In what's been a busy week at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, April Verch and her band play second
fiddle to no one, and that includes repeat Grammy winner Béla Fleck.
Verch, a Canadian native, is one of the hottest fiddlers and step dancers performing today, which may sound like an
odd niche to corner, but it is really something to be seen.
Joined by guitarist Clay Ross and bassist Cody Walters, the April Verch Trio will take the Concert Hall stage
Thursday night with a show that's as stunning physically as it is a treat for the ears.
Growing up where I did, it's a strong tradition - not all the kids were doing it - but my parents are fans of fiddle
music and step dancing, and that's how I fell into it," Verch said of her hometown in rural Ontario.
She attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston for a year in the early 1990s but quickly decided on
a touring career and was named Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion and Canadian Open Fiddle Champion.
As far as our performances being unique today, it was a natural extension for me to try different styles and not do
what other people are doing," Verch said.
Verch's music is a combination of old-time Canadian and Americana roots, with some hints of bluegrass and even Irish
folk. If that sounds like a confusing conglomeration, it is, but it works.
The trio can crank a high-energy jig and slow into a heartfelt ballad, but its signature feature is Verch's dancing.
She'll segue seamlessly from a scorching fiddle solo to a dance routine that goes a long way toward explaining why
the trio needs no percussion section - she's it.
I don't really work out a lot, but we're lucky to perform a lot, so that helps," Verch said.
The physical conditioning necessary to keep up her routines is nothing short of athletic, and Verch said the trio
performs up to 250 days a year. That keeps her in shape, but there's still nothing like doing it at 6,500 feet.
Any time I've done the altitude thing before, I've felt the difference, so we'll see. I'll just have to catch my
breath on the instrumentals," she said.
The band's latest tour is in promotion of the CD Steal the Blue," Verch's seventh release in her 10th year on tour.
It's a compilation of original tunes as well as covers of songs from Ron Block, Sarah Siskind, Hayes Carll, John
Hartford and Larry Cordle.