She fiddles. She dances. She fiddles and dances — simultaneously.

April Verch sings, too.

The Canadian musician known for her Ottawa Valley sound kicks off the 31st season of the Crossroads Music Series in North Andover on Saturday night.

In advance, Verch made a unique request. 

“She’s really the only artist who requires a 4-by-8 piece of plywood,” said David Kovner, a Crossroads volunteer.

“Smooth, half-inch plywood, she was very particular,” added Kimberly Adami, a longtime Crossroads hand. 

A member of the North Parish of North Andover Unitarian Universalist Church is donating the plywood and will deliver it in his truck on Saturday morning.

Saturday night, the champion step dancer and fiddler will put the wood and fiddle to good work at the church.

Crossroads and the crowd is devoted to music, and the musicians appreciate that attention, Adami and Kovner said.

“The artists, they loves us, they love Crossroads, they love how attentive we are,” Adami said. 

“I go to concerts and see people talking more and more,” Kovner said. “It truly is a listening room here.”

The room seats 180. The acoustics get raves from the musicians.

For 10 years, the house has had the same sound person, Jeff Chitouras.

The house caters to listening and sobriety.

The drinks are nonalcoholic. Coffee, tea and seasonal beverages and home-baked desserts are for sale before the performance and at intermission. 

Five questions with April Verch 

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your music, and about musicians who have influenced you?

A: I grew up in Pembroke, Ontario, in a region called the Ottawa Valley, which has its own unique style of fiddling and step dancing. I learned that style as a little girl, and then gradually expanded to include other genres that inspired me along the way. I am largely inspired by old field recordings, often musicians who didn’t consider themselves professionals but played with such passion.

Q: What can people who come to your show expect?

A: Our shows feature a mix of instrumental, vocal and Ottawa Valley step-dancing selections. We incorporate a few different roots/traditional music styles into our repertoire over the course of a concert, including Canadian old-time, Appalachian, classic country and Scandinavian, which keeps things fresh for us and the audience. Some of the tunes and songs are traditional, some are original, and a few are covers. We love to get to know people, and we talk about where/who we learned tunes from or what inspired us to write them. I feel so fortunate to travel with the band members I have. They are two of the best musicians that I’ve worked with, and we really click both on stage and off. Cody Walters plays bass and claw hammer banjo in the band. He’s a Kansas native but currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina. He’s been in the band since 2007. Our guitarist, Alex Rubin, lives in Cambridge and joined us in 2016. It’s neat to have the guys switching instruments and taking the lead on their own songs. I usually dance three or four times each set, and it’s a style of dancing that most people aren’t familiar with, so I love sharing that with them. It’s a really good time. We love performing and entertaining, and it’s my hope that we can take people out of their everyday thoughts or worries for a while and on a little journey to somewhere they need to go.

Q: I see that you attended Berklee College of Music. When were you there, and what music venues in the region did you go to while you were studying in Boston?

A: I attended Berklee for two semesters in 1997/1998, right before I started touring full time. I mostly studied while I was there, but I did attend some shows, dances and jams at the Cantab, the Burren, the Canadian American Club and Passim. It was a rich experience.

Q: Do people typically dance to your music?

A: The music we play is dance music, almost entirely, but whether people actually get up and dance or not depends a lot on the setting. For example, at a seated concert, people might feel that same dance groove but choose to stay seated and enjoy, while at an outdoor festival, they’ll be right up in front of the stage letting loose.

Q: A penny for your thoughts: Tell me anything related to music.

A: I think people feel a need and appreciation of folk and roots music because it connects us to our past and because it speaks to our spirits as human beings. It might remind us of times past, or of where we’ve come from or what we’ve been through. At the same time, it gives comfort and hope for what is to come. It endures, it lives, it celebrates, it is the essence of a people. And it’s beautiful.

 

If you go

What: April Verch Band

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Where: North Parish of North Andover Unitarian Universalist Church, 190 Academy Road, North Andover

How much: $25

More information: www.crossroadsmusicseries.org

Upcoming concerts

Nov. 9: Evan Goodrow Band

Dec. 14: Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers 

Jan. 11: Jennifer Kimball with Duke Levine & Sonny Barbato

Feb. 8: The High Divers

March 14: Ali McGuirk Band

April 11: Lohai

May 9: Lydia Luce with String Trio

June 13: The Silks

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