Farmer's Reel | Bowing Down Home

About this tune

Farmer’s Reel is one of those rare tunes that seems to perfectly suit the playing styles of fiddlers across the Island. Whether they hale from Kings, Queens, or Prince Counties, fiddlers’ versions seem to be extremely lively, resonant, and replete with interesting twists. To get a good sense of their varied and contrasting styles, listen in particular to the following versions:

Kings County: Francis MacDonald and “Young Peter” Chaisson

Prince County: Edward P. Arsenault, Victor Doucette, and Dennis Pitre

Queens County: Leonard McDonald and Stephen Toole

According to living memory, Farmer’s Reel began circulating on PEI in the 1930s. It seems to have originated in New Brunswick, and indeed I have encountered several conflicting claims among New Brunswick fiddlers regarding authorship. Most recordings of the tune made before the 1990s, including those by Don Messer and Québecois fiddler Jean Carigan went by the title Golden Wedding. Consequently, this is the name that most non-Islanders associate with the tune.

Notation for this tune as played by Stephen Toole is in Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island.

Tune Selections

Arsenault, Albin & Jaddus Gallant - Farmers Reel Accompanied by: Béatrice Gallant pump organ
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Arsenault, Edward P - Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Marie Gallant Arsenault, pno; Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Louise - Theresa MacLellan Reel / Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Zelma Gallant Arsenault, pno
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Arsenault, Peter - Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Helene Arsenault Bergeron, pno
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Chaisson, Peter - 'Young' - Lassie with the Yellow Coatie / Donald Cameron's Reel / Farmer's Reel / Princess Reel / Flowers of Edingburgh / Turkey in the Straw / Stack of Barley Accompanied by: Kevin Chaisson, gtr
Northeast Kings
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Doucette, Victor - Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Vincent Doucette, gtr; Cathy Doucette, bass
West Prince
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MacDonald, Francis - Farmer's Reel / Princess Reel Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings
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MacDonald, Francis - Ottawa Valley Reel / Princess Reel / Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Northeast Kings
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MacDougall, Jim - Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Darlene Harding, pno; Peter Robinson, bass
West Prince
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McDonald, Leonard - Farmer's Reel / Princess Reel Accompanied by: Margaret Ross MacKinnon, pno; Claire McDonald, gtr
Western Queens
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McPhee, Angus - Flowers of Edinburgh / Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Cynthia Jay Crane, pno
Central Kings
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Pitre, Dennis - Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Vincent Doucette, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
West Prince
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Poirier, Zelie-Anne Arsenault - Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Jacques Arsenault, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Smith, Tony - Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Alfred Gallant, gtr
Western Queens
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Toole, Stephen - Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Margaret Ross MacKinnon, pno
Western Queens
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Wedge, Keelan - Dragger's Reel / Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Glen Maceachern, pno; Rodney Savindon, gtr; Norma Arsenault, gtr
New Wave
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West Prince Fiddlers Club - Heather on the Hill / Farmer's Reel Accompanied by: Dorothy Dalton Rogers or Cyrus Gallant, pno; Jack Arbing, mand
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