Willie Beaudoin

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Would you buy a used car from this man? Yes! Especially if one was a fan of the elusive magic known as French-American music, a lyrical trick for the ear that encompasses Cajun as well as the fiddle music…
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Artist Biography by

Would you buy a used car from this man? Yes! Especially if one was a fan of the elusive magic known as French-American music, a lyrical trick for the ear that encompasses Cajun as well as the fiddle music of Quebec and New Brunswick. Wilfred or Willy Beaudoin was a member of a musical family that made its home right on the other side of the Canadian border in Burlington, VT. This was where he worked as an auto salesman and played guitar mostly as a hobby. But his music was on a very high level, encompassing several different styles. Listeners mostly came across him on record in the mid-'70s, when the Philo label released two superb volumes focusing on his family's musical tradition. Of course, the star of the show was his brother, fiddler Wilfred Beaudoin, assuming the ichiban position granted to whoever wields the bow in this style of music.

The brothers were initiated into music by their fiddling father, both beginning to play instruments around the same time, circa the early '30s. Their mother played the piano, providing the harmonic foundation for everything going on, as a mother should. She was the one that taught the boys the music the father was playing by repeatedly whistling fiddle tunes in their ears. Perhaps this was irritating, but at any rate an enjoyable part of the family's history is the image of the brothers, locking themselves in the bathroom in order to practice by themselves. Endless speculation about where the marvelous rhythms of this music come from can end: obviously, the pounding on the door by someone trying to use the bathroom must have had a major influence.

Following the Second World War, guitar-picking Willy Beaudoin had gotten into jazz, an interest he kept up until the early '70s. He had a local jazz group around Burlington that was active up until around 1973, possibly influencing members of Phish when they were still but minnows. For both Willie and Louis Beaudoin, the upsurge in interest in their music resulting from the Philo releases and that era's general folk boom was welcome, but tardy in terms of their advancing physical conditions. Festival organizers were saddened in several situations when one or the other brother was not in good enough health to perform at an event. Over the course of two Philo releases, a large number of family members make appearances. The fiddler's daughters, Sylvia Beaudoin Blaise and Lisa Beaudoin, on piano and clogging respectively are highlights of the first album, simply entitled Louis Beaudoin. For the second documented musical family circle, Robert Beaudoin blows mouth organ and Freddie Beaudoin takes on the demanding job of calling out the dance changes. There is also singing from Julie Beaudoin, the fiddling brother's wife. The family guitarist provides skilled backing throughout.