Saturday, July 9, 2022
1pm & 3pm
Yountville Community Center
6516 Washington Street, Yountville
Co-sponsored with Town of Yountville
$25: General Admission
$12: Ages 12 and under
$2 off per ticket for Yountville residents with code Yresident
Evy's interview with performer Julie
This family group consists of fiddling and step dancing siblings Tom, Kerry and Julie Fitzgerald plus Kyle Waymouth on guitar. Originating just outside of Canada’s renowned Ottawa Valley, the siblings have come a long way from their small town roots. Their awards include accolades as three-time Canadian Grandmaster Fiddle Champions and Ontario Open Step Dance Champions. Join us for an afternoon of high energy music and extraordinary dance.
E & M Co-Director Evy Warshawski interviewed Julie Fitzgerald on February 2 as she and her siblings prepared for a tour to the Napa Valley.
How is life traveling with your siblings? What's the best / worst part of being with your siblings?
We have a great time traveling together. We have been performing and touring since we were in elementary school and high school. We’ve got a good system in place for traveling that reduces the amount of arguments ha-ha!
Sometimes, traveling with your siblings is better, as you're not afraid to say what's on your mind if something is bothering you, and so I find issues do not stay lingering for long. We all have a lot in common, so it makes certain aspects of traveling a bit easier when it comes to where to stop for meals, what hotels to stay at, and sightseeing excursions on days off.
Do you always agree on strategy, songs and dances you will do?
Not always! We all have different musical preferences and tastes, so we each bring something unique to the show. For example, Tom is more into swing and Bluegrass, Kerry likes the original music/dance, and I like upbeat Celtic and dance. Not everyone would agree on each particular number, but we have to put our personal musical preferences aside and make sure to play what the audience will enjoy most. You don't get to play everything that you want each night, but we have lots of repertoire to choose from and at the end of the day we always play what's best for the audience, and we are all happy!
What's your favorite part of performing?
There is a tremendous amount of time and work that goes into putting on a performance and putting together a tour. There are all the musical aspects, which include writing and arranging the music. As self-represented artists, there is also the business aspect, which includes contacting venues, applying to showcases and grants, submitting contracts, sending out riders, booking hotels and travel, applying for work permits, promotion, etc. The performing is the result of all the behind-the-scenes work and time that each of us dedicates. We have a pretty good system set up so that all of these aspects get done on time. Each one of us has our strengths and will tackle certain tasks. But of course, we all contribute musically, and getting on stage to perform and receiving feedback from our audiences makes all of this hard work worth it!
What's the best / worst part of touring?
Best: The sights and landscapes that we see while on tour! We have been able to travel to so many different countries and have seen so many memorable sights (traveled to Germany, UK, Ireland, USA, and Caribbean). Experiencing different foods and cultures in different countries has also been a highlight for us. Meeting audiences members and hosts from the venues have also been highlights. People are so hospitable, and willing to help out with our travel needs and making our stay so memorable in each town. Traveling with siblings is something I think we take for granted most of the time, but it’s honestly such a fortunate thing. We can do so many things that we never could if we didn’t work with our sibling -- things from musical selection, hotel and dining options. We are family so we still argue, but things resolve much quicker, and we will always look back on these tours and see how thankful we are to have had this opportunity to play music together as a family.
Worst: we do find that with the amount of touring we have been doing the past few years (pre-Covid), that it does make it difficult to stay in touch with a group of friends or community back home. We do enjoy sports and social outings, but a lot of times we are unable to commit to certain leagues since we are away for so many days, and therefore it is much more difficult to keep in touch with friends. We also miss a lot of family functions, like our cousins’ weddings or funeral services for close community members. Our performances are usually booked one and a half to two years in advance, so if anything does come up, we are most likely already booked.
We do enjoy the travel, but the travel is also becoming more of a struggle, especially now dealing with Covid. There are always more and more hurdles it seems like to be able to travel with ease. Traveling with instruments and gear can be cumbersome!
What are the roots of the music you play?
Our music has its roots in Irish, Scottish, and French Canadian traditions. There is also American influence, especially when it comes to the old time styles that you hear across the country. But since we are in the more Eastern part of Canada, we have more Celtic influences, both with the type of music played and the specific techniques. This goes the same for the step dancing. The specific style of dance is called Ottawa-Valley step dance, which originated in the eastern part of Ontario from the French, Irish and Scottish immigrants who came to work in the lumber camps. After a hard day's work, the workers would relax and enjoy exchanging the different music and dance styles, and eventually this blend of styles became Ottawa-Valley step dance and fiddle!
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