Call It a Fiddle Or a Violin, Both Sound Great on a Weekend in Florida

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Folks in St. Luce County (on the east coast of Florida, just north of Palm Beach) had the opportunity to enjoy two great violin players this weekend (February 27 & 28). One performing Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor; and the other heating up the fiddle with The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

Saturday night at the county fair Charlie Daniels burned down the barn. It was a cold and breezy 43, a temperature at which the people in south Florida just do not function well. The crowd all had jeans and wore their winter wear, but it wasn’t until Charlie started playing that the crowd warmed up.

Charlie showed no signs of the mild stroke he had suffered a few weeks ago while snowmobiling in Colorado. Each familiar favorite had the crowd roaring to its feet, but he really brought the house down with his rendition of Amazing Grace and the memory of Jonny Cash with Folsom Prison Blues.

It’s a little hard to box Charlie’s sound, but his self-described “southern rock” music gives a good picture: – a whole lot of country, – heavy on the rock and roll, – enough jazz to make it sizzle, especially from the keyboard (Taz DiGregorio), – and a strong dose of old fashion boogie.

A highlight at any fair is always the Budweiser Clydesdales prancing on parade or in their stalls. Of the many times the horses have amazed me, this was the first time I had seen “Bud” the Dalmatian up close. He was all curled up in the straw for protection from the cold, but was outside his house and a center of attention. Perhaps he was being shown with the horses since the commercial played which had him jumping brand wagons, to let the crowd know of his true loyalty.

Sunday brought cool weather, but gorgeous Florida sunshine. Almost too beautiful a day to go inside the auditorium and listen to the Treasure Coast Symphony playing Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain (remember Disney’s Fantasia) and Franz Schubert, Symphony No. 8 in B minor.

Lightning up the hall was the guest soloist, Valentin Mansurov. A musically gifted violist from Uzbekistan, he performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor with both ease and fineness. During his performance he was naturally interwoven with the violin, at times his hands dancing over the strings, seemingly as if the music was coming out of the heart of the instrument. The balance with the orchestra was excellent and when the violin did a crescendo up the scales colliding with the orchestra’s forte burst, you could almost feel the floor rise.

A great weekend in this part of the country for the violin (call it a fiddle if the music’s right). Charlie plays a real mean guitar and sings a sweet song, but when he picks up the fiddle; well, … the devil has not stopped running yet. When Mansurov put the violin to his chin, the devil knew not to even bother to come to town.