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Fiddle grand master looks forward to live show

DanielGervais Photo

Masha Scheele
reporter@hintonvoice.ca


Life for performing artists has changed a lot over the last couple of months, but Daniel Gervais is looking forward to fiddling in front of a crowd in Hinton this weekend.

“I did a gig last weekend and it was really nice to play with real people, not just playing online. It felt really special so I’m looking forward to it,” he said about his upcoming performance on Oct. 24.

Gervais isn’t new to the Hinton area, he has performed in the community before, he has taken advantage of the Hinton Nordic Centre and its cross country ski trails, and he has also participated in the MS bike tour four times.

He was asked to come teach a fiddle workshop and perform in the community, and he was more than happy to do it.

“It will be a guitar and fiddle duo, so lots of toe tapping and high energy fiddle music, but also stories and jokes,” he said.

Gervais will be accompanied by Chris Tabbert, a talented guitar and mandolin player, and together they plan to sing a few songs and perform in a variety of different ways.

Concert-goers will hear some original compositions by Gervais as well as some of the classics.

In 2016 and 2011, Gervais became the Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Champion and he looks forward to showing off some different music.

“There’s obviously going to be fiddle fans there but some people just get tired of listening to an entire show of fiddling,” he added.

Tabbert will probably do a couple of features, and he also sings, Gervais added.

In any other normal year, he performs up to 150 shows, large and small, but since the pandemic hit, he hasn’t been out much. Luckily for him, he was able to continue teaching music, mostly online.

Gervais currently teaches as sessional faculty at MacEwan University in the jazz and popular music program, but also does private music lessons.

“I still have students in Ontario and Manitoba and then I teach at MacEwan University in the Jazz program, so that’s also mostly online,” he said. 

Most fiddle camps were cancelled this summer, but Gervais took part in a few that were offered online. Before the pandemic, he also performed in schools for kids.

“Teaching kept me afloat. Before, I would teach quite a bit but I was performing a lot. A lot of concerts and gigs, now that kind of flipped. Less performance and more teaching, but it’s really good,” he said.

While much of the country was locked down due to the pandemic this summer, Gervais also composed a little bit of new material and stayed busy with his newborn baby and three kids in online school.

“I have some ideas for projects but it’s not really a good time. And I’m also back in school, taking a degree in education,” he added. He hopes to teach music within schools afterwards.

Gervais was first introduced to the fiddle around a campfire when he was five years old. He was mesmerized and his mother quickly bought him a fiddle.

He now plays a variety of fiddle styles and classical violin.

A teacher travelled to Saint Paul, AB, where he grew up to teach him and later he travelled to Edmonton for classical music lessons.

“It’s my instrument of choice, it’s very expressive,” he added.

He played with the Edmonton Youth Orchestra and went on to create six albums, including three solo albums, and is a founding member of Trad’badour, a French-Canadian duo, with Roger Dallaire and Hot Club Edmonton with guitarist Clinton Pelletier. 

His most recent album called ‘Mostly Original’ includes all his original compositions, except for two tunes.

“The music is, I would call it fiddle style, but also blended with my classical music training,” he said. “A little bit of my personal voice, I would call it post-contemporary fiddling.”

He was inspired to create an album with mostly original music after some people at his shows told him they loved his original compositions and told him he should put them all on an album.

He added, it was also about getting into the studio and being true to himself.

Gervais has performed at the 2012 London Olympics as a cultural ambassador of Alberta and for a reception at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City. 

He toured with Zéphyr, a French-Canadian dance group, performing across North America and France, and has had several television and radio appearances.

Gervais completed a Master of Music degree in classical violin at the University of Alberta studying with Dr. Guillaume Tardif. 

During his studies, he was awarded a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Gervais is offering a fiddle workshop for intermediate fiddlers from 1 pm until 4 pm on Oct. 24, as well as private fiddle lessons. His performance in Hinton on Oct. 24 starts at 7:30 pm upstairs at the Hinton Curling Club. 

Gervais will be accompanied by Chris Tabbert, who is offering a guitar workshop from 1 pm until 4 pm.

Only 48 tickets are for sale in advance of their performance for $25 and are sold in table groups of four for $100 total. The curling rink bar will be open.

Guests will be asked to follow all COVID-19 health guidelines, including wearing a mask until seated at the table.

Message Lois Carnell for more information on tickets or the workshops at brilocarnell@gmail.com, or call 780-865-0979.