Carl Webster | Bowing Down Home

Carl Webster at Kilmuir party, 1992

Biography

Carl and Jackie Webster are brothers; their father was Jack Webster, one of the great fiddlers of the central and southern Kings Couny regions area from the 1930s through the 1960s into the 70s. When they were growing up, Jack was out playing at area dance halls several nights a week and people often dropped by in hopes that he would play for them. Jack achieved brilliant tone and a rhythmically compelling style despite only having the use of three left hand fingers.

The two brothers didn't get much encouragement to play fiddle during childhood, and both of them started relatively late: Jackie in his mid-teens and Carl in his late 20s. They had many of Jack’s tunes in their heads of course, but a lot of their more recent repertoire came from listening to radio broadcasts and recordings of Cape Breton fiddlers: most notably those of Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald.

During the 1950s, Jackie played frequently at local house parties and sometimes filled in for his father at dances when the latter took sick. When he got a permanent job on the Bordon-Cape Tormentine ferry, however, his hectic schedule left him little time or inclination to play. As he approached retirement in the late 1980s, however, he began playing much more regularly. Soon Carl and Jackie (who live directly across the road from each other) started meeting regularly to play, both for their own enjoyment and in performance at benefit concerts and music parties. Their duets are of particular interest because they play in nearly perfect unison: a phenomenon that is quite rare among ear players on PEI.

Carl & Jackie had been playing less frequently in the few years prior to the 2006 recordings. Much of their old magic returned on that occasion, however, at which they were accompanied by Jackie’s son John Webster, who also plays in the well-known Island group Fiddlers’ Sons.

Also of note: Carl and near neighbor Merlin Quinn discuss the playing styles of new generation players.

Tune Selections

Webster, Carl & Jackie - Archie Menzies / Fisher's Hornpipe Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Big John MacNeil Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - CJWebster06 Jig 3 / Maggie Browne's Favorite / CJWebster06 Jig 4 Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - CJWebster06 Jig 5, CJWebster06 Jig 6 Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - CJWebster06 Reel 1 / CJWebster06 Reel 2 Accompanied by: John Webster, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - CJWebster92 Reel 1 / Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - CJWebster96 Jig 1 / Jackson's Jig Accompanied by: Paul MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Coilesfield House / Heather on the Hill Accompanied by: John Webster, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Democratic Rage / Mary Claire Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Gerard Heintzman's pno Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Homeward Bound / Liberty Two-Step Accompanied by: John Webster, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Jay's Reel Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - John Morrison, Assynt House Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - MacNab's Hornpipe / CJWebster06 Reel 7 Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Munster Lass / Light & Airy Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Ottawa Valley Reel Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Sally Gardens / West Mabou Reel Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Sandy MacIntyre's Trip to Boston / Pigeon on the Gatepost Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Smash the Windows Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Souris Breakwater Accompanied by: unacc
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Southern Melody / Polo March Accompanied by: John Webster, gtr
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Webster, Carl & Jackie - Teviot Bridge / Judique Jig / Riverbend Jig Accompanied by: John Webster, gtr
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Oral Histories

Jack Webster’s career Jack Webster had use only of fingers 2 through 4, so he had to slide the little finger around to get to the higher registers; his bowing was perfect; the timing he put on it you couldn't help but dance; he played 5 or 6 nights a week between formal venues like the Beaver Club in Montague and the schoolhouses info and transcript
Jack Webster’s playing style People would come to the house day or night asking him to play tunes, and he would stop work and play; he played dances and weddings; he had heart trouble at the end and was told not to play info and transcript
New Generation players’ styles Young generation fiddlers tend to play too fast, get carried away: "Not puttin' it all in!" (Merlin Quinn joins in); it was the custom for fiddlers to be modest but the younger generation, they sometimes get their head swelled a little info and transcript