Eddy Arsenault | Bowing Down Home

Eddy Arsenault, 1991

Biography

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 rhyth​mic 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."

Tune Selections

Arsenault, Eddy - Abercarney / Theresa MacLellan's Reel Accompanied by: Eldon MacArthur gtr; Ken Perlman bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Acadian Breakdown Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Brae Reel, The (1992), Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Brae Reel, The (2006) Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Captain Campbell / Mason's Apron Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Chicken Reel Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Dragger's Reel Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Duke of Gordon's Birthday / Sheehan's Reel / Georgina Campbell Accompanied by: Grady Poe, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Four Corners, The Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Green Meadow Reel Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Growling Old Man Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Heather on the Hill Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Herring Reel Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Lime Hill Strathspey / Jack Daniels Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Lord MacDonald's Reel Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Maid Behind the Bar / Robert Stubbert Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Miramichi Fire, The Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Old Man & the Old Woman, The Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Ottawa Valley Reel Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Paddy on the Turnpike (1991) Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Paddy on the Turnpike (2006) Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Pigeon on the Gatepost Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Pride of the Ball Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Princess Reel Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Reel du Pendu / Reel à Cordonnier Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Space Available / Cornelia's Reel Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - Walker Street Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Eddy - West Point Reel Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Tune Selections

Robinson Gathering - Lord MacDonald's Reel Accompanied by: Eldon MacArthur, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo info
Robinson Gathering - Maid Behind the Bar Accompanied by: Eldon MacArthur, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo info
Robinson Gathering - Robinsongathering Reel 1 Accompanied by: Eldon MacArthur, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo info
Robinson Gathering - Walker St. Accompanied by: Eldon MacArthur, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo info

Oral Histories

Discussion of Regional Styles Discussion of regional styles info and transcript
Putting your twist to a tune Putting your own "twist" on a tune; demonstrates tune skeletons vs. fleshed-out versions for Cock of the North, Soldier's Joy info and transcript
V-E Day square dance Fiddling on V.E. Day info and transcript

Video Clips