April Verch Quartet at Memorial Hall

Like a breath of fresh Canadian air, 27-year-old April Verch will invigorate you with her energy. See her at 8 p.m., Friday, March 16, at Memorial Hall, 211 N. Main St., for Charlotte’s Web.

Skilled at both fiddle playing and stepdancing, Verch has released her third disc for Rounder Records, Take Me Back. Be entranced by her winsome singing, the detailed elegance of her fiddle phrasing and the depth of a repertoire ranging through material from Americana mainstays Buddy and Julie Miller, to simple country songs and rollicking tunes from her native Ottawa Valley to sparkling original instrumentals.

From Pembroke, Ontario, where her family has lived for generations, Verch grew up with a rich, distinctive musical and stepdancing tradition shaped by the diverse roots of the immigrants drawn to the region’s lumber camps. She began stepdancing lessons at age 3, and fiddle at 6. Her talents in both areas quickly became evident as she began winning fiddle and dance contests on her own, and performing with her sister and the Pilatzke brothers as a member of the Dueling Dancers.

By the time she finished high school, she had recorded her first two self-released albums (Springtime in 1992, Fiddle Talk in 1995) and was appearing across Canada at concerts, fiddle contests, and as a teacher at fiddle camps. Offered a job with a leading fiddle ensemble after graduation, instead she chose to attend Boston’s Berklee School of Music, where she was exposed to—and quickly mastered—an array of musical styles. But financial constraints caused her to pass up a two-year diploma in favor of starting her career. Moving to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, she mixed a growing amount of touring on her own with stints as a member of other groups, including the band of Canadian country music star Tommy Hunter.

Rounder Records’ Ken Irwin spotted her at the annual Folk Alliance conference in 2000 and signed her to the label. Then, she released Verchuosity, her first Rounder CD, almost immediately. Earning rave reviews and a JUNO (“Canadian Grammy”) award nomination, the album also introduced her to new audiences in the U.S., where she has appeared at venues ranging from Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center to bluegrass and folk festivals across the country.

With the release of From Where I Stand in 2003, April added a new dimension to her music, expanding her musical palette with a mixture of original and traditional tunes in French Canadian, Appalachian and Latin-flavored styles—along with a healthy measure of Ottawa Valley material.

Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. Tickets are available at Rockford Area Arts Council, 713 E. State St., 963-6765; The Postal Shoppe, Edgebrook Center, 397-7301 and 2205 S. Perryville, 484-0940; The Kilt & Clover, 1414 N. Main St., 962-5458; or by mail with check and SASE, 10928 N. Main, Rockton, IL 61072. For Web information, call 815-964-2238.

from the issue March 14-20, 2007, issue

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