Trent Bruner

everett_and_mary-low_res.jpgHello, everyone. During July 2019, Saskatchewan lost a couple that meant much to music in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and beyond. Everett and Mary Larson made many contributions publicly and behind the scenes, as well as being friends to many during their lives. The following article represents some of my own experiences with Everett and Mary from 1988 until they passed away.

Everett taught many students throughout the years on fiddle, keyboard accordion, guitar, banjo, clarinet, saxophone, and piano. He repaired guitars, fiddles and both button and keyboard accordions. He judged many fiddle contests and played for many dances, contests, shows and conventions. In fact, I first saw Everett’s trio “WE3” do a walkaround at the 1987 Canadian Music Educators Association in Saskatoon’s Centennial Auditorium while I was a bachelor student in music education at the University of Saskatchewan. I saw a man with balding hair and switching from fiddle to keyboard accordion with a big smile on his face. When I was sitting down to the evening supper banquet that night, I noted to myself, “The guy playing fiddle and accordion in this trio loves what he’s playing and everyone can see it.” Little did I realize history would later bring me and Everett Larson together over the following 30 years to share tunes, contests, fiddle camps, stories and advancement of higher academic research, whether it was nearby or far away.

My time with Everett and Mary began while I was a music education student at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon in 1988. I first met Everett at the Emma Lake Fiddle Camp when he was a fiddle student in John Arcand’s fiddle class. In 1989, he was a fiddle student again at Emma Lake when I attended there as a guitar student. Later that year, I was invited to join the Silver Strings Fiddle Club in Saskatoon, and Everett was there. I then met Mary at their house during these La Ribambelle rehearsals and realized that she was the family member in the background holding everything stable. In 1990, the Silver Strings played backup for the Saskatoon French Canadian dance troupe “La Ribambelle” at their annual show. In July 1990, he was one of my first piano students at Emma Lake when I began as a piano accompaniment teacher. In 1992, Everett became a Saskatchewan rep at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship in Ottawa, Ontario. In 1993, he became a fiddle teacher at Emma Lake, and from there, we had a musical bond and friendship that lasted until his passing.

In 2001, he released his only solo album, “Everett’s Studio Favourites.” I played piano on that session with Calvin Vollrath as the engineer, guitarist, bassist, spoon player and harmony fiddler. Everett also appeared on a fundraising album for the Emma Lake Fiddle Camp with other fiddle instructors and myself as the piano accompanist for these albums. Those sessions were recorded in the garage where he taught many a student, repaired many an instrument, told many a story, had many a laugh and shared many a tune with students and musical friends through the years. I was there for many a practice whenever I was in Saskatoon with either Everett or some of his students for contests and events.

I was honoured that Everett consented to be my academic subject when I wrote my Masters thesis in ethnomusicology at the University of Bergen. From there, he was delighted to learn more about how his family history and musical history, and after I received my Masters degree in 2010, I later presented a lecture based on my Thesis defense as a part of the Fine Arts Lecture Series (FARLS) on the theme of “The Importance of Biographical Writing in Ethnomusicology” in March 2011. For me, the beginning of my development as a fiddle accompanist began in February 1986 at the University of Saskatchewan, and as part of that evening presentation, I wrote an introduction before the introduction at the request of Professor Walter Kreyszig to reflect this history, then Everett played as a part of that same lecture 25 years later. To conclude the lecture, Everett and eight of his students played for a square dance on stage of Quance Theatre at the U of S’ Education Building. We invited the audience members to try a square dance where I called from the piano, and from what I heard from other staff members later that summer, this lecture was well received by all in attendance. The theme of “music as community” was dominant in many ways and forms throughout Everett’s musical life.

Although I have played various pavilions during Saskatoon Folkfest with “Les Cireux des Semelles” from Gravelbourg and The Cleavers with La Ribambelle, Everett arranged for me to play one time at the Norwegian Pavilion during Folkfest in 2012, which was a different experience for me as I had sets with Everett and as a piano soloist. Everett figured that since I married Hilde Midtbø and am living in Norway that I should have learned something about Norwegian culture and that I could share what I had learned after moving there with others. After I played this pavilion, Everett was more than pleased with what I had learned and what I shared with the audiences that year. For Everett, learning in life from many places was important, and he was pleased that I had made an effort to adapt to the old country.

The funeral for Mary took place at St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Saskatoon August 16th with Fr. Hoang Nguyen and Msgr. Raymond Senger as concelebrants. A joint service of remembrance for Mary and Everett at took place Lakeview Church August 17th in Saskatoon with Augustana Lutheran Church Pastor Marilyn Fowlie-Neufeld leading the service. I was asked to play piano for James Steele, The Sawitsky Family and a short solo spot myself that morning.

After their passings, I received a CD copy of “Everett’s Studio Favourites” from the family in August to place in the Saskatchewan Music Collection at the University of Saskatchewan’s Education Library. As of August 20, 2019, this CD is now in this provincial collection. Here, Everett’s memory will be preserved for generations to come.

As we go down the musical trail and await the next article, I have nothing but the fondest memories of Everett and Mary as many in Saskatchewan will adjust to not having them in our lives anymore. But there is a part of me that has gone on with them, and a part of them that remains with me. Rest in Peace, Mary and Everett. We will miss both of you dearly.