Arts and Culture (2003)
John Arcand fiddles to a historic tune. The undisputed master of the Métis fiddle, his music is more than passionate. He “bleeds Métis music,” a fan once enthused. Now 60, Mr. Arcand has written 250 original tunes that are played across North America and has seven original recordings under his belt. A ninth generation Métis fiddler, he has ensured the Métis tunes of his grandfather and father remain a part of his people and still flourish today. Mr. Arcand is also thinking about the future — a Métis future where his people’s culture remains vibrant and strong. He helped found and is an instructor at the Emma Lake Fiddle Camp, an intensive camp dedicated to teaching the art of fiddling. He also started the renowned John Arcand Fiddle Fest in 1998. Along the way, he worked at the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research in the area of fiddle music research and compilation, the end result of which was Drops of Brandy, a four-CD set that brought together the best Métis fiddlers in Canada. To see him perform is to witness a man serious about his music and in harmony with all that is good. Mr. Arcand is happiest and most at home when a fiddle is in his hands. “I knew from childhood I would be a fiddler,” he says. “I love the constant challenge because you cannot ever master the fiddle.” John Arcand, however, has come close.