She sings, dances, plays the fiddle… / by Courtney Devores – Charlotte Observer, November 16, 2008
April Verch is no one-trick pony. Her many YouTube clips bear witness to the Canadian fiddler’s high-energy performances, which combine her singing with award-winning fiddling and step dancing. Verch’s shows come to a head as she leaps into fiddling and dancing simultaneously toward the end of each show.
“It was pretty hard … a gradual process,” Verch says of intertwining her talents, both of which she took up as a small child. “I started with just shuffles. It took a while to add steps, but I was pretty young. When you do things like that when you’re young, it’s easier. You don’t realize you’re doing something so difficult.” She aimed to harness the energy of her live show on her latest album, “Steal the Blue.”
“People really respond to our live show, and I’ve found it a challenge – without doing a live recording – to capture that on a record,” she says. “I also was trying to capture the music that I’m passionate about right now. I wanted it to be material that I wanted to listen to, instead of focusing on what fans wanted to hear. Chances are, if I am passionate about it, that will translate to the fans.”
The 30-year-old Pembroke, Ontario, native collected awards for both dance and fiddle as a child, and recorded two albums before graduating from high school. She left Berklee College of Music in Boston after a year, taking her love of roots and traditional Canadian music (and her newfound knowledge of other styles) on the road.
The first four of her seven albums were instrumental. It was only at the suggestion of Rounder Records that Verch began singing. “They said it would be good variety for (my) shows, and open more doors. That’s what made me give it a go,” she recalls. “At first, it was really hard, because I felt vulnerable. Your feet and your fiddle don’t show if you’re tired or have a cold. My voice gave everything up.”
Given the sweet ring of her voice, the energy and uniqueness of her dancing and live performance, and recent comparisons to fellow fiddlers Natalie McMaster and Alison Krauss, Verch could be headed for the mainstream.
“I don’t think that Alison actually had to change what she loved doing to become mainstream,” Verch says. “A lot of people have to (change). She was able to do what she wanted to do. If it could happen that way for me, and I had people that could help me do that, I would. But I would never change the style I play to reach those markets.”
Although Verch is a fan of both Krauss and McMaster, she doesn’t see many similarities beyond the fact that they’re all females with fiddles. “What I do is really quite different from both of them – especially Natalie,” she says. “She plays the Cape Breton style and I don’t. I play Ottawa Valley style and bluegrass. But it’s cool, because she’s good at what she does.”
Verch has branched out stylistically to include roots, acoustic, Latin, Celtic and jazz over the course of her career. Yet much of her early influence came from the music and dance that is specific to the Ottawa Valley region, where she still lives “one road over from where I was born.” Although her repertoire has expanded, she continues to include those roots in her sets.
“The regional styles aren’t that well-known. There just haven’t been that many people that have traveled or toured. That’s why it’s important for me to include the Ottawa Valley style – at least one song – when I play, so people get a taste for it,” she says.
Folk sensation (finally!) makes it to Queen City / by Sean O’Connell – Charlotte Weekly, November 21, 2008
The consensus of opinion on Canadian folk musician April Verch seems to be that you need to see her live.
“Earlier this year I attended an April Verch concert and was totally blown away,” said Wanda Hubicki, editor and publicist for the Charlotte Folk Society. It’s a sentiment echoed in articles and reviews penned about Verch and her music. Until now, though, Charlotte folk music fans had to travel to realize that dream.
“We’ve only really been in North Carolina once or twice in the past. We’ve really wanted to play in Charlotte, but the last time we came through, it just didn’t work out,” Verch said.
With Hubicki’s help, those schedules have since been straightened out. The Charlotte Folk Society will sponsor Verch’s first concert in the Queen City. It will be held Friday, Nov. 21, at the Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Ave. “She is extraordinarily accomplished as a fiddler, stepdancer and singer,” Hubicki said. “But what makes her truly unforgettable is the obvious joy which she derives from the music and she so readily shares with her audience.”
Kennebec Journal (Maine) / CD review, Concert preview, November 6, 2008
April Verch just released her latest CD, “Steal The Blue,” on Slab Town Records and it would remind you a lot of a cross between Alison Krauss and Natalie MacMaster — with the former’s fantastic pure, sweet voice and the latter’s fiddling and step dancing prowess. But Verch is her own person and the sound present on this CD is a delightful mélange of folk, jazz, old-time, roots and bluegrass music served up by a talented ensemble of backing musicians, including several members of her touring band: Husband Marc Bru on percussion and Cody Walters on upright-electric bass. (The other member of the band is guitarist Lincoln Meyers, by the way.) This Canadian performer is a JUNO nominated artist as well as being the first and only woman to win both the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion and the Canadian Open Fiddle Champion titles. She’s also a champion Ottawa Valley step dancer.
Bowfire members display broad range of string talents / by Garaud MacTaggart, October 22, 2008
…The real hits, though, came from the Celtic-influenced musicians, Trottier, Shane Cook and April Verch. Trottier sang a few tunes, in addition to playing her instrument and along with Verch did some quick step-dancing moves. Verch was particularly talented in this regard, playing like a dervish while moving her feet in a blur and tapping out rhythms with an alacrity that “verged” on the miraculous. She also got the single biggest moment of applause…
Stacy’s Music Row Report / by Stacy Harris, October 18, 2008, April Verch – Steal The Blue, Rating ****1/2
April Verch is the total package: a triple-threat singer, songwriter and fiddler. Steal the Blue provides a dozen examples of bluegrass bliss, complete with occasional assists from Randy Kohrs, Sam Bush and Travis Book. Best vocal tracks are Slip Away (with a message best appreciated by those who have figured out how to live in the present), You Hurt Me All Over Again and He’s Holding on to Me. April’s fiddling finesse highlights the instrumental selections My Friend Craig, Fork Creek River and Independence. Some People may not be the song LeAnn Rimes, Kenny Chesney and Cliff Richard fans expect to hear, but this different song with the same title may appeal to them anyway. The lyrically-quirky I Might Have One Too should be singled out for special merit, along with the clog-danceable Reels Tadoussac et Lindbergh.
On the Edge of the World of Bluegrass / by Barry Mazor, October 13, 2008
IBMA Fan Fest features a “Roots And Branches” stage that’s home to acts who have bluegrass ties but also have other fish to fry – mainly old-time country and folk fish. Canadian April Verch , who mixes fine fiddling, aggressive country dancing and dry wit to a point where I want to call her a new-gen vaudevillian, not only brought a rare drummer to the festival, but a drummer who could take a hot solo and compete with her in a clog-vs.-drum cutting contrast.
Fiddle Playing Dynamo at Canal Street / by Don Thrasher, October 3, 2008
April Verch is a stepdancing, fiddle-playing dynamo. The native of Pembroke, Ontario – who performs at Canal Street Tavern on Friday, Oct. 10 – whips crowds into a fury with her high-speed footwork, angelic voice and stunning musicianship. Here’s a quick tutorial on this effervescent performer from the Great White North.
Can you say prodigy? | Verch was in grade school when she began winning awards for her dancing and fiddle playing. She released two solo albums, “Springtime” (1992) and “Fiddle Talk” (1995), before graduating from high school.
Quick study | Low on funds, Verch left the prestigious Berklee College of Music after one year. She relocated to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and turned her attention to performing full time. In 2000, she signed with Rounder Records and released “Verchuosity,” the first of three albums for the venerable roots music label.
Year of firsts | “Steal the Blue,” Verch’s first album for Slab Town Records, was released in early September. The release also was the first to feature her touring band Lincoln Meyers (guitar), Cody Walters (upright electric bass) and Marc Bru (percussion).
April Verch and friends pack the house at Arts Center / by Natalie Keaton, January 26, 2008
Canadian fiddler, dancer and singer April Verch performed last Friday in Marshall drawing the largest crowd yet at the Arts Center. With contagious energy and a side of comedic flare, Verch and her band had the audience on their feet more than once, and the room vibrating with toes tapping, hands clapping.
Verch, who has won numerous awards and has a new release coming out soon, had concert-goers lining up on the street an hour before the show. “It’s a real coup, I think, that we got her here instead of Asheville” said Arts Council director Rod Bowling proudly. “We like to go to new places and to return where we’ve been well received”, said Verch. Infused with both Canadian and Appalachian influences, her fiddle playing and vocals are a sweet mix of old and new.
Verch has said that her father always reminds her not to forget where she came from, and for her that means playing the music she knows and loves with pride and always acknowledging its heritage.