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For over two decades, fiddler, singer-songwriter and step dancer April Verch has been recording and captivating listeners worldwide. The Ottawa Valley native has garnered praise from music’s heavy hitters including NPR, Rolling Stone, No Depression and more, for her fresh and feisty approach to deep North Americana. Verch’s signature sound blends together regional Canadian, American old-time, bluegrass, country and Americana, resulting in a well-rounded tour-de-force of traditional sounds. On stage is where her diverse repertoire comes to life, with a presence that is versatile, robust, and masterfully executed. Her delicate voice, energetic footwork and stunning playing have brought her to stages across the globe, wowing audiences with her jaw-dropping performance. Verch’s ability to preserve the authentic folk traditions of the past and reintroduce them into the musical landscape of the present is a testament to her masterful musicianship and widespread appeal.
On April 12, 2019, Verch released her twelfth album entitled Once A Day via Slabtown Records. On this newest recording, Verch pays a heartfelt homage to 1950s and 60s classic country—a sound that may be surprising to some fans, but is integral to her musicality. Verch herself handpicked the record’s fifteen tracks, breathing life back into some of the most treasured tunes in traditional North Americana. April’s charmingly honeyed vocals pair flawlessly with the illustrious Southern grit of a masterful cast of some of Country Music’s most esteemed veterans. The album’s diversity can be felt both sonically and emotionally, ranging from moments of reflection and introspection to soul-baring honesty, all the while painting a comprehensive portrait of the musical landscape of the time.
Recorded in Nashville by Bil VornDick and produced by Doug Cox, Once A Day features the talents of country veterans including steel guitarist Al Perkins (Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris), guitarist Redd Volkaert (Merle Haggard) and fiddler Kenny Sears (Mel Tillis, Grand Ole Opry). From the title track, a hit single for Connie Smith, to Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” and Webb Pierce’s “You’re Not Mine Anymore,” the album is a dynamic crash course in one of Country Music’s most influential time periods. Her admiration for these musicians and this iconic era is evident from start to finish. Void of contemporary gimmicks and over-production, Verch revels in the history and lets the music speak for itself.
“In many ways, making this album was not a choice. It was something I felt I had to do. It has been more daunting than any other project I’ve embarked on, because these songs, these artists, the history of this music matters to me on the deepest level. It is a love letter and a thank you letter in one, to the artists, songwriters, musicians, and industry professionals who created, perhaps in some cases without even realizing it, an era of music that speaks to me in a way that no other music does. If someone hears a song on this album and that prompts them to look up and love the original that will be the highest compliment I could receive,” explains Verch.
Verch began her full time touring career in 2000 and has performed around the world, including festival, theatre and performing arts centre appearances in Canada, USA, China, Australia, United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates. She also presents workshops, master classes, and lectures as part of her tours and at selected music camps.
Verch won’t be the one to tell you about her championship titles, nominations, and awards, or the fact that she was one of 6 fiddlers who represented the Canadian fiddle tradition to the world at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, as part of a segment called “Fiddle Nation”. Instead, in speaking with her, you’ll hear about how passionate she is about sharing her music; in small gatherings in remote communities in Iqaluit, to large prestigious concert halls like Mozartsal in Vienna.
Even as she plays with the tradition she inherited, Verch keeps the community-fired celebratory side of her music at the forefront, honing a keen awareness of how to engage contemporary listeners. It’s why Rolling Stone cited her “One of the 12 best things we saw at MerleFest in 2016.”
“Just as contemporary bluegrass has Alison Krauss as an ambassador, the Ottawa Valley has April Verch,” said NPR’s Marco Werman on “The World.” And 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 joining together to celebrate everyday life, through music. We’re all in this together.”
The April Verch Band features world-class musicians Cody Walters on upright-electric bass and banjo, and Alex Rubin on guitar and mandolin . Together, these three passionate musicians tour tirelessly across Canada, the United States, the U.K., Europe, Australia & China. 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 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 instrument 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.
Alex is a Boston-based guitarist and educator. At the age of 17, Alex turned his musical interests from classical violin to bluegrass guitar, and has yet to reconsider. After completing an undergraduate biology degree at Cornell University in 2011, he returned to the vibrant Boston music bluegrass scene, studying privately with Berklee professor John McGann. In 2014, Alex started the folk duo, No Bones About It, with banjoist BB Bowness. Together they have performed around the northeast, including performances at the Freshgrass Music Festival and Club Passim, as well as completing a country-wide tour of New Zealand. Alex proudly joined the April Verch Band in March 2016.
Joe Newberry grew up in a family full of singers and dancers. He took up the guitar and banjo as a teenager and learned fiddle tunes from great Missouri fiddlers. April Verch grew up listening to her Dad’s country band play for dances in the Ottawa Valley. She started step dancing at age three and fiddling at age six. Both Newberry & Verch became masters of their traditions and tour the world with their respective bands and projects. Yet they never forget the roots of their music, that connection to the people in the audience, on the dance floor, to the community sparked by a good song. For these veteran performers who come from distinct traditions and parts of the world, their collaboration is fueled by their kindred passion for bringing people together to celebrate traditional music. Blues and ballads stem into Canadian regional styles and originals. Their voices blend in harmony, their tasteful instrumentals prove that these masters have nothing left to prove, and then their feet kick up the dust in perfect rhythm…and together, they make you remember why this music existed in the first place.
Joe Newberry is a Missouri native and North Carolina transplant who has played music most of his life. A frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, Joe performs in a duo with Mike Compton, and also performs with guitarist Jon Shain. Another special side project pairs Joe with old-time music legends Bill Hicks, Mike Craver, and Jim Watson. He was recently a featured singer on the Transatlantic Sessions tour of the United Kingdom with fiddler Aly Bain and Dobro master Jerry Douglas, along with an all-star band and fellow singers Rhiannon Giddens, the Milk Carton Kids, Carla Dillon, and Karen Matheson.
A noted teacher of traditional music and song, Joe has taught at numerous camps and festivals, including Ashokan, Pinewoods Camp, Vocal Week and Old-Time Week at the Augusta Heritage Center, the Australia National Folk Festival, the Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week, and the Bluff Country Gathering. He was for many years the coordinator of Old-Time Week at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV. He won the songwriting prize for Gospel Recorded Performance at the 2012 IBMA Awards for his song Singing As We Rise, and was co-writer, with Eric Gibson, of the 2013 IBMA Song of the Year for They Called It Music.
Joe came to North Carolina as a young man and quickly became an anchor of the incredible music scene in the state. Still going strong more than 30 years later, he writes songs that consistently show up on Bluegrass charts, does solo and studio work, and plays and teaches at festivals and workshops in North America and abroad.
Fiddler, singer, and stepdancer April Verch knows how relevant an old tune can be. She grew up surrounded by living, breathing roots music and decided early she wanted to be a professional musician.
She 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 keeps the community-fired celebratory side of her music at the forefront, honing a keen awareness of how to engage contemporary listeners.
With countless awards, ten albums and sixteen years of touring under her belt with “The April Verch Band”, Verch has moved from upstart prodigy to mature and reflective songwriter, interpreter, and storyteller. She has performed around the world, including festival, theatre and performing arts centre appearances in Canada, USA, China, Australia, United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany, Austria, France, Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates. Passionate about giving back, she makes master classes, workshops and camps a regular part of her touring activity. Verch was one of 6 fiddlers who represented the Canadian fiddle tradition to the world at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, as part of a segment called “Fiddle Nation”.
Check out tour dates to find out when they’ll be near you! (Look for the tour dates marked ***Newberry & Verch)
Check out this great video of Joe & April performing the title track of their debut release “Going Home” in Sheffield, UK, and then find more great videos on their YouTube Playlist!
The Heritage Projekt combines the talents of two celebrated bands; Curly Strings, a four-piece from Estonia, and the April Verch Band, a trio lead by Ottawa Valley (Ontario, Canada) native, April Verch. The beginnings of this collaboration were simple. A mutual respect for each others music, a couple of brief chance meetings, and most importantly, the discovery of their mutual passion for the early traditional music of their homelands.
The set list for The Heritage Projekt begins by presenting the oldest form of music from both bands’ traditions, builds into medleys that highlight songs and tunes from Estonia and the Ottawa Valley that sound like long-lost cousins, then melds into selections both bands have composed together that fit within these traditions. It’s a journey of their roots and influences from history into present day. It is an opportunity to preserve and continue this heritage music all at once.
Both bands grew up rooted in the music of their specific region, honed their musicianship, and began to draw inspiration from other sources in forging their own brand of roots music. For Curly Strings that included blending inspiration from American bluegrass with their Estonian cultural space, and for the April Verch Band, fusing Old Time American, Scandinavian and classic country influences with regional Canadian styles.
While standing in a long line together at a burger joint in New York City, the bands entered into deep discussions and comparisons about their homelands and musical traditions, and quickly discovered that they had a lot in common. Both Estonian and Ottawa Valley traditional music styles grew out of a mixed pot of cultures and people, and included dance music from the various immigrants who settled in each location. A question emerged amongst these young musicians from opposite sides of the globe. What would a collaboration sound like that honored these timeless traditions and celebrated the common ground of these unique ethnic styles? Thus began, The Heritage Projekt.
This partnership is also an opportunity for both bands to revisit the roots that their music comes from, without concerns for having it fit their current band sound. Eeva Talsi of Curly Strings says “it’s something that both our bands have wanted to do for some time, and it’s been even more fun and exciting to do it as a team.” April Verch agrees, “by combining our efforts, we’re able to present our ethnic styles to each other, and to more and different parts of the world than we would be able to just on our own.”
Following their three week debut tour (July 2019) book ended with appearances at Kaustinen Folk Music Festival (Finland) and Viljandi Folk Music Festival (Estonia) and a Canadian debut at La Grande Rencontre (Montreal, September, 2019) this new collaboration has already found a place in the hearts of audiences around the world and is in great demand to continue their blend of traditional and original material on the international stage.