From the liner notes…
I've been a fisherman for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate enough to come from a family that had a fishing tradition, and a place to pursue it - a family cottage in Ontario, where I spent the entirety of my summers until I was a teen. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother taking me to catch sunfish and rock bass with a homemade rod, hook, line, wine-cork bobber, and worm. From there I graduated to trolling with my dad, (a non-fisherman, but devoted father), and late-night “Jitterbugging” with my Grandfather. Sometimes, when I was lucky, I'd get to go fishing with my uncles Art and Don, both skilled and passionate fisherman.
Collectively they would tell me stories of my great grandfather Elmer Elo, an immigrant Finn, who ended up on the shore of Belmont Lake, and from what I gathered, was the type of natural fisherman we all hope to someday be.
You see, from the beginning, I was not only hooked on the act of fishing but to the lore that surrounds it.It started with fishing magazines, catalogues, and T.V. Shows (anyone still remember Scuttlebutt Lodge?). Eventually, I got into the books, both prose and instructional. My non-fishing friends always get a kick out of my 100 or so fishing books that reside above my fly-tying desk. I tell them that it's really a tiny library, and that there are more books written on fishing than any other sport; mostly they eye the one written by the late Datus Proper and say “so...what did the trout say?”.
As a lifelong urbanite, all this written lore was a way to feel connected to my passion when I couldn't find the time or means to get to the lakes and rivers. When I got into playing old-time and bluegrass, I was attracted to the natural beauty of the music on a level that I can only describe as primal. As I got to look deeper in this music, I found the tradition, culture, evolution, and comradery as I had in fishing.
If you were to look into the history of the “Parachute Royal Wulff" fly pattern, or at the history of the West Virginia fiddle tune “Queen of the Earth, Child of the Sky”, you'd find that what they both have in common are stories of evolution that span centuries and continents, and are filled with colourful characters. Or if want, you could forget about all that, and be left with two highly useful and finely crafted masterpieces. What more could you ask for? As an artist, I believe the ultimate challenge is to create something that somehow attempts to reflect nature’s simple, perfect, beauty, while acknowledging our place within it. Fishing puts me in places and situations that remind me what perfection looks and sometimes feels like. It forces me to take a closer look than I might otherwise, and be aware of layers that I would routinely pass over. It gives me something to aspire to, dream towards, and makes me more awake to the world. In that way, you could say fishing has been my most consistent muse.
As one might expect, music has also informed my fishing. By virtue of putting a lot more hours into playing the banjo than I have fishing, I'm a much better banjo player than I am fisherman. I find myself telling my banjo students that the very best musicians find the easiest and most logical way of doing things; when you're really playing, you're not in your head thinking. While having a decent instrument is important, anything beyond that is just collecting, which is fine, but it isn't going to make you a better musician. When I'm bumbling around on a trout stream third guessing myself, or in a fishing store trying to justify buying a new piece of gear, I try to be mindful to practice what I preach.
I'm not trying to throw my hat into the already crowded world of fishing experts and gurus . I'd be the first to admit that I'm not an especially good fisherman (although I'll aspire to be till the day I die), or the most dedicated (although not a day goes by that I don't at least wonder what the fish are up to). But I love it for sure, and this album is my attempt to join in its lore. All this might seem a bit airy-fairy for two things as seemingly “down to earth” as fishing and banjo picking, but there you have it...what the trout said, indeed.