Re: Graham Townsend’s 100 Fiddle Hits - 35th. Anniversary Collection
This CD by Canadian fiddle player Graham Townsend (1942 –1998) is one of the few occasionally available (ebay etc) in the UK, although he recorded many LPs throughout a stellar career which included years with much international showbiz popularity.
According to http://www.ottawacountrymusichof.org/inductees/1990/graham_townsend.htm
“Born in Toronto, Graham, legally blind from birth, grew up in Buckingham, Quebec where he absorbed the rich culture of the Irish, French and Scottish music of the Ottawa Valley that would later mould him into a prolific composer of over 400 songs and a musician with a repertoire of close to 4,000 fiddle tunes.” There’s no more there about the Canadian definition of “legally blind”, but he is more often described as “visually impaired” from an early age.
29 of his recordings are listed at
The only one of these recordings listed on thesession so far is ‘Le Violon’, where the submitter has added a fair amount of interesting background info. This edition of ‘Graham Townsend’s 100 Fiddle Hits’ has just a list of all 100 tunes, but not separated into tracks, which prompted one online reviewer to complain that this makes it difficult to find any particular tune. True. However, one website has listed tracks and tunes ( https://countrydiscoghraphy2.blogspot.com/2018/05/graham-townsend.html ). And the unwavering formula in 22 of the 28 tracks is a medley of four tunes given about 35 seconds each, so finding tunes isn’t all that difficult.
The exceptions (individual concert showpieces, recorded live, with wild applause at the end: tracks 7, 21 and 28) or waltzes (ceilidh chill-out time maybe, tracks 4 and 18) and one other: track 14, Maple Syrup, given a whole 1:15 to itself for some reason.
7 Orange Blossom Special (live) 3:16
4 Four waltzes 3:00
14 Maple Sugar 1:15
18 Four waltzes 3:19
21 Mocking Bird 2:17 (live, complete with bird sounds)
28 Draggin’ The Bow (live) 2:15
Some of the backing might not please everyone, (though may be appreciated by dancers), and there is a different balance in other tracks and recordings of concert performances.
In his comments on ‘Le Violon’, the submitter (lottiemaus) says “Many of his compositions are on the Session already”. It’d be interesting to see a list of these and to see if they have all been correctly attributed. See “https://thesession.org/recordings/3065
Having just posted the recording a few seconds ago, it should be a bit easier to run through the list of tracks and tunes checking those that show links …
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia: “Townsend recorded some 200 of his 400 fiddle tunes. His best-known pieces include Royal Princess Two Step, Rocking Chair Jake, Debbie’s Waltz, Maytime Swing, Black Jack Whiskey, My Dungannon Sweetheart, Swinging in the 80s, and Ice on the Road.”
Some of tunes are on this CD but the only one of those listed above on thesession at present is My Dungannon Sweetheart. Another one of his tunes which is listed on thesession is ‘Murray River’, which was played by Willy Taylor among others.
There’s more info from ceoloachan (from 14 years) ago re ‘My Dungannon Sweetheart’ at https://thesession.org/tunes/1575 , although some of the links there may no longer work exactly as shown then.
Townsend’s LPs and CDs are more widely available in Canada, naturally enough, but not many LPs appear to have been digitised and sold as CDs, maybe because the styles which were very popular in the 50s/60s are less marketable today. However, a lot of the LPs are now on youtube, a number posted by Golden Age Media among others, and a few videos of Graham Townsend in concert etc.
Ref possible royalties, Graham did have at least one child, Gray Townsend, who played drums on this CD and at least one of the LPs - House Party, Rodeo Records RLP 8015 (1987).