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Jerry Holland


PLUS Biography (Courtesy of the Artist’s site, 2005).

Jerry Holland (born February 23, 1955) is a noted fiddler who lives on the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada.

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States to Canadian parents - his father was from New Brunswick and his mother was from Quebec. During his childhood, Jerry was exposed to the music of the large Cape Breton expatriate community in Boston. He began to play the fiddle and step-dance at the age of five, and played at his first square dance at the age of six. He made his television debut in 1962 on the Canadian program Don Messer's Jubilee. By the time he wa 10 years old, he was playing regularly at dances in the Boston area. Jerry's family made annual summer trips to Cape Breton, and Jerry moved their permanently in 1975.

In his early 20s, Jerry performed with the Cape Breton Symphony , a group of fiddlers that included Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald , Angus Chisholm , Joe Cormier , Wilfred Gillis and John Donald Cameron . The group appeared regularly on CBC television on The John Allan Cameron Show and other programs. From playing with these much older and more experienced musicians, Jerry gained an appreciation for the traditional style of Cape Breton fiddle music , as well as a repertoire of over a thousand fiddle tunes.

Jerry released his first, self-titled album in 1976. It was his second album, Master Cape Breton Fiddler (1972, re-released on CD in 2001), that made his reputation as a ground-breaking musician. Accompanied by Dave MacIsaac on guitar and Hilda Chiasson on piano, Jerry pioneered a new, more modern sound for Cape Breton music on this album, while still remaining firmly within the Cape Breton tradition. Master Cape Breton Fiddler was a major influence on younger Cape Breton fiddlers such as Howie MacDonald .

Jerry has released 10 albums, and has appeared as a guest musician on over 25 more. He has also published two popular collections of fiddle tunes: Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes and Jerry Holland's Second Collection of Fiddle Tunes, both edited by Paul Cranford . He is also noted as a composer of fiddle tunes, most famously "Brenda Stubbert's Reel" (named for his friend and fellow Cape Breton fiddler Brenda Stubbert ) and "My Cape Breton Home".

One of the more curious incidents in Jerry Holland's life involves the origin of his fiddle. In 1965, his father spotted a fiddle for sale in the window of a local laundry . Thinking that it looked like "a pretty good fiddle", Jerry Sr. bought it for $50.00 and took it home to his son. Many years later, Jerry discovered that his instrument was actually an extremely rare and valuable violin crafted by Leopold Widhalm , an Austrian luthier who worked in Nürnberg, Germany between 1746 and 1776. Widhalm's work has been compared to that of Antonio Stradivari. No one knows how such a rare antique violin wound up for sale in the window of a Chinese laundry in Boston, but Jerry Holland plays this "pretty good fiddle" at concerts and in recordings to this day.
_ Jerry Holland (1976)
_ Master Cape Breton Fiddler (1982)
_ Lively Steps (1987)
_ Jerry Holland Solo (1988)
_ The New Fiddle (1990)
_ A Session With Jerry Holland (1990)
_ Fathers and Sons (1992)
_ The Fiddlesticks Collection (1995)
_ Fiddler's Choice (1998)
_ Crystal Clear (2000)


Jerry Holland is a fiddler strongly rooted in Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish dance music traditions. An active performer and recording artist, many of his own tunes have entered the traditional repertoire around the world. His tunes, books and recordings have remained influential wherever Celtic music is played.

Jerry comes by his music honestly, his father was a musical man and respectful of tradition. Jerry Senior was over 50 years old when Jerry was born and this placed the budding musician directly into a vibrant older culture.

Traditional musicians always have a high respect for their sources. Jerry is no exception. In his childhood, Jerry's father exposed him to some of the last generation's greatest Cape Breton Scottish fiddlers.

The beauty of traditional music lies in individual expression. Because Cape Breton was remote, its fiddle music and dancing kept to the old Scottish style, a tradition that Jerry Holland was raised to respect and support.

From childhood on, a series of fortunate events put young Jerry in the company of many of the greatest Cape Breton musician of the last generation, Winston Fitzgerald, Bill Lamey, Angus Chisholm, and several other less well-known fiddlers, including his father. Jerry Senior also had an interest in Irish music and passed on his repertoire to Jerry, including music learned from the 78's of Coleman, Morrison, Killoran and Cape Breton fiddler Johnny Wilmot.

Jerry has devoted his energies to the music life of Cape Breton Island. He is an emotional performer; his concerts and recordings are always memorable.

Jerry has taken his music to many parts of the world. Those places include Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Germany, Mexico, England, France, USA, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, PEI, New Brunswick, Quebec, Alberta, Ontario and NWT.

Starting to learn the fiddle around the age of five, Jerry was performing publicly at age six. By the age of ten, he was playing at Bill Lamey's dances held in Brookline Massachusetts. It was during this time that Jerry began his association with fine piano accompanist, such as Doug Mac Phee, Eddie Irwin and Mary Jessie Mac Donald. During this time Jerry was an accompanist for his father, and by the age of twelve, he played guitar for Angus Chisholm and Bert Foley on a regular basis.

Jerry's family made annual summer visits to Cape Breton when he was a boy, and eventually, he made up his mind to move there in the fall of 1975.

Many will remember seeing Jerry perform on The John Allan Cameron Show. These shows were taped in Montreal and ran from 1974 to 1977. On John Allan's show, Jerry shared the stage with his hero, Winston Fitzgerald, along with fiddlers Angus Chisholm, Joe Cormier, Wilfred Gillis and John Donald Cameron. During the years that the show ran, Jerry had to learn more than a thousand tunes. Eventually he acquired an extensive repertoire of traditional Cape Breton Fiddle Music.

For Jerry there has been no shortage of conservative influences. From childhood on, a series of fortunate events put young Jerry in the company of many of the greatest Cape Breton Musicians of the last generation. For the past 25 years, life in Cape Breton has surrounded him by people who know and love the music. Digesting those experiences, a mature musician and composer has evolved. Today, his settings of older tunes and his own compositions usually pass the muster with the traditionalists. Jerry himself plays many of the tunes differently depending on his mood. The beauty of traditional music lies in the individual expression.

You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.




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