Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Take a Bow You Famous Fiddlers

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Take a Bow You Famous Fiddlers

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alan Nichol

If Fiddles On Fire conjures images of a demented Nero playing amid his Roman inferno, think again.

The Sage's fiddle-fest brings together some of the world's leading practitioners from a range of styles. Classical, folk, jazz, Appalachian, Celtic and Norwegian and a flamenco pairing, too.

The three-day extravaganza, starting in Gateshead tonight, has expert tuition sessions, free impromptu performances and concerts by some of the finest fiddlers available.

I met one of tomorrow's showcase performers, Elana James, formerly Elana Fremerman of Hot Club of Cowtown, now leading her own trio.

She said: " Redd Volkaert (Canadian-born Fender Telecaster master) is going to be playing guitar with me. He's an amazing, guitar player, he played with Merle Haggard for many years and he's an icon in Texas. Beau Sample will be playing bass."

Elana is a classically trained violinist who had to adjust her technique to succeed in the more intuitive styles of swing, jazz, country etc. As she explained: "The more technique you are able to learn ( as a young person especially ( it's like it never goes away, it's something you always have.

"I've always tried to seek-out practitioners of what I wanted to do and I spent a lot of time with old-timers, guys like Johnny Gimble (of the great Bob Wills band and a legend in Texas-swing fiddling), sitting and playing along."

Elana certainly made an impact when she came to the UK with the incendiary Hotclub of Cowtown. Did the reception take her by surprise? "Yes, it did. We made every effort to come to the UK and we did three tours. The Shetland folk festival, I think, was the first big festival to invite me back and I'll be eternally grateful for that. I love it over there.

"We did one show in London (Dingwall's) and it was packed, like a rock-gig, with everyone singing along. The fact that Jools Holland embraced us with performances on his TV shows helped, it was so exciting for us go to the UK and be welcomed like that."

Since then Elana has done three US tours with Bob Dylan. She has a new self-titled CD available and also appears on the new joint effort by Willie Nelson, Ray Price and Merle Haggard called The Last Of The Breed. …

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