Musicians of the Midnight Sun: Richard Lafferty

In Episode 1 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun, Pat Braden speaks with Richard Lafferty, an iconic Métis musician from Fort Providence, N.T.

Métis fiddler honed his skills in Akaitcho Hall student band

Lafferty said he learned by borrowing his uncle's fiddle. 'I never owned a fiddle until 1981,' he said. (Submitted by Pat Braden)

Musicians of the Midnight Sun is a new 10-part CBC radio series produced by Northern musical icon Pat Braden. Braden has spent 15 years collecting interviews, photographs, and recordings from some of the North's most celebrated artists, which he is releasing in an online archive.

A new episode of the 10-part series will debut on CBC Radio One's The Trailbreaker every Tuesday morning at 7:40 MT. 

Listen to Episode 1 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun.

Richard Lafferty is one of the North's most iconic fiddlers, but he began by sneaking off with his uncle's fiddle and playing until it fell out of tune.

"To be honest with you, I never owned a fiddle until 1981, but there was always one around the house," he said.

Lafferty is the first musician profiled by the new CBC radio series Musicians of the Midnight Sun.

Akaitcho Hall Student's Band the 'Arctic Ramblers' plays a gig in the 1960s in this photo from the N.W.T. Archives. Richard Lafferty, second from left, played with the band as a young man. (Submitted by Pat Braden / N.W.T. Archives / Akaitcho Hall Collection / N-2000-002-029)

In his interview with series producer Pat Braden, Lafferty reflects on how his childhood in Fort Providence and at Akaitcho Hall informed his musical identity.

"Fort Providence was just a small isolated community [back then]," said Lafferty. "The music really came down through waterways from different settlers… The locals would pick up whatever they could pick up with their ears."

Richard Lafferty (second from right) plays fiddle at a concert for the Pope's visit to Fort Simpson in 1987. (Submitted by Pat Braden / N.W.T. Archives / Reme Fumoleau Fonds / N-1995-002-7702)

At Akaitcho Hall, Lafferty formed a band called The Arctic Ramblers that went on to produce several Northern musical icons.

You can listen to Pat Braden's full interview with Lafferty and see photos from then and now on the project's website.


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