Skip Navigation Links
Send e-mail to Bluegrass@denonco.net
Simon St. Pierre


This is a quote from The Field Recorder's Collective: "Simon St. Pierre is a fascinating and elusive Maine lumberjack and fiddler skilled in an array of music. He came to the 1977 Brandywine festival with Fred Pike, a stunning guitarist from Maine. They made a huge impression upon Dewey Balfa who called Simon "a brother I met today." Reared in a logging community in Quebec, Simon told of long winters in the logging bunkhouses of the northern region of the province. Simon's eclectic repertoire began with fiddlers employed there from many parts of Canada. He heard radio fiddlers and recorded ones such as Isadore Soucy, but his favorites were men he had met and learned from, such as his favorite, Claire Lake, a neighbor in the Smyrna Mills area of northeast Maine's Aroostook County. Simon had been in the U.S. for about twenty years at the time of the festival, and still earned his living operating a one-man sawmill, sawing white swamp cedar into logs to create insect-proof cabins. In 1983, Simon was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the Folk Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts and performed at the White House with his friend Joe Pomerleau. He is living in retirement in Maine."
Bob Denoncourt played on two of Simon's albums [see discography below] and worked numerous gigs throughout the North East backing up Simon on bass. The Field Recording Collective CD was recorded at the Brandywine Festival where Bob Denoncourt and Fred Pike backed Simon up.
Simon is still playing at Bluegrass festivals. For example, he was featured at the Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Festival last August in Sidney, Maine   August 2010 performers
Simon has many followers and admirers, but what really tells the character of a person is how his neighbors feel about him and his family. 
While researching for this site, I spoke with Alberta McDonald from his home town who allowed me to quote her here:
"It's nice to see Simon as a younger man. He is very polite and friendly. He still treats women like a lady, which is rare these days. I also went to Youtube and listened to him play. I didn't realize he was a Youtube celeb. Awesome!
The whole St. Pierre family is very nice. I see more of Daniel than Simon and he's always as polite as his father. Very nice people. I don't mind if you quote me. I'd be honored. Thank you."
Here are a few links
Greg Boardman: Another Maine Fiddler who is still playing and teaching after 40 years. Greg's Website
Greg Boardman: More info Frantasia Festival
The Field Recorder's Collective Notes Notes on Simon's career The above quote was taken from this link.
The Field Recorder's Collective has a CD available with 34 songs CD Available from the Collective  recorded live at the Brandywine Festival
The Field Recorder's Collective (From the collection of the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music)   Listen to  The Cuckoo's Nest [Listen to it again to get Simon's complete introduction] 
Answers.com has a story about Simon, too Click here for the story by Eugene Chadbourne
ArtistsDirect.com story about Simon Same article by Eugene Chadbourne
Maine Fiddle Camp Meet the Staff including Greg Boardman
Newspaper article: Fiddling and Clogging at the State House Read the news
National Heritage Fellowship winners The entire list
National Heritage Fellowship winner: Simon St. Pierre 1983 Award bio
Simon on YouTube "Irish Rover" and "Fisher's Hornpipe" Christmas Party  Simon St Pierre & Sam Oaks playing at a Christmas party in Maine 1994.
WABI-TV news item - Simon a headliner Short article about Blistered Fingers BGF
Celebrated fiddler returns to logging festival Click here for the article
8 minutes of Simon during his 1983 Washington DC trip to accept a National Heritage Award Click here to read about the documentary film of New England Fiddles/Dances 
Online video of New England Fiddlers by John Bishop. This does not include the portion with Simon Click here
Video:Doug Protsik interview including Simon playing several tunes December 2010 YouTube Video


Simone, Simon, Edie Thibodeau, Bob Denoncourt

Simone and Simon
x
Simon with Kennebec Valley Boys
Fred Pike, Simon, Bob Denoncourt, Sam Tidwell

Simon with KVB
Bill Kimball, Fred Pike, Simon, Sam Tidwell [Bob Denoncourt behind column]

Simon with Kennebec Valley Boys
Fred Pike, Simon, Bob Denoncourt, Sam Tidwell

Simon checking out farm equipment at Smokey Greene's festival with  Jerry Lundy

Simone & Simon St. Pierre, Fran & Bob Denoncourt

Serious music discussion
Fred Pike, probably Sam Tidwell hidden behind Fred,
Simon gesturing, and Bill Kimball paying attention!
NH Festival with Joe Pomerleau


Simon and Hazel McGee
Simon's Discography
Musicians Album Title and Liner Notes Image Song Titles Available

Musician Picks
Simon St. Pierre Fiddle
Walter Hensley Banjo
Jim Hensley Guitar
Danny St. Pierre Guitar
Dee Gunter Mandolin
Jerry Yager Bass
Joys of Quebec
Revonah RS-915  1973
 
"The first time I heard Simon St. Pierre was in the dead of night at a parking lot pickin' session at the Country Gentlemen Festival in July of 1972 up at Webster, Mass. I never really saw him that night because the light from my little flash light could not penetrate the large crowd he had surrounding him. I saw many good fiddlers like Bud Morrisroe, Vernon Derrick, and others who were fiddling along with this wild French Canadian either close up to him or around the periphery of the crowd. All were listening very intently because this was a true “happening” and they all wanted to hear the great music.

It was, as usual, a 3-4 hour session with almost never a repeat of tunes few had heard before. The French flew fast and loose as he had a friend with him who played bass and his son Danny on guitar. It was a night I will never forget but I never really saw his face.

Next day I had to find him… and of course there he was again in the field, fiddling, and with an even larger crowd around him. To say the least he is an unusual fiddler. He knows hundreds of tunes and plays them in a unique style – he holds the fiddle against his chest instead of under his chin. This of course, is against all the rules of good fiddling but when you hear his work on this album, you can only say, as we all did…what rules?

This professional lumberjack was born in 1930 on the hill of St. Benoit, Quebec Province (about 20 miles from the U.S. border). He says, “I play the fiddle. I was 14 years old…then in 1967 I met a guy, musician, Clair Lake, Island Falls, ME and get really interested again. After that, I go to Jamborees and festivals…”

Although I was not there, I heard that he played again up at Smokey Green’s 1973 festival in upstate New York where Paul Gerry found him and arranged to record this album. The word was that he was so great up there that Paul had to think hard to match this talent with a back-up band who could do him justice. Of course, who better than the great Walter and Jim Hensley and the Dukes of Bluegrass…the decision was not difficult. As Paul puts it, “First class talent needs first class accommodations” And so, Revonah Records has produced a winner. This is like no other fiddle album you have ever heard. Two cuts are fantastic, five or six are magnificent and the rest are super. Can you ask for more than that?

Now to the individual cuts:  “The Joys of Quebec” is my far and away favorite. I don’t know what you call it technically but it is surely some sort of a “figure dance” related to some of the court dances dating back to the 16th or 17th century French Kings. But for me…if I close my eyes I see the horses racing through the snow in the old French section of Quebec. They are pulling a sleigh and it’s full of kids and they are all laughing and shouting…faster, faster etc,. (Oh, well enough of the old romantic). The piece is beautiful and played with the drive that is a credit to the Dukes of Bluegrass as well as Simon. Listen especially to Walter’s chiming banjo and Simon’s style which is just incredible.

My second favorite is “Minstrals Fancy”. This piece is in the style of a French quadrille (duple meter in 2/4 time). Historically the French migrated from Canada to New Orleans and course, brought with them their music. The roots of ragtime jazz were replanted, as it were, in New Orleans and strongly influenced by French fiddle and dance music such as the quadrille and gavotte. You can still hear it in some of the Cajun Fiddlers today. Simon’s version of this piece is a beautiful example of how different styles of music come together as roots while the branches spread out in many directions. Enough of history and musicology just listen to it. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

There are two “reels” on this album. “Golden Wedding Reel” has a good strong fiddle kick off, an excellent guitar break, and is neither in major nor minor scale, but rather in a “modal” scale. “St. Ann’s Reel” and “Woodchoppers Reel” are two solid fiddle tunes which are given new life and spirit in Simon’s expert hands. “Maple Sugar”, I have heard before by Bill Poffenberger who is on good fiddler but this version is a bit different. The backup for “Big Jim McNeil” is tastefully done by the Dukes of Bluegrass and the drive of “Donnie Gilcrist’s Breakdown” has some especially good guitar work by Jim Hensley.


 The waltz tune to end all waltz tunes is Simon’s version of “Waltz of the Leaves”. Listen especially for those ornaments and “turns” or whatever you call all those extra notes he gets in. I especially liked the hornpipe he does called “Point Prime Hornpipe". “Caber Feigh” – a duet between Simon and Walter - has Walter playing the bass line on the banjo and has an ending which is unexpected to say the least. “Cuckoo’s Nest” is an English or Scottish air also in the “modal” key.

This album his airs, reels, hornpipes, waltzes, quadrilles, and whole host of other things I have never heard before but I’m sure I will listen to over and over again.

Bon Chance, Simon St. Pierre, avons plus de eux.

Donald Kissil, Mountain Lakes, New Jersey February 1974"
Golden Wedding Reel
Big John McNeil
Joys of Quebec
Woodchopper's Reel
Point Prime Hornpipe
Maple Sugar
Johnny Gilcrist's Breakdown
Minstrals Fancy
Cuckoo's Nest
Waltz of the Leaves
Caber Feigh
Princess Irena
St. Anne's Reel
Transferred from Vinyl to CD

$15.00 plus $3.00 shipping

 Bluegrass@denonco.net
Musician Picks
Simon St. Pierre Fiddle
Bill Kimball Banjo
Danny St. Pierre Guitar
Fred Pike Guitar
Sam Tidwell Mandolin
Bob Denoncourt Bass
Woods of Maine
Revonah RS 920   1975
Recorded at Revonah Records December 1975

"This is a new album by an unusual French Canadian fiddler, Simon St. Pierre. Most fiddle fans have purchased the first album that Simon recorded for Revonah back in 1973. To those of you who have purchased that album no explanation of Simon's great ability on the fiddle is necessary. To the newer listeners of this fiddle player, just a word or two about him.

This album was recorded in December of 1975 following up his first successful album, "The Joys of Quebec". When he discussed recording the second album, we spoke about who would back him up and Simon mentioned to me he had a very good band in mind from the New England area, Fred Pike/Sam Tidwell and The Kennebec Valley Boys. I had remembered hearing Fred on an album recorded a few years back, which I liked very much, so Simon got together with the band and we all decided on a December recording date. As it turned out, Fred and the band were going to be in Washington, D.C. in December, so it would be convenient to meet Simon at my studio in Ferndale, New York to do the recording.

This was the first time I had met Fred and the rest of the boys and I must say it certainly was a pleasure working with such a group of professional musicians. It worked especially well, since while they were at my studio, they also recorded an album for me "The Last Log Drive".

Simon was also backed up by his son Danny, and I must say, as Danny gets older he gets better each time I hear him play. Danny's timing is perfect as he backs his father up on his unusual style of fiddle playing with the various, interesting timing effects that Simon uses.

You will hear Fred playing the guitar on this album, instead of his usual fine banjo picking and Bill Kimball on banjo instead of the guitar. Of course, Bob Denoncourt is on bass and Sam Tidwell on mandolin.

Some of the numbers on the album, I'm sure many fiddle fans will have heard before. Three or four of the numbers I had never heard, but I really enjoy listening to Simon play them in his very unique style. They are, "The Home Sweet Home Reel", "Black Velvet Reel", "Roseanna Waltz" and "The Happy Acres 2 Step". Of course, all the other tunes are equally as well done. One very interesting number is the last cut on side two, "Antiquite #3", which caught Simon off guard at a moment when he thought I wasn't recording. I liked this number so much, I included it in the album. This describes how things were many years ago when people didn't have any money for instruments, so they used their feet to accompany themselves while playing the fiddle.


In closing, Simon was born in 1930, on the hill of Saint Benoit, Quebec Province, and started playing the fiddle at the age of fourteen. Since he recorded his first album for Revonah, he has been making the Bluegrass festival circuit, so many Bluegrass fans have seen and heard Simon’s fine fiddle playing, and like very much what they hear, so it is a pleasure for me to be able to issue another album of fiddle music by the great Simon St. Pierre, his son Danny and ably assisted by Fred Pike/Sam Tidwell and the Kennebec Valley Boys.


Paul Gerry June 1976"
Happy Acres 2 Step
Quebec Reel
Fishers Hornpipe
Jimmie's Favorite Jig
Bow on the String
Roseanna Waltz
Running Water
Flannagan Polka
Montreal Reel
Black Velvet Waltz
Frenchie's Reel
Growling Old Man & Old Woman
Home Sweet Home Reel
"Antiquite" #2
Transferred from Vinyl to CD

$15.00 plus $3.00 shipping

 Bluegrass@denonco.net

Musician Picks
Simon St. Pierre Fiddle
Bill Kimball Banjo
Fred Pike Guitar
Sam Tidwell Mandolin
Bob Denoncourt Bass
Fiddler From Maine
Revonah RS-926  1977

Recorded November 10 & 11, 1976 at Revonah Records Studio

"In October of 1976, I relocated and constructed a new recording studio and disc mastering complex.

The first group in the studio to record new material was Simon St. Pierre backed up by my good friends Fred Pike/Sam Tidwell & The Kennebec Valley Boys. They were impressed with both the studio size and the complex control room. It gives all our groups a relaxed feeling while recording; the atmosphere is like that when neighbors gather for some good picking. Tension and pressure are kept to a minimum. The results of that session are inside this album jacket.

What started as a difficult job, turned out to be a gratifying and rewarding experience for all of us. Simon, in addition to being a unique fiddler is a lot of fun at a recording session. His humorous stories about lumberjacking and some of the “North Woods” people he knows kept us all in good spirits.

Unfortunately shortly after the session, the band broke up. Fred formed a new group and Sam reorganized the Kennebec Valley Boys.

One of the nice things about a record is its permanence. I am pleased to have captured Simon, Fred, Sam & The Kennebec Valley Boys during some of these great musical moments.



Simon has two other albums out on the Revonah label, the first of which is R-915 “The Joys of Quebec” backed by Walter Hensley & The Dukes of Bluegrass. The second is RS-920 “The Woods of Maine” where Simon is backed up by Fred Pike/Sam Tidwell & The Kennebec Valley Boys."

Paul Gerry May 1977
Redwing
Waverly Two Step
Busy Fingers
Joe King's Hornpipe
Uncle Henry's Reel
Run, Johnny, Run
Kiss Me Waltz
Little Roy's Breakfast
Light House Keeper
Concert Reel
Nova Scotia Hop
Grandfather's Reel

Transferred from Vinyl to CD

$15.00 plus $3.00 shipping


 
Bluegrass@denonco.net
This is the CD offered by The Field Recorder's Collective

Musician Picks
Fred Pike Guitar
Simon St. Pierre Fiddle
Bob Denoncourt Bass
Simon St. Pierre 
FRC206 – Simon St. Pierre
BrandyWine Festival 1977

"Simon St. Pierre is a fascinating and elusive Maine lumberjack and fiddler skilled in an array of music. He came to the 1977 Brandywine festival with Fred Pike, a stunning guitarist from Maine. They made a huge impression upon Dewey Balfa who called Simon "a brother I met today."

Reared in a logging community in Quebec, Simon told of long winters in the logging bunkhouses of the northern region of the province. Simon's eclectic repertoire began with fiddlers employed there from many parts of Canada. He heard radio fiddlers and recorded ones such as Isadore Soucy, but his favorites were men he had met and learned from, such as his favorite, Claire Lake, a neighbor in the Smyrna Mills area of northeast Maine's Aroostook County.

Simon had been in the U.S. for about twenty years at the time of the festival, and still earned his living operating a one-man sawmill, sawing white swamp cedar into logs to create insect-proof cabins. In 1983, Simon was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the Folk Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts and performed at the White House with his friend Joe Pomerleau. He is living in retirement in Maine."
  1. Introduction
  2. Bowing the Strings
  3. Joys of Quebec
  4. Waverly Two Step
  5. The Cuckoo’s Nest
  6. Fishers Hornpipe
  7. French’s Reel
  8. Unknown Title
  9. Bonnie Kate
  10. Growling Old Man and Growling Old Woman
  11. Swallowtail Reel
  12. Roxanna Waltz
  13. Saint Anne’s Reel
  14. Happy Acres Two Step
  15. Grandfather’s Reel
  16. Jig
  17. Big John McNeil
  18. Run Johnny Run
  19. Unknown Title
  20. Dry and Dusty
  21. Unknown Title
  22. Little Roy’s Breakfast
  23. Unknown Title
  24. Soldier’s Joy
  25. Schottische
  26. Ragtime Annie
  27. Over the Waves
  28. Maple Sugar
  29. Running Water
  30. Jimmy's Favorite Jig 
  31. Concert Reel
  32. Uncle Henry’s Reel
  33. Waverly Two Step
  34. Huckleberry Hornpipe
You can order this CD
Click here
Skip Navigation Links