletter

  • Close