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Musicians of the Midnight Sun: George Mandeville

In Episode 9 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun, series producer Pat Braden speaks to Fort Resolution's George Mandeville, a Métis fiddler who learned under Angus Beaulieu.

Mandeville started playing guitar at 10 years old, played with Angus Beaulieu in Fort Resolution

George Mandeville (left) is the latest Northern musician to be profiled in the CBC radio series, Musicians of the Midnight Sun. (NWT Archives/Rene Fumoleau fonds/G-1995-002-4169)

Musicians of the Midnight Sun is a 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 9 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun:

In Episode 9 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun, Pat Braden speaks with George Mandeville, a Metis fiddler from Fort Resolution who trained under the great Angus Beaulieu. 6:26

When George Mandeville was growing up in Fort Resolution, it could be hard to keep a spot onstage.

Practically every weekend the community would gather for a dance in someone's front room. They'd pull the furniture out onto the lawn, set up a band, and begin to play for hours.

George Mandeville in 1987. Mandeville learned the guitar from Angus Beaulieu while living in Fort Resolution, N.T. (NWT Archvies/©Northwest Territories. Department of Public Works and Services fonds/G-1995-001-3650)

Mandeville was there, playing the guitar alongside icons like Cecil Lafferty and Tony Buggins. He had learned to play when he was just 10 years old.

"You'd take a break and somebody was right on that guitar next," said Mandeville. "It was like, you'd have to wrestle them to get it back."

Mandeville is the ninth musician to be profiled as part of the CBC radio series Musicians of the Midnight Sun.

Series producer Pat Braden spoke to Mandeville about his informal education in traditional Métis fiddle music in Fort Resolution.

Like many Northern musicians, Mandeville didn't receive formal training, learning instead from the musical greats around him.

"Everything was more or less just passed on to each other," said Mandeville. "Everybody played by ear."

George Mandeville (centre) with the Métis Reelers in 1990. (NWT Archives/©Northwest Territories. Department of Public Works and Services fonds/G-1995-001-6422)

Mandeville was taught the fiddle by his next door neighbour, the legendary fiddler Angus Beaulieu, who was also profiled in the series.

"Angus was a great influence on a lot of musicians in [Fort] Resolution, because he had several instruments and probably the first amplifier in town," said Mandeville. "It was almost like every day I was over there."

Being a fiddle player in Fort Resolution required endurance. Dances would go on "from 6 at night … to 6 in the morning," said Mandeville.

Eliza & Harry Lawrence dance to the music of Mandeville's band, The Métis Reelers. Dances would go on for hours in Fort Resolution, Mandeville said — "from 6 at night... to six in the morning." (NWT Archives/Northwest Territories. Department of Public Works and Services fonds/G-1995-6420)

Bands were often paid nothing, playing just for love of the music.

When Mandeville went to Yellowknife, it was a very different scene: rock 'n' roll, teen dances at the Elks, and a generous wage — $5 a piece, says Mandeville, "a lot of money in those days."

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