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MYLLIE BARRON: RIDING ON A HANDCAR
Myllie Barron was born in 1910, and raised in the Grand Narrows district of Manitoba. His maternal grandfather was an Irishman who worked on York boats freighting for the Hudson Bay Company. His paternal grandfather was from France, and his paternal grandmother was from Mexico. His parents, Oliver and Marie Rose Barron, were married in 1901 in Rolla, North Dakota. His father repaired instruments and played for local dances.
Myllie began fiddling at age 9, and that year first played on stage when he teacher asked him to play at a Christmas concert. He played one tune, on a borrowed violin, jumped off the state, and was promptly put back up by a man in the audience who said they wanted to hear more of that music. He got his first fiddle at age 16, when he took a mail-order course from the Slingerland School of Music in Chicago, which included a free violin with 48 lessons. His dad wanted a violin player in the family, but never realized "the squeaks and squawks he would have to put up with" until Myllie "started developing a nice tone on my fiddle, that is when my dad came to my aid." Three of his brother also played music, and in the late 1930's they played regularly on the radio in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and Flin Flon, Manitoba. Myllie's son Ray sang with them at age 4 and 5. His wife Blanche was a champion step dancer. In 1949 Myllie entered and won his first fiddle contest, at the Red River Barn Dance on CKY in Winnipeg, and the next year won the Manitoba championship.
He and his family soon moved to British Columbia. Over the years his working career included commercial fishing, mink ranching, heavy construction, carpentry, and automobile assembly. He took a long break from fiddling, but began again after he retired and met prominent B.C. fiddle Bob Montgomery. Since then he has won many contests, including the British Columbia championship twice, and has judged contests in the US and Canada. When he became Senior Champion at Weiser in 1982, Myllie became the first Canadian to ever win any division there. Later that year he made his first record, "Fiddler on the Loose," available from Voyager Recordings.
Ray Barron was born in 1934. He played drums in community halls and barn dances with his family band around Mafeking, Manitoba. At age 10 he learned to play accordion from German U-boat prisoners in a camp at the edge of town. He also plays string bas, and in 2002 won the coveted accompanist award at the Western Open Fiddle Contest in Red Bluff, California. Myllie and Ray currently live in Victoria, B.C.
Unless noted otherwise, Myllie learned these tunes from the "fiddler's bible," M. M. Cole's "1000 Fiddle Tunes."
1. Riding on a Handcar
2. Great Eastern
3. Castle in the Air
4. Here and There
5. High Life Waltz Learned from recording of Susan Tellier from Ontario
6. Victory Reel Written by Don Messer
7. Dusty Bob
8. Pigeon on a Gate
9. Rough Diamond Jig
10. Scandinavian Waltz Ray learned this from an old recording.
11. Humors of Boston
12. Laird of Drumblair/Peter Street The Laird of Drumblair was written by Scottisch composer J. Scott Skinner.
13. Belfast Jig/Boys of the Town Myllie learned Belfast Jig from a Chuck Joyce recording. Boys of the Town is from O'Neill's "Music of Ireland.
14. Red River Jig Myllie learned this traditional Metis specialty from his dad. A transcription of his version is available in Roy Gibbons' "Folk FIddling in Canada" published by the National Museum of Man, Ottawa 1981. The fiddle's G string is tuned up to A.
15. Lisa Linn A waltz written by Any DeJarlis.
16. My Brother's Letter By Vincent MacLellan. Myllie learned it from Gordon MacQuarrie's "Cape Breton Collection."
17. Minstrel Clog
18. Golden Eagle Hornpipe
19. Teardrop Waltz From Reg Bouvette.
20. Gaspe Reel A traditional Canadian tune.
21. The Praties are Dug and the Frost is All Over
22. Sally Gardenslearned from a 1928 Victor recording.
23. Canadian Blue Rock Polka Arranged by Ray Barron.
24. Devil's Dream/Money Musk/Miller's Reel
Sterling Castle A widely known Scottish strathspey.
26. St. Patrick's Jig Medley From O'Meill's "Music of Ireland."
27. Whiskey Before Breakfast Myllie heard this tune played by Scottish and Metis musicians in Manitoba when he was 8 years old.
28. Citadel Waltz Another beautiful Andy DeJarlis tune.
Recorded 2003 in Seattle by Phil Williams. Photo by Steve Purdey. Production assistance by Audrey Barron.
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