Luke Mercier & Rolling River offer a glimpse back in time to when music was to serve the family or community. A time when recordings did not exist and neither did the music industry standards by which all musicians are defined these days. This music is an oral tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation.
Luke Mercier & Rolling River is a traditional oldtime stringband from a little town called Toronto in York County Ontario, Canada.
...featuring Luke on fiddle, Across the Sea is a timeless compilation of early Black stringband breakdowns, introspective renditions of Appalachian fiddle solos and hard driving fiddle and guitar duets.
Tim Bergen ~ Mandolin
John Sirdevan ~ Fretless Banjo
Luke Mercier ~ Fiddle
Jeff Cardey ~ Guitar
Sandy Klieb ~ Acoustic Bass
Left: Bowmaker John Sirdevan, who has been playing banjo since 1964 when Grandpa Jones showed him the claw-hammer stroke backstage after a travelling Grand Ole Opry show at Massey Hall.
John is pictured here playing on a Luke Mercier fretless banjo that was inspired by the the 1850's minstrel era banjo depicted in the well known painting entitled 'The Banjo Player' by the great nineteenth century American Artist William Sidney Mount ca. 1856.
Right: Violinmaker Tim Bergen, a fiddle, mandolin and guitar player since the early 70's plays on a mandolin made by British Columbia mandolin & guitar builder Michael Heiden.
One of the unique feature of this band is that four of its five members work together at the same violin shop in Toronto. Geo. Heinl & Co. Ltd is a fourth generation violin house that has catered to the needs of the professional, the amateur, the student and the general public for nearly one hundred years.
Long before Luke came into the 'family tree' Tim and John's fiddle & banjo duo had often been accompanied by the sophisticated chording of Old Time Swing guitar player & violin restorer Jack Kemp at Thursday 'stay-behinds', kitchen jams and squaredances. Whenever they needed a confident, solid thump to cover the lower registers, Bass Restorer Steve Martinko would often set anchor.
From left to right: Tim Bergen, John Sirdevan, Steve Martinko, Jack Kemp and Don Hildebrandt playing a squaredance in Scarborough ON, Febrary 17th, 1989.