Hughie McPhee | Bowing Down Home

Hughie McPhee, 1991

Biography

Hughie McPhee’s family has occupied the same property on the north shore of Northeast Kings County since the late 18th century. His father John J. McPhee was a noted local fiddler. Hughie learned a few tunes on fiddle as a young​ster, but he played mostly guitar until his mid-20s. His parish was hoping to raise money for a new church with a series of benefit dances, but no one in the area was available to play fiddle for them. They asked him to see if he could fill the role. He picked up the instrument again, and found that all the tunes he had heard around the house as a child were instantly available to him. In the late 1970s, both he and his brother Dan were founding members of the Eastern Kings Fiddlers. Since then, most of the new tunes he has learned have emanated from Cape Breton. He had not been playing regularly in the few years prior to the 2006 interview.

McPhee has great stories to tell about many of the tunes in his repertoire. Christy Campbell and the PEI Wedding Reel, for example, were once used in tandem to accompany a special dance that opened Island Wedding festivities. And Toganny’s Reel is said to have come to the North Side in the late 18th century via the intercession of a water sprite.

 

Hear Other Stories.

- McPhee had little use for contests, and even less for contest judges.

- Acquiring a fiddle in wartime Holland

Tune Selections

McPhee, Hughie - Christy Miller Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
info
McPhee, Hughie - Grieg's Pipes Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
info
McPhee, Hughie - HMcphee Reel 1 Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
info
McPhee, Hughie - HMcphee Reel 1 / Fr. Francis Cameron Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
info
McPhee, Hughie - HMcphee Reel 2 Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
info
McPhee, Hughie - John J. McPhee's Reel Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
info
McPhee, Hughie - Lord MacDonald's Reel Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
info
McPhee, Hughie - PEI Wedding Reel Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
info
McPhee, Hughie - Toganny's Reel Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
info

Oral Histories

Forerunners Forerunners: this one is the fellow who hears hammering and nails being pulled; it then turns out the neighbors had to pull out the storm door to use to lay out a body when the grandfather died info and transcript
How McPhee got started Being drafted in his 20s to fiddle for dances at church benefits; got fiddle in Holland during war info and transcript
McPhee, Hughie - Toganny McPhee & the Fairy Toganny at the Well info and transcript
McPhees Immigrate to PEI First of his ancestors to come to PEI got caught in the ice en route to Glengarry Ontario info and transcript
Unqualified Contest Judges Judge incorrectly awarded a prize to the first one who played "on the flats" info and transcript

Video Clips