I’ve got a treat for you this new year: Gus La Casse, Celtic fiddler, will perform Jan. 27 at the Somerset Abbey in Madison. He will be joined by his musical partner, Peter Lindquist, on guitar, and the duo will be supporting their latest CD — “Forgotten Dream” — which came out last July.

In 2014, La Casse was a Student in Residence at The Acadia School of Traditional Music appearing on the Canadian international television broadcast from the Congres Mondial Acadien 2014. He also traveled to Ireland as part of the Young Tradition Vermont touring group in 2016 and has played the legendary Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

He called me from his home in Trenton late afternoon on Dec. 22 and I asked him if he’s ever played at The Somerset Abbey before?

La Casse: No, this will be my first time performing at the Abbey. I look forward to it.

Q: Do you play out a lot?

La Casse: Well, I’m 16, so my summer job is gigging. I do probably half a dozen shows a month during the winter, to like three or four a week in the summer. I do a lot of gigging, yeah.

Q: Now the person you’re teamed up with, how did you get to know him?

La Casse: This is a story, this one. When I was 11 or 12, I was in this Celtic band called The Craggy Islanders. A friend of ours had asked us to play at halftime at the roller derby at the Cross Center in Bangor, and they wanted us to specifically play “Wipeout” — like the surf rock song, ya know? Well, one of the guys in the band knows Peter and he said, “I know a guy who plays electric guitar — I’ll ask him.” We didn’t really have time to rehearse together so when we got over to the Cross Center he was wondering what all the lines of tape on the floor were for. That’s when we told him we were playing incidental music at halftime for women’s roller derby. That was my first meeting with him. A few years passed and I met up with him again at the Asticou — a place I have a lot of gigs at in the summer in Northeast Harbor — I’ve played there for four years now. I was looking for someone to play some guitar with me, so I asked Peter, and some jamming on some tunes snowballed into a very busy playing schedule and a CD. It’s a fun story and he tells it very well, too.

Q: Now what kind of music do you make?

La Casse: I’m an Acadian and Cape Breton fiddler and we play a lot of originals.

Q: Are the original compositions you write done in the traditional vein?

La Casse: Yeah, I would say. Peter comes from more Western/Americana roots, he actually toured the country a lot a while back so he comes from that vein. Our music is a meeting of two worlds, my Acadian/Cape Breton fiddle world and his singer-songwriter/Americana world.

Q: Does he do anything in the vocal line or is this an instrumental collaboration only?

La Casse: He does some singing; he does some leads on the songs.

Q: Do you do just original material or do you do covers?

La Casse: We do a lot of traditional songs, and a little different than covers because everybody has their own take on a trad(itional) song. You could have five different fiddlers in a room and each one of them could have a different take on the tune. But, sure, I put my own spin on things and I can site different influences in some of my original songs, as well.

Q: For example?

La Casse: On our latest record there’s a song on there that I wrote that’s very jazz-influenced, the Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grappelli gypsy/jazz-type stuff.

Q: Are you guys working on something new album-wise?

La Casse: No new album work at this minute, no.

Q: Will you have copies of “Forgotten Dream” at the show in Madison?

La Casse: Oh, yeah, there’ll be plenty of copies to sell at the venue.

Q: Is there anything you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article about your debut appearance at The Somerset Abbey?

La Casse: Yeah, just tell them that if they want to hear some hard-driving trad(itional) music at a really great venue in Madison, tell them to come on up to the Somerset Abbey Jan. 27 for a fun show with a kitchen-party atmosphere.

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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