Fiddling sensation turns heads in U.S.

You might not have realized it if you were watching the Opening Ceremonies to the Winter Olympics from Vancouver this past February, but there was a Metro Moncton resident on the stage while the world watched in awe.

The name Samantha Robichaud is a familiar moniker in our little part of the country and the Winter Olympics marked one of many opportunities that we had better get used to: sharing her extraordinary talent with the rest of the world.

From the time of her 1997 debut recording “Hitting The Notes”, Robichaud has dazzled audiences throughout Canada and the United States. And as a part of the Mosaiq Concert Series, Robichaud will be performing on the Bell Aliant Music Stage in front of Moncton City Hall on Main Street on Friday July 23. The show starts at Noon.

Robichaud admits that having the opportunity to be a part of such a monumental event such as the Olympic Opening Ceremonies was indeed something to be savoured.

“It was such a fantastic experience and just an incredible opportunity that I was given. Getting to work with such talented people on such a large scale production was a huge honour for me,” she says.

Although some may tend to think of the fiddle as a musical instrument of limited appeal , Robichaud says that she has noticed a big difference in the way people’s perception has changed for the better  in recent times. Being involved in the Olympics didn’t hurt the cause either, of course.

“I think having fiddlers involved in the opening ceremonies gave a chance to the genre to be exposed in a whole new light. Many times in the past had I mentioned that I played the fiddle, it would be an uphill battle explaining that it is an instrument that truly has a lot to offer.

“These days though, the genre is on the rise, people are more readily accepting of it and often cite the Olympics as the ‘turning point’ of their perception.”

Robichaud’s most recent studio effort, Collected, was released in 2009 and has seen her support the record in many places all over the world.

Last fall, Robichaud had the amazing opportunity to perform at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco alongside fellow Maritimer Natalie McMaster as well as luminaries such as Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Elvis Costello.

“Playing that festival felt to me like having the chance to be a part of history,” she recalls. “It was just a huge honour to be in the presence of some of these people.”

Robichaud has logged many miles performing throughout the United States and has always found it curiously interesting how warmly fiddling is received there.

“It’s really amazing, the response I get from US audiences,” she notes.

Asked why she feels Americans are so supportive of the genre, she believes it has a lot to do with the fact that the fiddle hasn’t quite permeated the US population as a whole just yet.

“I’ve received warm responses from places that you would perhaps least expect it, like in California,” she says before continuing. “Here in Atlantic Canada, I think we take the fiddle and fiddling for granted because we are constantly exposed to it. We’re surrounded by it, it seems.

“But in the States, Americans have latched onto it as something that is new and different. It is more of a unique thing to audiences there.”

Article published in July 22, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript