Cheverie, Omar - Neil Cheverie and his music | Bowing Down Home


File: cheverieomar06-oh-neilcheverie_M.mp3


OC – Omar Cheverie

KP – Curator Ken Perlman

OC: Well, in his time everybody thought he was exceptional because he seemed to be a bit above the rest. He could cut and do things with the bow that most other fiddlers around couldn't do; the majority of people then just learned by ear, anyway. They hadn't ever learned off of the written music. It was remarkably - His uncle played the fiddle and he was a sea captain out of Gloucester [Massachusetts], Capt. Neil MacPhee. And my [great-]Uncle Neil was reared with him and his sister. And I guess that’s where he got a lot of the tunes that seemed to be different than the others. And of course my grandfather picked them up off of him; they had a lot of those old tunes nobody else played around.

KP: You said your grandfather was Neil’s twin?

OC: Neil’s twin.

KP: And what was your grandfather’s name?

OC: Edward. And he was a reasonably good fiddler, too, a little rough; he didn't have quite the nice style that Neil had, but they'd talk over tunes and trade tunes. And all that went on back then, cause that was a good way of finding out a new tune. If somebody had a new tune, he passed it on to somebody else. And there was great comradery between all the people in the family. They all looked up to Uncle Neil because he was supposed to be the best of the bunch. But he never gave you that impression when he was playing, that he was any better than anybody else. And that's what was nice about it. For fellows that were just learning, he would take more interest in them than he would in the guy that was a seasoned fiddler.

KP: What was special about your Great-Uncle Neil's fiddling?

OC: His bowing arm was one thing. Playing tunes years ago, there weren't a lot of people that put the cuts in [demonstrates]. I don’t know if they never learned how to do it or they didn’t care. But Neil was excellent at cutting.

KP: So that was that long before the Cape Breton records were coming out?

OC: Oh yes, before any of that come out.