“It’s not just the technical expertise or the mastery of an amazing variety of styles that puts Vermont fiddler Patrick Ross several steps above and beyond practically all other players; Ross’s eclectic taste and raw energy make sparks and create musical magic every time his bow hits the strings.”- Robert Resnik – VPR –
“Accomplished, innovative, imaginative, and supremely musical, Ross captured the adrenalin of a thousand hearts. As the last note spiraled into the stratosphere and evaporated, the crowd sprang to its feet and roared for more.” – Stephen Pedersen The Halifax Gazette –
“Patrick kicks the devil’s ass down to Georgia and back…”
– Dan Bolles 7 Days Magazine-
But to those carving out a living in hills and hollows of greater Appalachia, the value of Mountain Money is clear. Out in the woods for a long day of logging, sugaring, or hunting, the one who remembered to bring toilet paper has Mountain Money. During mud season, the guy carrying a chain in the back of his four-wheel drive pickup has Mountain Money. On a hot summer’s day, the one who knows the way to a secret swimming hole has Mountain Money.
Truth be told, there are many who try to escape the hustle-and-bustle of the city life to live out their fantasies of a rural life. The ones that don’t make it past more than a few mud seasons are the ones who never learn how to trade in Mountain Money. The old-timers who know how to get things done in this-here-particular-neck-of-the-woods may not have much in the way of financial security, but are rich in Mountain Money. They’re the ones who tell the stories of the “flatlanders” who never quite figure it out. Those stories are currency. Those stories are Mountain Money.
The Mountain Money Concert Series is a celebration of these values. The melodies, chord progressions, and song structures are a currency long traded in logging and hunting camps, and in parlors and on porches of homes in mining and mill towns. Because hauling a piano up into the mountains makes about as much sense as building Fitzcaraldo’s opera house in the Amazon jungle, the fiddle and banjo are the instruments of choice for this celebration of Mountain Money. Both instruments are easily carried, project with equal loudness, and are complementary to one another—the banjo’s staccato pulse with the fiddle’s legato melody—and thus have a long tradition of being played in the places where Mountain Money is the only available currency.
We welcome you to our celebration of value that can’t be quantified, and invite you to join in: stomp your feet, clap your hands, and get up and dance if you feel like it. Or just sit back and enjoy the show. Just remember to take a little with you when you go, because Mountain Money is creative energy that grows in value as it is shared in community.
“His ear is attuned to the sounds and contrasts of voices, cultures, and resiliency in trying times, and his music carries meaning more mature than any 30-something human has had time to invent. He’s a listener, and when he plays, we ride the memories of sound he recounts so effortlessly.”
“Equal to or perhaps beyond Patrick Ross’ virtuosic command of the fiddle, is the easy and entertaining style in which he commands a performance. I’m blessed to have shared his stage.”
-Rusty DeWees Actor, Comedian, Musician, Author, Producer –
-By Shaun Machia
When you were 19 you moved away from Vermont, studied in Nashville and traveled all around the world playing music. What made you want to come back to Vermont?
True, I left Canaan at the age of 19 after living at home for one year. During that one year between graduating high school and moving to Nashville, I toured with a Vermont band called, “Smokin’ Grass”. A bluegrass band that blended elements of folk and roots rock. I was asked to join the band on a cross country tour. Needless to say, I was more than excited to participate. It was a great way to see the massiveness and diversity of America while developing my skills as a young musician. We started in Upper State New York and ended up at the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California after many stops including Tennessee, Colorado and Nevada. After that, I was offered a job in Nashville to play in a Celtic Rock band, “Ceili Rain” The fiddle player was bowing out, so she recruited me to replace her. My audition was over the phone with the band leader, Bob Halligan. I moved to Nashville and became room mates with another fiddle player (Casey Driessen) I had met along the way. I lived in Nashville for 4 years practiced until my fingers bled and made lots of great connections while continuing to perform all around the U.S. and Canada.
Patrick Ross: Fifth generation Vermont fiddler
By Janelle Faigant
Arts Correspondent | March 06,2014
“Music was a huge part of my family growing up,” Fiddler Patrick Ross said in a recent interview. “I took to it naturally.”Ross is a fifth-generation fiddle player whose father and grandfather both played, and taught him at a very young age. He grew up in Canaan, near the Canadian border, and his grandparents came from Quebec, where there’s a strong tradition of fiddling.
The 32 year-old is making a name for himself with his band Hot Flannel, which will perform at the West Rutland Town Hall at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 8, to celebrate the release of their album, “Live at the Rialto.”
Ross’s grandfather taught him to fiddle, until he passed away when Ross was just 7 years old.
“He saw me in the beginning stages of my fiddling,” he said.
Ross’s father continued to teach him, and had the biggest influence on him, until he, too, passed away while Ross was still young.
“I found him dead of a heart attack when I was 11,” Ross said. “In a backhanded way it inspired me to carry the torch.”
While Ross was young, to keep him focused on practicing his father came up with inventive ways to keep Ross interested the fiddle, “because at 7 or 8 or 9 years old a lot of kids just want to go outside and ride their bikes and play in the dirt.”
“He had me try different things,” Ross explained. “For example, a wooden baseball bat. Just drawing the bat across the strings. Or a wooden coat hanger. You don’t necessarily have to have the hair of the bow to draw across the strings. You can draw anything across the strings and it’ll make a sound.”
While the sound is not the same as horsehair, which is what a violin bow uses, the creative technique stuck with him. Ross recently invented a power bow for his fiddle – a battery operated reciprocating bow.
“So that I don’t have to move my arm,” he said. “I pull a trigger on this battery operated power tool and the bow moves back and forth.”
The invention came about after a skiing accident that inhibited movement in his elbow and shoulder, and prompted him to find a way to attach a fiddle bow to a reciprocating saw.
The enthusiasm for fiddling his father instilled in him began to pay off as Ross caught the attention of Smithsonian Folkway Records, who came to Canaan, documenting regional folk music when Ross was 12. They recorded him on the front porch of his family’s home. The local press attention it garnered caught the eye of members of Vermont band Smokin’ Grass, and when they felt that Ross was old enough, they invited him to play with them.
“For years I wasn’t even old enough to be in bars but I was playing music in them,” Ross said. “Often times I would have to hide out where they stored all the liquor so that the liquor commissioner wouldn’t see that I was there.”
Recently Vermont actor Rusty DeWees found Ross through his performances at the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center, when DeWees was looking for a fellow Vermonter to fill out “The Logger Holiday Variety Show” tour.
“One of the things that he encouraged me from the get go, was that I put together a band,” Ross said. “Now we’re doing all sorts of shows as a follow up to the tour with Rusty.”
With the release of their live album at the upcoming show at West Rutland Town Hall and several songs available on iTunes now, the band is getting busier.
“If I feel myself losing track of something or not being able to figure something out,” Ross said, “I sit back and close my eyes and really think about why it is I’m doing what I’m doing. And I know that my dad would be pretty damn proud of me.”
West Rutland Town Hall
Patrick Ross and Hot Flannel will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at West Rutland Town Hall. To reserve tickets, call 802-866-3324; for information, go online to www.patrickrossmusic.com. A free CD will be given to the first 10 people who wear flannel to the concert.