Edward à Polycarpe Arsenault was born in St. Chrysostome, Prince Edward Island. This is the French-speaking Evangeline region of the Island. Edward started playing guitar and harmonica in his teens and only took up the fiddle in his thirties, urged on by his wife. There was always music around: his mother played mouth organ and pump organ and his neighbor, Eddy Arsenault played fiddle. For ten years, Edward played secretly in his home and it was only later that he started playing for kitchen parties (parties de cuisine) in the maisons de rassemblement (gathering houses). Edward played with a distinctive stutter or hiccup in his bow, a sort of dropping of the weak notes and syncopation that gave the music a very driving and exciting rhythm for dancing.
Here are some recordings of Edward Arsenault that his sister, Marie Livingstone, graciously sent us:
Reel des Acadiens was made famous played by Eddy Arsenault on the Party Acadien CD. Edward was the composer and Marie says that he couldn't show up for the recording because he was sick, so his neighbor, Eddy Arsenault played it.
This tune refers to Edward's family lineage: Edward à Polycarpe à Phylimon à Polycarpe à Joe à Placide.
Reel des Mocoque 🎼
Named after another branch of Edward's family
A mémé is a granny so the title would read: Swingin' Granny.