My Great Uncle’s Fiddle

When I say the title out loud it makes me think of something a southern friend would say when they’re telling you they don’t believe something “My great aunt Edna’s ass, he’s rich”, but here they are…the picture is noted that these are five of nine, but I was only able to find one more brother who was the youngest in this brood of 10 or 11 children.  My grandmother (my pop’s mom) was the youngest.  When I was visiting my father this summer he handed me the fiddle and said “you’re the only one who really seemed to follow in their musical footsteps, so I guess you should have this.”

I was so thrilled~  I knew it existed and I saw it once when my brother Eddy was dating a violinist.  I remember my parents getting it checked out and tuned for her to play.  Don’t think I’d ever try my hand at violin, but I do love the sound of strings.  Cello is on my list of ones to try, but that’s down the road.  This fiddle needed to be played though.  IThe Guay brothers - Frank Guay, William Guay, Arthur Guay, George Guay and Joseph Guayts been gathering dust in my father’s room for decades and that’s an unfair life for such a thing that has such history and so much more life in it.  I’m not sure when Pop acquired it, but I can say it was built in 1894 in Berlin and made it’s way to my great uncle in Canada not long after that. Which uncle?  That I don’t know, I can’t even tell you where this picture was taken, but I do know that these boys traveled in a pack and moved between Quebec, Franklin County, NY and Hill County Montana as laborers.  I guess the pic kind of gives it away that they weren’t exactly pencil pushers… I can tell you that their names are (oldest to youngest); Frank (b. 1876), Arthur, William, George and Joseph (b. 1884). It’s anyone’s guess at this point which name belongs to which mug, but it’s a solid guess that this violin was put into the hands of one of these five gents.  I’m going to keep digging around until I find out.  And hopefully, who the banjo, cello and the rest of the instruments Pop talks about, belonged to as well.

my great uncles fiddle, After I posted the video you’re about to see, I called my dad to let him know where to find it.  That was our deal.  If I took it, I was to get my violin virtuoso friend to pick it up and play it, then video tape it for Pop to enjoy.  He told me that he had just remembered one of them also owned a piccolo and everyone thought it was neat that he would carry it around in his pocket, always on the ready to make music.  He also said that he doesn’t remember it specifically, but that he remembers people talking about the boys playing at the grange town mixers and barn dances.  I can’t just picture it and I love the idea of it~

Louis Lowendall violin was built in 1894 in BerlinAs luck would have it, just weeks after bringing this baby home with me to California, we had a group gathering and I was sure to message Pauly to let him know “my great uncle’s fiddle will be there.”  A lot of us hadn’t seen eachother for a good long while (thus the room was bustling with chatter), including Johnny.  If you remember, he is Ned’s (Brehon Law) nephew and we practiced together for a while last year with the intention of gigging, but he ended up moving to Michigan with his family, so it never came to fruition.  This was the first time we’d seen eachother since the move and played music together.  It was magic, of course~   Both of us are stronger performers than when we saw eachother last and that aside, we just click musically, so it was reassuring to know it was all still there. The best part was that Jim (my new band mate and upright bass player) got to witness it all.  He was encouraged to join in, but he didn’t want to lug the bass over, especially since it was his first time meeting everyone. He said afterward several times how great my crew of friends are (ha, and that wasn’t even all of ’em) and how much they encouraged him to keep at our musical venture.

Great night, great music and great reminder that no matter what your age, there is still music left in you.

So, let it out already~