Although they will be new to Thomson listeners, the Celtic duo playing at the Depot tomorrow night are well-seasoned in their music genre. Jamie Laval and Ashley Broder have been touring together for over two years, but they each had much more experience before that.
In a telephone interview with The McDuffie Mirror, Mr. Laval said he and Miss Broder met three years ago at the National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest and Festival in Weiser, Idaho. Miss Broder competes in the festival every year, which hosts over 330 contestants from 37 states. Mr. Laval was invited there to give a demonstration on Scottish fiddling, from which bluegrass music and contest fiddling originated.
"And that's where we met, and it was just like immediate chemistry because it was like we were both somewhere not in that world," Mr. Laval said. "We were sort of on the periphery and had different musical pursuits than everyone else. We always laugh that we met at a jam session, but we were the only two really playing."
Mr. Laval, who pronounces his name "le-VAL, as in the valley," said he was asked to do the demonstration at the contest because he has been playing the violin "my whole life, really." As a child, he practiced a few hours daily. Then, he left high school a year early to allow time to devote all of his focus on the violin, studying at the Victoria Conservatory in Canada. Since then, he said he has practiced seven and eight hours a day.
"So after 10 years of that kind of full-on hard work, I think I'm pretty much caught up," he quipped.
His cohort isn't as old as Mr. Laval is, so he said she hasn't been playing quite as long, but she had been touring professionally for several years playing her mandolin before they became a duo.
Mr. Laval said the "immediate chemistry" was surprising, because he had previously only played duets with a guitar player.
"We never fully understood the potential of it when we first met ... but her mandolin supplies a backing harmonic landscape just like a guitar can just by strumming chords," he said. "But she can also play melody while I do chords under her. So this has been a fantastic way of devising our material to weave in and out, where we constantly change our roles back and forth, chasing each other around."
The violinist describes the duo's Celtic music as "not rock and not singer-songwriter kind of thing," but "very, very old peasant dance music ... with a modern spin. ... It's very lively, and it's expressive at the same time."
Presented by the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Activities Council of Thomson, the concert is at the Depot at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce in the Depot, or at the door. For more information, call 706-597-1000.