Musicians of the Midnight Sun: George Mandeville
Mandeville started playing guitar at 10 years old, played with Angus Beaulieu in Fort Resolution
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:
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.
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."
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.
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."