LEWISTON — “It’s local music that has shaped me,” said master fiddler and music teacher Greg Boardman, who will take an audience back to his Lewiston roots on Friday, Feb. 11, at The DownStage at L/Arts.

Boardman, who lives in Auburn, discovered a passion for folk music in his teens. Over the past 40 years, that discovery has led Boardman into a dynamic dedication to the music of ordinary people in this part of the country.

“I learned from the people here,” he said, adding the program at The DownStage will pay tribute to that experience.

“I’m going to play some French-Canadian fiddle tunes, and I’ll tell some stories,” he said. This will include some tales from Quebec that he calls “The Hangman” and “’Ti Jean and the Devil.”

Boardman singled out the late Maurice Gagnon, an Auburn farmer, as an important Maine influence on his playing fiddle. He learned a lot from him in the 1960s-70s, Boardman said, and is pleased he was able to teach fiddle to Gagnon’s granddaughter.

Boardman also said Simon St. Pierre of Aroostook County was a particularly important inspiration in the 1980s, as was Lucien Mathieu of Westbrook.

Although best known for his fiddling, Boardman also enjoys singing some tunes to his guitar accompaniment. At this show, he plans to do some songs by his brother, singer-songwriter Kip Boardman, who lives on the West Coast.

Boardman described his brother’s music as country-style influenced by the Byrds and Graham Parsons and that also has some “new country sounds.”

The Lewiston-roots theme for the show goes beyond Franco-American culture. Boardman said his program has some Scots-Irish flavor, “and, of course, our newest influence, Somali.”

Boardman is an influential teacher and performer in venues as large as the American Folk Festival in Bangor to the Maine Chamber Ensemble, local nursing homes and performances with his students. He also plays classical masterworks on the viola at locations in the Twin Cities, and he is often seen locally as he plays and calls at contra dances and plays for Christian worship services.

Boardman’s interest in working with large groups of fiddlers led to the formation of the Mighty Cloud of Fiddlers, which he calls “a ragtag, revolving-door blend of professional and amateur volunteers.” Members have met biennially since 1988 to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.

This interest led to the creation of the Maine Country Dance Fiddle Workshop, which Boardman co-founded with Kaity Newell and Ellen Gawler in 1992; as well as the formation of the Maine Fiddle Camp in 1994.

Boardman teaches strings full time in Lewiston public schools, grades 4 through 8, and at Bates College, where he leads a fiddle group and teaches privately.

In 2010, the Maine Arts Commission awarded Boardman the title Traditional Arts Master through a program that seeks to preserve Maine’s cultural traditions by teaching them to apprentices during a given year.

The 50-seat venue for the Friday show is just right for acoustic instruments, Boardman said, adding, the audience “hears the music the way it should be heard.”

Go and do

WHAT: Concert by fiddler Greg Boardman

WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 11

WHERE: The DownStage at L/A Arts, 5 Canal Street Alley, Lewiston

TICKETS: $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Call 782-7228 or visit www.laarts.org


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