A few months ago, April Verch was supposed touring through Colorado, and was supposed to be coming to Fort Collins to play a show at Avogadro’s Number (the best acoustic music venue in the area). I was supposed to open for April with my trio.
I had also chatted with April so that she could join me for fiddle tune a day. Since April is a Canadian, I thought it would be appropriate for us to play a Canadian tune, so I asked her for suggestions. I listened to the tunes she sent, and Mitton’s Breakdown really caught my ear.
Mitton’s Breakdown as played by Earl Mitton is fast and rhythmic. It’s got a great groove, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that it happens to be in the key of Bb. 🙂
Mitton’s Breakdown according to Fiddler’s Companion
MITTON’S BREAKDOWN. AKA – “Earl Mitton’s Breakdown.” Canadian, Reel. B Flat Major. Standard tuning. AABB (Hebert): AA’BBCC (Fiddler Magazine). Composed by Earl Mitton (1926-1991), born in Moncton, New Brunswick, although childhood years were spent in Stewiacke, Nova Scotia. After service in World War II, Mitton settled in Fredrickton, New Brunswick. He learned to fiddle as a child, and in the 1960’s played with his hoedown band (The Valley Rhythm Boys) on radio and television out of Saint John, New Brunswick. Mitton also played saxophone and clarinet and had another dance band that played modern dance music. He appeared on the Don Messer television show and recorded for several Canadian labels, and was a summer replacement for Messer on Canadian T.V. “Mitton’s Breakdown” is a rather difficult flat-key tune (it has been nicknamed “Bastard in B Flat”) with a shuffle (‘triple shuffle’) that has some currency, including in the playing of Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham. The third part is Mitton’s variation of the shuffle part, played an octave lower. Source for notated version: Jerry Robichaud (Canada) [Hinds]. Fiddler Magazine, vol. 11, No. 3, Fall 2004; pg. 55. Hinds/Hebert (Grumbling Old Woman), 1981; pg. 15. Messer, 1950 ‑ “Don Messer’s Favorite Melodies” (Canadian Music Sales, O/P). Condor 977‑1489, “Graham & Eleanor Townsend Live at Barre, Vermont.” Foot Stompin Records, Liz Doherty – “Last Orders” (2004). Mariposa 1364M, Rudy Meeks ‑ “Fiddles of Shelburne.” Morris Music, “The Best of Earl Mitton.”
Pam Watson Linnell says
Vi, B-flat…. it always scares me not to be in the sharp keys! Can you tell my why you might particularly like B-flat?
Michael Friedman says
Excellent musical performance !