If you like old time fiddle, then a show set for the Royal Canadian Legion Hall in Yorkton should be marked on your calender.
Thursday, Nov. 7, noted Prairie fiddlers JJ Guy and Scott Cornelius will headline a night of fiddle oriented music.
“When the people come to our show they can expect a fun evening full of music from different cultures, with a local and patriotic touch,” said Cornelius a young fiddler with local ties having be born at Roblin, but currently going to school at Yorkton Regional High School. His family farms in the MacNutt, Sk. Area. “Our variety show ranges from traditional music all the way up to what you hear on the radio today. I will be doing some ‘trick fiddling’, and will also sing a few tunes. With an emcee like Jack Dawes to keep the show rolling and some three-fiddle arrangements, along with musicians like JJ Guy, Ken Goodman, Hank Ukrainetz and Kylee Carver, there will be lots of energy and something for everyone.”
While still in high school, Cornelius has been fiddling for years.
“When I was four-years-old I told my great Grandma Laliberte that I would learn to play the fiddle for her,” he said. “At age eight I started taking lessons at the Métis Federation in San Clara. My Grandma did pass away just before I started lessons but I knew she would want me to learn anyways, so I kept it up.”
In terms of music, Cornelius says he has varied stylistic genres he draws from.
“I play all kinds of music ranging from old-time dance music, Celtic, Ukrainian, swing music, Métis music and country music,” he said. “I have recently added some vocals as well. I also write some of my own tunes and have recorded one.”
Like Cornelius, Guy too has multiple musical interests.
“Besides my early influences I mentioned above, Vic Mullen who was a regular on Don Messer’s Jubilee, would stop at our house while touring across the country,” he said. “He showed me very interesting stuff on the fiddle I had never heard before, let alone thought of, and he made me realize for the 1st time it is possible to make a living playing the fiddle! Vic also turned me on to a bluegrass fiddler by the name of Kenny Baker who I started listening to a trying to copy. Up to that point some of my big listening influences had been well known Canadian fiddler like Don Messier, Graham Townsend, all of which I still listen to today. So my fiddle style is Canadian with a touch of bluegrass and western swing.”
Guy, who was born and raised on a farm south of Lintlaw, or north of Invermay Sask. and went to school in Invermay, but now lives in Saskatoon has a longer resume with the fiddle.
“I got my start in music from my early influence’s, which were my older sister and my great uncle Bob, both of whom played the fiddle,” he said. “When I was growing up there were no music teachers around who taught violin so I started off learning by ear and picking up things that other people would show me at different fiddle events that we would go to and also by just listening to hours of fiddle music.”
And Guy’s music has taken him all over the place.
“I have played and taught fiddle in all but three provinces and two territories in Canada, which I am very proud of,” he said. “Being able to record with my fiddle hero Vic Mullen has been a highlight for me, as well as working along side some of the most well know and respected fiddlers in Canada at various workshops and fiddle camps across the country.
“Also being able to make a full time living as a musician is something I’m very proud of as well. Last but not least winning the People’s Choice Award at the Canadian Grandmasters Fiddle Contest was a proud moment for me as well. the contest is by invitation only so just being selected from all the fiddlers in Canada was an honor, but winning the award was extra sweet.”
Cornelius too has traveled a lot with his music.
“I have played in many different places like the Arizona Opry, I opened for Michelle Wright at Back to Batoche Days, I played with the bluegrass band from Tennessee called David Davis and the Warrior River Boys,” he said.
“I tour around throughout the year at various Métis festivals and Jamborees and other venues. I have played at Calgary Stampede and won many awards including Manitoba Fiddle Champion (four-times) in my age category, and People’s Choice Award (three-times) at those championships.
“I also play at numerous local events and fundraisers and do a lot of volunteer work.”