Eddy Arsenault | Bowing Down Home
Eddy Arsenault was one of the grand old men of Island fiddling, who created an appealing blend of Evangeline and Cape Breton fiddling styles. He was strongly influenced via radio and live exposure by such Cape Breton fiddlers as Winston Fitzgerald and Angus Chisholm, and his playing combined a complex system of double stops and ornamentation with a highly syncopated rhythmic attack. He did two solo recordings: an LP called Egmont Bay (1981), and a cassette entitled Piling on the Bois Sec (1993); he can also be heard on the CDs House Party Acadien and The Prince Edward Island Style of Fiddling: Fiddlers of Western PEI. His tune The Dragger’s Reel is now widely played throughout the Island.
During World War II, Arsenault drove a supply truck in France. Although he rarely had a chance to play fiddle during the War, fate thrust one in his hands while he was on leave in Glasgow, Scotland during the height of VE-Day celebrations.
Once Eddy learned a tune he often spent years perfecting it and creating his own unique twist, improving the phrases and adding such elements as slurring, ornamentation, and double stops. As he put it, the basic tune is only the shell of the house; his additions represented the paint, woodwork, and filigree.
Both Eddy’s daughter Hélène Arsenault Bergeron (piano) and his son Albert Arsenault (fiddle) were founding members of the touring group Barachois; his son Peter Arsenault has also become a fine fiddler and now often performs regularly in the area.
In July 1992, Elmer Robinson invited Eddy and two other fiddling friends -- Frank O'Connor of Kildare Capes, and Warren Leard of Coleman -- to join in during his recording session. This made not only for a very festive occasion, but allowed us to record some great group fiddling. Some group fiddling recordings made from that session appear below under the titles starting with "Robinson Gathering."