Over the course of the last decade and a half, Moncton fiddler Samantha Robichaud has garnered well-deserved praise for her skilful mastery of the fiddle, bringing her spirited performances to audiences throughout Canada, the U.S. and beyond.
While her music has remained true to its Cape Breton and Acadian roots, her sound has also evolved over that time, and has seen the musician incorporate a distinct Americana influence to her work, which has helped broaden her sound even more.
This Sunday afternoon at Moncton’s Empress Theatre, Robichaud launches her newest studio effort, the appropriately titled Simplicity. Now eight albums into her career, the amiably chatty Robichaud says she sought to travel a new path with her latest effort.
“Many of my albums in the past have seen my fiddle accompanied by a band – guitar, drums, bass – which is always a lot of fun,” she says. “With this new album though, I wanted to create something that was a little more stripped down and representative of the live show I am most often performing, which is typically just me and a guitar. Throughout my career, I’ve played a number of intimate shows, including some house concerts, but have never had a recording to offer that was similar to the live show.”
Simplicity stands in stark contrast to Robichaud’s last studio effort, 2013’s In The Green Room, which paired a collection of her solo songs along with tracks written by a host of her peers. Among the special guests included on that record were some of Atlantic Canada’s biggest musicians, including David Gunning, Thom Swift, Matt Andersen, and Ashley MacIsaac.
Once the dust settled on that ambitious studio outing, Robichaud insists it made sense to pare the recording down this time around.
“Even though we were working with less in terms of instrumentation this time around, it gave me the opportunity to be a little more creative. Chris [Colepaugh], my guitarist, is a master at providing a full, rhythmic sound, while on the fiddle, I used a different bowing technique which gave the songs more of a rhythmic feel as well. Rather than relying on percussion, we wanted the rhythm of the album to portray what we were hearing and feeling with the music.”
At this point in her career, Robichaud has the finely tuned sense to know what she wants from her music. She picked up the fiddle at age four, while as a teen, she was a treasured member of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra.
Since then, the notable performances have continued rolling in: Robichaud is one of just a handful of New Brunswickers that can lay claim to having play Nashville’s legendary Grand Ole Opry and New York’s Carnegie Hall. She has also performed at a number of prestigious music festivals around the world, including San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and has also played before Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Robichaud also has the distinction of being the first female and the first Canadian to be awarded the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin, an award created in honour of the Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2002.
Of course, playing music is merely one aspect of Robichaud’s diverse set of talents. The talented musician is a familiar face at numerous music industry workshops and fiddle camps throughout the country, while also keeping busy teaching fiddle to a roster of 50 students.
Later this year, Robichaud will undertake one her biggest projects to date with the fall arrival of a baby, which will naturally push back plans to travel too far and wide in immediate support of Simplicity.
She is confident that she will be returning to the road sooner rather than later, however.
“Right now, my focus is to launch the album and have people connect with it,” she shares. “There will be plenty of time for shows down the road.”
What: Samantha Robichaud CD Release for Simplicity
When: Sunday June 19, 2 p.m.
Where: Empress Theatre, Robinson Court, Downtown Moncton
Tickets are $15. Advance tickets available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, 811 Main St., Moncton, by phone (5060 856-4379 and online at www.capitol.nb.ca.