Fiddler draws on Celtic diaspora for Barking Legs show

Fiddler draws on Celtic diaspora for Barking Legs show

October 25th, 2012 by Casey Phillips in Life Entertainment

Jamie Laval

Jamie Laval

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.


* What: Jamie Laval with David Brown.

* When: 8 p.m. Friday.

* Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.

* Admission: $15 in advance, $18 at the door.

* Phone: 624-5347.

* Online:


2003 "Shades of Green"

2007 "Zephyr in the Confetti Factory"

2011 "Murmurs and Drones"

To some traditional Scottish performers, the whole of music can be summed up as the songs and tunes of England's northern neighbor and "the rest of it." Jamie Laval has a slightly broader perspective.

Laval is an Asheville, N.C.-based fiddler who, in 2002, was named the U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion. Although he is recognized as one of the world's best Scottish fiddlers, Laval has become as well known for his appreciation for all Celtic styles, from Irish and Breton to French Canadian and Appalachian.

"It's all so intertwined," Laval explained. "What I'm interested in is how each of the different forms has something that is really remarkable that the other forms don't have."

So while he enjoys a brisk Scottish strathspey, Laval is equally at home performing a lilting Irish jig or a Cape Breton hornpipe. He said his sets recently have been comprised of 75 percent to 80 percent Scottish tunes with the remainder devoted to representing his interest in these other styles.

Friday night, Laval will return to Barking Legs for the first time in several years. At his last Chattanooga appearance, Laval was touring with Ashley Broder, a mandolinist with whom he played highly arranged pieces that strayed from his Scottish roots.

About three years ago, however, he and Broder parted ways. This offered him a chance to reconnect with Scottish music, with which he felt such a resonance for as a classical violin student at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in British Columbia.

In the interim, Laval has become hyperfocused on traditional Highland piping tunes, which for all the bagpipe's limited range have a great deal of emotional presence, he said.

Friday, Laval will be accompanied by fellow Ashevillian David Brown, a guitarist with whom he said he feels an innate kinship.

Together, he said, they are able to bring out the emotional qualities at the heart of the tunes, regardless of where they come from.

"[Meeting David] was the most serendipitous thing," Laval said. "I thought I had exhausted every opportunity for finding a backup player in the state of North Carolina or in fact in the entire Southeast.

"When we started playing, I was like, 'Oh my goodness, where have you been?' "

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.