Fort Simpson’s Wesley Hardisty comes full circle

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After spending over 11 years away from the NWT touring and recording music, Wesley Hardisty has returned home in his continuing pursuit of being a career fiddler.

Only 25, Wesley Hardisty has made large strides in his career as a musician. Born in Fort Simpson, He was introduced to the world of fiddle music at the age of 12 after listening to his cousin play.

Wesley Hardisty, now 25, has taken on a leadership role in promoting a teaching fiddle in the north after many years of touring Canada and living in BC. Photo courtesy of Wesley Hardisty
Wesley Hardisty, now 25, has taken on a leadership role in promoting a teaching fiddle in the north after many years of touring Canada and living in BC. Photo courtesy of Wesley Hardisty

After being inspired, he connected with Kole Crook Fiddle Association which puts on fiddle workshops in a number of Northern communities.

“I was very fortunate to take part in the camps at Fort Simpson, Fort Providence and Hay River with KCFA,” Hardisty said. “They would come four times a year and I would take the opportunity to take the lessons and talk with the teachers and whoever was coming through.”

There he had the opportunity to learn from teachers with a lifetime of experience. When attending workshops was not an option, he would spend hour after hour listening to fiddle music and learning the tunes by ear.

“When the workshops weren’t going on it would be me sitting at home for hours on end listening to CDs,” he said. “Reading music wasn’t an occurrence early on, so a lot of it was learning by ear and picking up on all the nuances.”

Then he was given the opportunity to attend the Gulf Islands School of Performing Arts in Salts Spring Island, B.C.

He jumped at the chance and moved to the West Coast.

During his teen years Hardisty kept busy and kept playing. He focused his efforts on recording and released his debut CD 12:12 in 2011. His first recorded effort won him the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Choice award for best fiddle CD.

This opened the doors for Hardisty and he was invited to play festivals and concerts all across the nation.

“I’ve been touring and playing a lot shows but some of my more memorable ones would have to be playing in the 2010 Winter Olympic in Vancouver, playing in the Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards, dozens of festivals,” said Hardisty. “I just love travelling.”

He even had the opportunity to play for the and Duke and Duchess of York, Will and Kate, when they visited the Northwest Territories.

After many years of touring and playing, Hardisty has come full circle and is now a teacher with the KCFA.

It has been good to reconnect with his old community and many others in the territory, he said.

“I always enjoy the opportunity to get back to the territory to partake with KCFA and helping with the teachers and eventually becoming a teacher,” he said. “Being a student then coming around to being a teacher has been a highlight for me.”

Right before leaving the West Coast and coming back to the NWT, Hardisty embarked on recording his second full length album about the experience of coming home.

“Before I moved, I decided a last minute project, that was my main motivation coming out this way was to have something for the folks,” said Hardisty. “To show them where I’m at.”

This new album, entitled Hittin’ Home is recorded and Hardisty expects it to be released in the next few months. Until it’s release Hardisty plans on continuing teaching workshops and taking a leadership role in the local fiddle community.

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