Fiddler entertains and educates

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Dennis Stroughmatt is not exactly what you are expecting when you go to see a performance from a French Creole fiddler.

Dennis Stroughmatt preforms French creole music with his fiddle in Kemper Recital Hall Tuesday night. Photo by Jason Brown. March 21, 2012.

Missouri Western teamed up with the Alliance Francaise of St. Joseph to bring Stroughmatt to Kemper Recital Hall March 20.

There was a fair audience, occupied by both Western students and also several community members that held interest in music and French culture.

Walking into the event, one might have been suspecting a pretentious, artsy, musical performance. One could not be more wrong.

With his swift movements of the bow, Stroughmatt entertained the audience consistently with French Creole music that one could easily hear being played at bars. Every tune that he put out was tremendously danceable.

Stroughmatt was not the type of character you expected to be playing French music. With a long curly ponytail and a very witty sense of humor, he was able to really connect with the audience, telling jokes and explaining the meanings behind all of the pieces that he performed.

A lot of the songs were 20 verses long, but he would perform only two or three of the verses. One of these was a drinking song that he decided to play with the audience, which involved audience participation.

“I see people leaving…” Stroughmatt joked.  “If I see you fall asleep, I will jump off this stage and hit you.”

Stroughmatt — who honed his craft while living in Old Mines, Mo. — has been playing fiddle for 22 years. He received his first fiddle from his grandfather, which originally belonged to his great grandfather.

Stroughmatt stated that he first tried to play during jam session at a house party in his hometown of Albion, Ill.

They kicked him out to play on the porch.

He has also played with his group “Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp” with big gigs such as playing on Prairie Home Companion.

“One of the first gigs we ever played was the Arch in St. Louis. Then it just snowballed from there,” Stroughmatt said.

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