NOTE: This concert has been moved to Jan. 14 due to heating issues at Jewett Hall Auditorium.

It’s always a lot of fun reconnecting with folks I’ve interviewed in the past. Such was the case on Dec. 11 when I called fiddler/composer/teacher/luthier Don Roy to get an update on what’s been happening with this Maine dean of Franco-American fiddling lately. Especially the concert he’s got coming up Jan. 7 (moved to Jan. 14) at Jewett Hall Auditorium. I reached him at home in Windham and asked that we begin with that UMA performance in Augusta.

Roy: Well, it’ll be the trio, and that’s just Cindy (Roy, Don’s wife) and I and Jay (Young), our acoustic bass player, and we’ll be playing the traditional music of our heritage, which is Franco-American. Cindy will be doing some step-dancing and playing the piano, and you know what I do.

Q: Oh, yeah, I do!

Roy: And we’re also going to have two young kids with us: Elsie and Rossby Amott.

Q: How long have you been working with them?

Roy: About a year and a half. Elsie is 10 and Rossby’s 12 and they come from Otisfield.

Q: Are they students of yours?

Roy: Yeah.

Q: How many students do you work with? Do you work with a couple at a time?

Roy: Yeah, usually, and I’ll pick up a few extras just in the winter, but come April I’m done teaching.

Q: Is that when the performances kick in again?

Roy: Well, no, I run heavy equipment for a farmer next door. He’s got a compost business. I screen the stuff and then I load the trucks when they come in, that’s in April, May and June when he’s really busy. I commit to him for that time and then after that I’m on my own. But I’ll tell ya, next year’s already booked heavier than any year’s been at this point in time.

Q: Oh, you mean as performances go?

Roy: Yeah, a lot of stuff is going on next year. But we’re getting ready for Jewett; the kids are in the process right now of making a CD to give away for Christmas presents and such. Cindy and I are accompanying them, but they’re pretty talented kids. When Rossby’s parents found out that I make fiddles they said, “Well, Rossby’s always wanted to make a fiddle,” and I told them, “If you’re willing to bring him down once a week I’ll do that.” So this year he completed his first fiddle that he made all from scratch.

Q: My word, that seems a little unusual for that age.

Roy: I don’t know any other one that’s done it, you know. So he’s playing that now and he’s working on his second one.

Q: It must be neat to get in on the ground floor with a young talent like that.

Roy: Yeah, it is. It’s a breath of fresh air having those kids around, I’m having a lot of fun with them.

Q: How long have you been doing the teaching end of things?

Roy: Of them or just anybody?

Q: Just anybody.

Roy: Oh, quite a while. My first student was Erica Brown when she was nine, and she’s 34 now so you can do the math on that. And of course I’ve got that whole Fiddle-icious Orchestra that I teach, that’s enough for me.

Q: I believe it. With everything you do you definitely have a full plate. But then again, it must be rewarding to find and work with kids that are just gifted that way.

Roy: And these are; they’re writing their own tunes, and they’re really good tunes. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to them so I’m starting to push them even harder now.

Q: How long will you work with them?

Roy: As long as they want. And when they play with us we always pay them proportionately. It’s not a lot, but we’re starting trying to teach them the business end of it.

Q: Now you say they write their own material — do you do that as well?

Roy: I do, yeah, I’ve written quite a few tunes. As a matter of fact, I’m working on a project this winter that’s all my own compositions.

Q: Will you be putting that out on CD?

Roy: Yes, I will sometime in 2018, but I don’t know when. I’ve got my own studio right here.

Q: I really appreciate being able to touch base with you again. Is there anything you’d like to get across to the folks reading this article concerning your show coming up at Jewett Hall.

Roy: Oh, not really, just that it’ll be good to see them again.

Lucky Clark has spent 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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