Bertrand Déraspe is a fiddler from the Magdalen Islands (Iles de la Madelaine), a small chain of islands off the East Coast of Canada. He was born in Point-aux-Loups and worked as a lobster fisherman when not busy fiddling. He inherited a large répertoire of Acadian and "madelinots" tunes from his father, Arnold Deraspe and other Acadian fiddlers. Bertrand started playing fiddle when he was 4 years old and was already playing for weddings when he was 6. He has been a member of various music groups, including Suroit, Les Clapotis, and Vent'arrière. He recorded a solo album called "Mes Racines" (my roots) - featuring the traditional fiddle style of the Magdalen Islands as well as other Acadian styles from PEI and Chéticamp in Cape Breton.
The Magdalen Islands are a group of small islands in the shape of a fishook that lie in the Gulf of St. Lawrence between New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Gaspé and Newfoundland. You can get there by airplane but the most rewarding trip is by boat, either from Montreal (3 days and 2 nights) or on a 5 hour ferry ride from Souris in Prince Edward Island. The main sources of income are fishing, hunting and tourism. The fiddling tradition is very strongly tied to the fishing industry and the "Madelinots" share the rich maritime tradition of the Acadians from PEI, New Bruswick and Cape Breton. We first discovered Bertrand through his CD "Vent'arrière" with Patrice Deraspe and Carole Painchaud. The first tune was "Célestin à Jos" and it totally blew us away. The recording starts off with the "toc-a-toc" sound of the old one lung "Make or Break" fishing boat motor and the fiddler takes up the off-beat rhythm and launches into the tune without a pause.
Below are some of Bertrand's tunes that he taught at the Festival of American Fiddle tunes in Port Townsend WA. They are played slowly.