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Fiddle frenzy to overtake Rose Garden Coffeehouse on Jan. 11

2013 December 29
by Samuel McLanahan
April Verch - Jake Armerding

As a co-founder and artistic director of Mansfield’s Rose Garden Coffeehouse, I started planing more than two years ago for our 25th anniversary season, now in full swing. I wanted each act during the season to hold a special meaning to the Rose Garden, and they all do in one way or another.

So, about 18 months ago, I literally had a dream about what show would be the one I would most like to see in our anniversary season. I dreamed that The April Verch Band and The Jake Armerding Band would play together on the same stage, even though they had never even met. When I woke up and thought more about it, I got more excited about the idea and worked hard to bring it to fruition. Now, after all that time, the date of Saturday, January 11 is almost upon us.

Jake Armerding & April Verch

Jake Armerding & The April Verch Band

Why April and Jake? Well, April has seen her career and abilities grow exponentially during the past 10 years or so that she has been playing the Rose Garden. In my opinion, she is one of a kind… a fiddle player who has been named Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Champion twice, a singer and writer of songs that can melt your heart, an Ottawa Valley stepdancer whose lightning moves are beyond comprehension, and a world traveler who has played with her band in the United States, Canada, Scotland, England, Sweden, and Belgium this year alone.

Jake literally grew up in the Rose Garden starting with what might have been his first-ever professional gig as a 13-year-old, opening for his dad’s band, Northern Lights. He’s been back many times since as a solo performer with his band, with Mark Erelli, and with his Dad Taylor Armerding. His clear, tenor voice is equally at home singing bluegrass, folk, and even some of his jazz-tinged originals. His fiddle and mandolin playing is breathtaking and his songwriting is absolutely first rate.

April’s band includes bassist and clawhammer banjoist Cody Walters and guitarist extraordinaire Hayes Griffin who has received his master’s degree in Contemporary Improvisation at the New England Conservatory. Jake will have with him Taylor Amerding on mandolin and high lonesome vocals, Jesse Armerding on percussion, and Richard Gates on bass.

What just might be the highlight of the evening will be the grand finale. Through long distance correspondence, the two bands (who have still not met) are planning some collaboration which could erupt into some of the very best music of the season. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see and hear these two extraordinary fiddle players do their own take on a rollicking fiddle tune or two!

Here’s an April Verch fiddle & dance number from her previous appearance at the Rose Garden:

The Congregational Church of Mansfield is home for the Rose Garden Coffeehouse at 17 West Street. Doors open at 7:30 pm with a full night of music getting underway at 8:00 pm. I would strongly urge those planning on attending to reserve tickets in advance at www.rosegardenfolk.com. More information about the performers, including links to music, videos, and upcoming shows can also be found there.

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