Monday, September 13, 2010
It is hard for me to believe I have never until now posted a Graham Townsend album at the Attic. Graham has never properly received his due as on of the very greatest fiddlers in recorded history. Through his lifespan was relatively short (1942-1998), his accomplishments were enormous, and his technical mastery of the instrument was practically unmatched. It is not unfair to say (because recordings of his playing exist to back up the claims) that he had under his fingers Irish, Scottish, Canadian, Nashville, Bluegrass, and Jazz (Venuti or Grapelli) styles of fiddling.
Legally blind since birth, the native of Buckingham, Quebec began playing before he was ten years if age and by his mid-teens was a formidable force on the Canadian contest circuit, setting many records with his numerous wins. Despite this, he is remembered as a genuine and helpful man with a passion for all those who played and shared a love for his chosen instrument. His influence was definitely immense, yet in the scant years since his death he seems not to be remembered as would be expected of a man who's records were reliable sellers in every market in the country. Graham recorded over thirty albums in his career, which found their way into homes from coast to coast.
The present album was released in 1970, and was probably recorded in either Montreal or Ottawa. It has long been a favourite of mine, as I purchased a cassette copy as a youth of about 13, and listened to that tape until it nearly unraveled. I was always very struck by Townsend's control of the bow, brilliant phrasing and overall taste. On the album he covers tunes from the Acadian (Golden Wedding Reel), Irish (Rakes Of Kildare), Scots (Lord Athlone's March), Metis (Princess Irena) and Ukranian (Bandura Waltz, Zaporozich) traditions with equal aplomb. Although this is only one of the many great Townsend albums recorded through the years, I hope it will continue to be, as it was for me, a fantastic introduction to the fiddle marvel who was Graham Townsend.
Click here for a bio of Graham at the Canadian Encyclopedia.
Click here for liner notes to many of Graham's albums, including extensive biographies.
1. Golden Wedding Reel
2. Princess Irena
3. Bandura Waltz
4. Stack Of Barley
6. Joys Of Quebec
8. Calgary Waltz
9. Lord Athlone's March
10. Rakes Of Kildare