Bellows and Bows: Historic Recordings of Traditional Fiddle and Accordion Music from across Canada

Also available in French under the title Soufflets et archets.


• 55 fiddlers and 22 accordion players from every province and region of Canada

• rare archival and out-of-print tracks, including the first known recording of “Red River Jig”; early radio and TV broadcasts

• 64 tracks featuring tunes played in diverse Canadian styles: Scottish, French, Irish; First Nations, Métis, Inuit; Ukrainian, Norwegian, Polish

Click here for the tracklist.


• biographies of the musicians, archival photos, detailed maps, histories and analyses of the tunes

• extended essay on the social history of fiddle and accordion music in Canada, including information on contests, festivals, tune composition, and music–dance relationships

Dr. Sherry Johnson and her team of regional experts have compiled historically significant tracks from archival and personal collections, as well as early commercial recordings no longer in circulation. The 64 tracks on this two-CD set demonstrate the artistry and social complexity of a number of accordion and fiddle communities and add nuance to the historical representations of these evolving traditions.

Excerpt from opening essay: “Fiddle and accordion have long thrived in Canada—among early settlers who introduced them to the continent, in Inuit, Métis and First Nations societies that made them their own, and in more recent immigrant communities. Fiddle and accordion music have served, at times, as common ‘languages’ binding the nation’s diverse populations; more often, however, subtleties of style and approach have been used to mark distinct identities. Differences may be ethnocultural (as in the tempo differences of Scottish-derived and Acadian fiddle music in Maritime Canada) or class-related (as in the debates about the merits of competitions). Fiddle and accordion traditions in Canada have often been represented by the media, show promoters, and even by the musicians themselves either as a kind of nostalgic ‘barn dance’ tradition (stereotyped as rural, uneducated and slightly rough), or else as a virtuosic ‘show’ tradition (in recordings produced by award winners of the dozens of fiddle competitions that take place annually across the nation).”

To order your copy of Bellows and Bows, click here.

  Le Brandy des Vaillaincourt – Louis "Pitou" Boudreault

Part of a large family of loosely related melodies whose earliest printed settings appeared in London in the early 1700s, this tune is played in Quebec as well as in Métis communities of central-Western Canada.

  Grand Valley Breakdown – Al Cherny, Clifford “Lucky” Ambeault, and Earl Mitton

This track was recorded at a house party in Shelburne, Ontario, the evening before the Canadian Old-Time Fiddle Contest in 1957, and features three competitors at that year’s contest. The tape was recorded by Harry Parker, a fiddle enthusiast who owned a music store in Owen Sound, on one of the first tape machines available.

  Iqsaakik / Sialaanqujaqsiut – Simeonie Keenainak

Simeonie learned this set of square dance tunes from the elders in his community but plays the tunes in his own distinctive style. This set of tunes is a good example of how the Inuit made European tunes their own.

  Ridin’ Old Paint and Leadin’ Old Ball – King Ganam

This song was given to song collector John Lomax by Boothe Merrill in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1910, where it was often used as the last dance of the evening. King Ganam uses a number of techniques to make this tune, broadcast on Holiday Ranch on January 29, 1955, a virtuosic show stopper.


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