Cheverie, Omar - The Cape Breton influence | Bowing Down Home


File: cheverieomar06-oh-capebretonradio_fitzgerald_M.mp3


OC – Omar Cheverie

KP – Curator Ken Perlman

OC: I can remember the first radio that we had in our neighborhood. Our next door neighbor had a radio.

KP: Was that one of those big battery radios.

OC: It was a big battery radio; the name of it was an Atwater Kent. It was as big as that [indicates a piano bench]. And on the side of it you had to synchronize B There were great big dials on it, and you had to synchronize them to bring in the station. There was a lot of squeakin' and static and stuff. We used to get the fiddlers from Cape Breton, from Sydney.

KP: So what year would this have been, approximately?

OC: In the late 30s, ’37, ’38, around there. And I can remember one playing, she used to have a program on from Sydney every week, Tena Campbell. And then Angus Allan Gillis and Dan J Campbell, they used to play together. They were both pretty good fiddlers. And then the odd time they’d get – Angus Chisholm would come in, we'd get him, and he was something else. I always thought so anyway. The bristles would come up on my neck when he'd play, I couldn't believe that anybody could get that sound out of a fiddle. It was just fantastic to hear him. And then Scotty Fitzgerald came on the scene. Things were getting pretty slack when Scotty came along, and he did an awful lot for fiddling because he was a very popular fiddler, put out records; everybody was getting their own record player then and they’d buy the old 78s and get Scotty Fitzgerald. He was fantastic, and a fantastic guy too. I met him and I played a bit with him.We played in Souris together one night. His show was on there and I was a guest, and I played, and he and I played together, somebody requested that we play together. And of course that was the thrill of my life to play with Scotty. It was just as easy as eatin' cake. He wouldn't drown you out or overpower you in any way at all. He'd let you lead, and he'd follow along. That's the way he was. Then the show went to Charlottetown and I played with him in there, too. Scotty Fitzgerald played tunes that he put a little thing in, a little something into the tune that made it a different tune altogether, that made it B that brought it to life, somehow. He played a lot of the old tunes, and a lot of them he dressed ‘em up a bit with grace notes, he used to call them. And have tape home that a girl from the radio station recorded Scotty and he was near the end of his life; he had cancer. And she interviewed him and they were talkin’ about the fiddle. And she asked him about, if he could read music. And he said, “Yes I can read music; I'm not a good reader and the way I play I don't have to be a good reader. Because,” he said, “I just take a piece of music and I get a tune that I like, and I learn what I call,” he said “the frame of the tune. I learn that as good as I can. And I throw the book in the corner,” he said, “and I cook my own version of it.”(laughs). And I think that made him very, very popular I think. Because there was a lot of the old tunes, were good tunes basically, but they were dull in a lot of ways, too. You wouldn't get a lift from listenin' to them. And he took a lot of those tunes and he dressed them up a bit, and boy, God he made a great job of that too. And Angus Chisholm used to do that too.