Passages and Partings
It’s not news that April Verch is one of the outstanding fiddle players of her generation, and that this Canadian treasure has created a deep discography to go with her years of touring at a high level throughout North America, Europe, with excursions into China and Australia.
However, it is news that Verch and her Kansas-born husband, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Cody Walters, are adding to, and creating new musical tributaries to Verch’s award-winning and critically acclaimed body of work with their debut duo album, Passages and Partings.
Working on a foundation of old-time tunes culled from a variety of sources, a number of new Verch originals are found on Passages and Partings, two standouts being “John and Carol’s Waltz” and “Firewood.” Co-writing was also a key component to the makeup of the album. Verch wrote “Sojourn” with fellow fiddler Betse Ellis who also guests on the track, while “Dear Brother” and the title track were co-written with award-winning tunesmith Jon Weisberger. Two more pieces, “Not To Fall” and “Up In The Ottawa Valley” came out of a song-writing session with activist, singer-songwriter Si Kahn. The multiple combinations of musical ingredients heard on Passages and Partings, showcase Verch and Walters instrumental agility, and talents as vocalists.
For their first recorded venture as a duo, Verch and Walters also drew on the classic country of Hank Williams “Mansion On The Hill”, took inspiration from Bob Carlin’s take of “Ain’t Gonna Get No Supper Here Tonight” and put their spin on the tune, and they also turned on the way back machine to land on a few century old tunes, one being “Horse and Buggy-O” from the book of mountain music pioneer Art Stamper.
Much of this music was recorded during the frustrating times of 2020 and 2021, but a silver lining none-the-less appeared, as Verch and her fiddles, and Walters with his banjo, bass and guitar, were able to devote much of their time to arranging, researching, writing and recording, and with the bonus of ample time to fine tune this collection of 16 tracks.
And Verch and Walters aren’t the only duo stirring the pot on Passages and Partings. The Canadian award-winning duo, Pharis and Jason Romero, also lent their considerable skills and empathetic playing to “Dear Brother” and “Not To Fall.” The aforementioned Ellis, a fierce force on the acoustic music scene, also added her fiddle to “Jawbone” while her duet partner, Clarke Wyatt, is found on the same track injecting his Norman Blake inspired guitar playing into the piece.
Passages and Partings is a new tributary for April Verch and Cody Walters, created during a window of time when collaboration and interaction were altered and supposedly stifled. But perseverance, patience, and inspiration win out, as these two musicians continue to blaze their own path, creating a remarkable musical adventure.
1. Ain’t Gonna Get No Supper Here Tonight
2. Passages and Partings
3. Horse and Buggy-O
4. Dear Brother
6. John and Carol’s Waltz
8. Up In the Ottawa Valley
10. Mansion On the Hill
12. Not To Fall
13. Thomas Fraser Memorial Waltz
14. Shingle the Roof
15. Throw Out the Lifeline
16. Hobb Dye
Produced by April Verch & Cody Walters
April Verch & Cody Walters recorded by April Verch
– Horse Shoe, North Carolina, Apr-Sep 2022
Pharis & Jason Romero recorded by Pharis Romero
– Horsefly, British Columbia, Aug 2022
Betse & Clarke recorded by Clarke Wyatt
– Kansas City, Missouri, Jun 2022
Mixed by Jim Bryson at Fixed Hinge Recording Stittsville, Ontario, Apr-Nov 2022
Mastered by Randy LeRoy at Tonal Park Takoma Park, Maryland, Dec 2022
Original Artwork & Layout by Nico Humby Edmonton, Alberta, Nov-Dec 2022
April Verch: fiddle, lead & harmony vocals
Cody Walters: banjo, guitar, bass, lead & harmony vocals
Pharis Romero: guitar & lead vocals on tracks 2 and 12
Jason Romero: banjo on tracks 2 & 12
Betse Ellis: fiddle on tracks 5 & 11
Clarke Wyatt: guitar on track 5