For Westville fiddler Vincent E Boyea, music is most definitely a family thing. Born April 23, 1939 to a violin-trained father, Everest Boyea, and fiddling French Canadian relatives on his father’s side, Vince got started with his own playing at 6 years of age, when his father’s cousin made him a small fiddle and bow. Although he took a few lessons starting at fourteen, he now plays completely by ear. The family farm was a stone’s throw from the Quebec border and trips back and forth over the border for chances to play or hear music have been commonplace.
Vincent played his first dance at the age of seventeen at the Westville Grange hall, and has gone on to play with several bands over the years and compete in many contests. He won first place in Huntington Quebec in 1974, and in 2004 was inducted into the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame (NAFHOF) as the New York state inductee.
Boyea learned his tunes not only from family members but also from radio, television and local bands. Married to Louise since 1967, it wasn’t until 2002 that she decided to learn to play the piano in the “chording” style used to accompany fiddlers. They now perform together as often as possible at concerts, community events and nursing homes in addition to daily sessions in their own home. According to Vincent Boyea, “I’ll play as long as my fingers will move.”
Not surprisingly, all four of the Boyea’s children are also playing old-time music in addition to their other pursuits. Kevin, Michael and Kathleen all joined their father and mother with their fiddles at Vincent’s 2005 NAFHOF induction, while daughter Maria chorded on the piano with Louise.
The tunes below include a piece Vince learned from his father, “Golden Slippers.“ Accompanying him on the recording are Louise on piano and their youngest daughter Kathleen on fiddle.