Vancouver Celtic fiddler Prairie Wolfe never intended to play the fiddle at all. "I wanted to play the celtic harp as a kid," she reports. It was French-Canadian/Metis fiddler Anne Lederman who influenced her to try her hand at the fiddle. "I've definitely always been attracted to the raw, unrefined sound of the fiddle." It is this raw energy and the old-world accents that stand Prairie apart from other fiddlers and distinguishes her dynamic, rhythmic playing.

In 2005, Prairie's talents whisked her from her westcoast home to Europe on a tour with Irish trio Damanta. The band played Ireland, Holland, Germany and Austria, bringing to audiences what Prairie describes as their unique "Christina Ricci meets Ashley MacIsaac" sound. Following the tour, she landed in Boston and decided to stay a while. "I hear whispers that Boston is an Irish city," she laughs. In her short time here, she's already been initiated into the New England contradance scene, playing dances at the Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield, MA. She's also involved with teaching, busking, and frequenting the odd session or two at the Burren.

The Burren is a long way from the church basement meetings of the Vancouver Scottish Fiddle Club, where Prairie got her start and where she met her initial mentor and teacher, Juno-Award winning fiddler Shona Le Mottee, of "Paperboys" and "Lord of the Dance" fame. Before long, she was performing in Vancouver's CelticFest, doing demonstrations at schools, and hosting "Fiddlers For Funds: Tsunami Relief Benefit Concert." "I have been amazingly lucky to play with all of Vancouver's very best fiddlers and musicians, and to know them personally too. It's been a charmed life."

Still, she left that charmed life to journey across the country to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where she studied Inverness style fiddling among the Cape Breton natives for four months. She mentored under Judique fiddler Glenn Graham and performed with Mabou guitarist Pius MacIsaac. Boston seemed like a logical next step, since so many Cape Bretoners before her have brought their unique and infectious brand of fiddling and dancing to the region. "There's a historical corridor between Boston and Cape Breton," she reflects. "There are definitely stronger Cape Breton roots here in this city than anywhere else in the States."

Last weekend was Chinese New Years, and Prairie was pleased to give an impromptu performance at a private dinner celebration. For all her fixations on traditional styles of fiddling, whether Irish or Cape Breton, she remains a musician with global aspirations. "I'm all about fusion, and sharing, sharing with others, giving back, touching people, all that good touchy-feely new-agey west-coast tree-hugging whale-hugging hippie stuff," she quips.

Slan to that.
February 2007