FIDDLE MASTER

Talented fiddler featured in Red Deer show

Ben Plotnick to showcase tunes from latest CD

Born into a family of symphonic musicians, Calgary fiddler Ben Plotnick knows plenty about the joy of making music.

The 23-year-old acclaimed musician performs at The Hub on April 29.

Showtime is 7 p.m.

He’ll be joined by a couple of members from his band the Homebound Runaways as well.

Plotnick will also be featuring tunes from his latest CD Dancing at the End of the World.

“It’s definitely my most serious project to date,” he explains during a recent chat from his home in Calgary.

Prior projects include Music is not a Museum and his debut The Quiet Streets. He’s always done all the production work on each CD, and on his first two discs he covered all the instrumentation himself.

On Dancing at the End of the World, which was released late last year, he brought in several studio musicians to expand the sound further.

Plotnick also covers an array of instruments himself including violas, guitars, basses and drum programming — on top of producing, mixing and mastering.

He describes his latest project as the culmination of all his creative efforts to date.

“The writing is a bit like my background in a sense – there’s a wide variety of influences.”

There is certainly a predominantly bluegrass feel to the tracks, but tones of other genres surface here and there from Celtic and country to jazz.

Plotnick says it was while recording Music Is Not a Museum that he started finding bluegrass increasingly interesting.

“It’s kind of got its own distinct language,” he explains of bluegrass, which is rooted in tradition yet offers musicians countless opportunities to throw fresh, contemporary spins on it if they choose to. “You can do all kinds of interesting things with it.”

Sounds range from the lively (The Alaska Highway and Black Friday Blues) to the stirring (Dancing at the End of the World Pt. 2). No matter what the mood of the piece, each is constructed with the utmost of care and musicianship. And little wonder, as Plotnick has been at this for quite some time now.

He was introduced to the violin when he was five-years-old.

Although he focused seriously on classical music through his childhood, he began to experiment with other styles of music as well.

He eventually became a member of the Mount Royal College’s Academy of Music program, which expanded into a five-year career with the Calgary Youth Orchestra.

During this time, he was also a member of the world-renowned group – The Calgary Fiddlers.

Before his 18th birthday, he had performed in New Zealand, South Korea, the UK and all across North America. After studying jazz at Humber College in Toronto, Plotnick made his way back to Alberta.

He wanted to dive right into the local fiddling scene so he promptly checked out the Celtic scene. He recalls chatting with a fiddler who pointed out that in his opinion, melding fiddle music with other genres just shouldn’t be done.

That didn’t sit well with Plotnick, but he found it to be a common belief.

But it hardly proved an obstacle, as he continued to broaden his horizons creatively speaking.

Celtic tunes, for the most part, captured his attention for several years, but these days, as mentioned earlier, bluegrass seems to have really struck a chord – so to speak.

He’s also happy to lend his skills as a session player to a stream of other artists on their respective CDs.

Besides his own projects, Plotnick also runs a summer fiddle camp called FiddleMania! in Cochrane Aug. 21-26.

“I am pleased to offer plenty of reasonable structure – enough for a student to have plenty of direction in their learning and enough for an organized thought process,” he writes on the FiddleMania! web site. “I am also thrilled to offer many opportunities to put this information to use, be it jamming with fellow students, making new performance groups, signing up for extra instruments, or even just hanging out with friends.”

For more information about FiddleMania! check out www.fiddle-mania.com.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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