Gerry Robichaud comes from Saint Paul New Brunswick. He started learning the fiddle when he was quite young, thanks to the influence of his family and a fiddler called Oscar Melanson. Oscar was bedridden and would whistle the tunes for Gerry to learn. Here's how Gerry tells it: “When we were kids, all we had in the house was the fiddle. My mother used to play and that’s where we picked it up. She had a very good bowing arm. I started when I was eight years old and I had a hard time reaching the floor to tap my feet when I was sitting down. And my fingers were so small I had a hard time to reach the finger board, too. So my mother would tell me, “I think you should wait another year or two,” but I’d say to myself, “I think I can learn those tunes that she plays.” So every time she’d go out of the house and I got a chance, I’d pick up that fiddle. The first thing she knew, I could playa few tunes. And then I got a lot of help from her – she used to come over and tell me, “Hey, do this or do that a certain way.” And in no time I could pick a number of tunes. I got as many tunes as I could from my mother and even more from my brother Fred. And other old time fiddlers used to come and play in the kitchen and I picked up a lot from them, too. I’d sit down and listen, and as soon as they left, I’d pick up the fiddle and try to do the same thing as they did. Later on, Harvey and Bobby got a guitar and we’d put the guitar with the fiddle and it would sound a lot better. Pretty soon they started coming to get us to play for parties – what we called ‘kitchen rackets."
Other fiddlers who influenced his playing were Don Messer, Tommy Linkletter, and Tommy Doucet. He was soon playing for kitchen parties and made his first radio appearance at the age of 10. He left New Brunswick and moved to Boston in 1995 and spent the rest of his life in Waltham, Massachusetts. He died there on January 31, 2013 aged 81 years. His first recording was Down East Fiddling from Voyager records in 1973, followed by Maritime Dance Party in 1978 on Alcazar. He also made some recordings for the Canadian label Banff Rodeo thanks to a deal worked out by his friend Winston Scotty Fitzgerald.
Gerry was also featured in a 1983 documentary called New England Fiddles and shared an album with his brother Bobby called The Slippery Stick. You can also listen to his playing on More Down East Fiddling on Bandcamp.
Gerry Robichaud recordings:
Gerry Robichaud, Gerry Robichaud and his New England Downeasters, Banff/Rodeo RBS-1067, (1961)
-Gerry Robichaud, Fancy Fiddlin’ with Gerry Robichaud, Banff/Rodeo RBS 1212, (1970)
-Gerry Robichaud, Down East Fiddling, Voyager Records VRCS 3105, (1973)
-Gerry Robichaud, Maritime Dance Party with Gerry Robichaud, Fretless FR201, Alcazar Dance Series, (1978)
-Gerry Robichaud, More Down East Fiddling with Gerry Robichaud, Self Produced / Recorded, (1992)
-Gerry Robichaud, The Slippery Stick - Traditional Fiddling from New Brunswick, Rounder Records Corp., Cambridge, MA, CD 7016 (1996)
-Gerry Robichaud, The Robichaud Brothers, (Gerry and Bobby), Rounder Records CD 7016 (1996)
-Gerry Robichaud, The Country Masters, Patio Records CD PR003, Engineered and Produced by Angy Pinkham, Matt Leavenworth and Terry Eagan, (2002)
-Gerry Robichaud, The North Atlantic Strings, Patio Records CD PR004, Engineered and Produced by Angy Pinkham, Matt Leavenworth and Terry Eagan, (2004)
-Gerry Robichaud, The Best Darn Fiddling in the World (cassette), BDFM 5-7008