Gotell, Hugh | Bowing Down Home

Hugh Gotell, 1992

Biography

Hugh Gotell grew up with fiddling in the family. His grandfather Jack Gotell played, as did his father John Charles (b. 1893). When Hugh was young, his father didn’t own a fiddle of his own and had to borrow one in order to perform at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Concerts.

Hugh started playing at about 11, often using a makeshift bow that he carved himself from a scrap of wood and wound with white thread. He played on borrowed fiddles until he was 16; then his father bought him an instrument of his own through Eaton’s Catalog.

Gotell learned his first tunes – such as St. Patrick's Day in the Morning and Wearin' of the Green – by watching his father’s fingers. After that, he added to his repertoire mostly by listening to fiddlers on radio; he also had the opportunity to hear and learn from numerous local players: notably Fred McCullough, George Boudreau, Jack Webster, and Hector MacDonald. When he learned a new tune, Gotell would often dress it up or otherwise change it to suit himself: a process that Islander’s call putting your twist on a tune.

Hugh played frequently for dances and weddings for a few years, but then gave up playing regularly while serving in the military during World War II. He didn’t pick the fiddle up again on a consistent basis until the 1970s.

Another fiddler in the family is Hugh’s younger brother Wilfred Gotell.

Tune Selections

Gotell, Hugh - Dismissal, The Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
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Gotell, Hugh - Kenmure's Awa' Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
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Gotell, Hugh - Maid on the Green Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
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Gotell, Hugh - Sandy MacIntyre's March / Don MacLean's Farewell to Oban Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
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Gotell, Hugh - St. Patrick's Day in the Morning Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
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Gotell, Hugh - Wearin' of the Green Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
info

Oral Histories

Hugh Gotell gets started His father played at St. Patrick's Day Concerts; Hugh got his first fiddle at 16; started playing for dances and weddings but give it up during World War II; picked fiddling up again in 1970s info and transcript
Play it your own way! Play it your own way; the heck with the written notes! info and transcript

Video Clips