JOHNY PLAYS CAPTAIN CARL’S FIDDLE
As part of the June 9 Town Hall Theatre Mural and Tribute to Wells C. “Captain Carl” Clarke, Johnene McDonald, the proprietor of Face the Music Studio will perform two songs that she wrote for “Captain Carl” entitled Carl's Last Waltz and Captain Carl's Ship Has Sailed on the violin that is now hers.
McDonald is an award-winning fiddle player and music teacher who trained countless students of all ages on a variety of musical instruments over the last several decades. Given this dedication and history, she was gifted a violin by Carl that belonged his mother. This is the story McDonald tells about how the fiddle came to be hers.
About a month before Carl died, Jack Brown and Carl came into her studio. Brown was carrying an old coffin fiddle case and Carl said it was his mother's violin. “Carl said it was my fiddle now.”
Coffin cases in general date back at least 100 years. When she opened the case the fiddle had no strings, the bridge was down and the fiddle was almost black with dirt. “First thing Saturday morning I got out my fiddle cleaner and cleaned all the grime off of it, put on some new strings and set the bridge back up. The first note I played on it set my heart soaring as I knew from that ONE note that it was an amazing old fiddle.”
McDonald has named the fiddle Captain Carl and she plays it all the time at her studio. “I really don't know much more about it except that it is probably a couple of hundred years old. I picture it coming across the prairies on a wagon and falling off because it has a lot of old cracks in its body, but someone cared enough about it to fix it up... Either that or it was in a bar room brawl or something, it has had a pretty rough life.”
“I have always wished that people would write notes about the fiddle and put it in the case so you could trace the history on these old instruments, where they've been, who's played on them, etc. It is such an amazing thing to have an old instrument that is as old as our country and was around when Beethoven was composing music.” She wonders, “Did Beethoven play on it, or Mozart? The possibilities are really up to the imagination when something is that old.”
For the June 9th Tribute to Captain Carl, McDonald will be accompanied by Dave Johns on guitar.