A born musician, singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist, Jim Fidler lives on the north atlantic island of Newfoundland. In his childhood he studied classical piano and music theory at the Maritime Conservatory of Music In Halifax, Nova Scotia as an honours student and his been involved in various musical projects since playing and producing everything from bluegrass to reggae; but, his main passion has always been Newfoundland and Labrador; her people and her culture.
As an independent recording artist, his first completely self-written, self-produced solo effort, GYPSY, on which Jim sings and plays twelve different instruments, has won awards for Album of the Year and Independent Album of the Year in Newfoundland And Labrador, a nomination for an East Coast Music award in the category "roots/traditional", and CBC Radio's national program Roots and Wings selected GYPSY as one of the top 25 albums from around the world in the fall of 1996. In 1997 after hearing the album, Iona Records President, Ronnie Simpson signed Jim to a European record deal, the first for a solo Newfoundland artist.
Mark Vaughan Jackson of the Evening Telegram writes: There is no musical genre or label that fits this album. There are influences from Newfoundland, Jamaica, North Africa, Portugal and Spain, Ireland, the Gypsy tradition, folk and others. But they are not just Fidler's versions of these musical styles - he has taken them, interpreted them and then used some of their influences to flavour music that seemingly comes straight from his soul.
At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I wonder if a part of this album's power comes from the fact that Fidler is Blind. I obviously know nothing of what life is like for a blind person and can only guess that it is largely based on sound. If this is indeed true perhaps that explains the wonderful tones, depths, textures and vivid pictures that Fidler's music paint for the listener.
After hearing Jims music, the producers of Needfire a Toronto Mervish Production, immediately wanted Jim and his music in their production. He was featured as one of the star performers in the highly successful maiden run at Toronto's Princess of Wales theatre in the summer of 1998. In the shows second advent at the Royal Alexandra theatre in Toronto in the winter of 2000, Jim is even more prominently featured.
Jim released his second solo album Friendly Fire in November of 2000. This album again is completely written and produced by Fidler and features Mary Jane Lamond and other members of the Needfire Cast.
...And throughout it all, Fidler is there performing on his usual multitude of instruments and welcoming guest musicians to add Gaelic words, Arabic chants, smooth sax lines, skirling pipes and more.
This is a more eclectic recording than Gypsy, which had a tad more of the acoustic traditional sound in its pedigree. With Friendly Fire we have a broader electronic soundscape, club-style drum effects and the judicious application of distortion effects to add a few pleasantly jagged edges. Mark Vaughan Jackson - The Evening Telegram
Aside from his own solo career, Jim is also known for his work as producer with such acts as: "THE MASTERLESS MEN", "GREAT BIG SEA", "THE CELTIC CONNECTION" and Gayle Tapper. Additionally, Jim's percussion work is predominantly featured on the highly critically acclaimed solo album, "NA KEEN AFFAIR", by Bothy Band uilleann pipe great Paddy Keenan. Jim also produced an album for Eamonn Dillon, fellow Needfire performer and multiple all-Ireland uilleann pipe champion. As well, Jim produced an album for Atlantic Union, a talented group hailing from the UK and the US.
From 2002 through 2003, Jim brought together some of Newfoundland's finest musicians including Irish Descendents Graham Wells and Mike Hanrahan, jazz guitarist Mark Belbin, blues master Scott Goudie and two friends from the french island of St. Pierre and Morocco. The St. Pierre musician, Thierry Artur, a jazz horn player and the Moroccan, Lekbir Halili, a traditional Arabic singer/percussionist.
This project, "MUSAIK, IN THIS WORLD", is a call for world peace and blends styles as diverse as North African Raai, Reggae and Celtic music. The album is also linguistically diverse, being about half and half in English and Arabic, with some French thrown in for good measure. Jim's hope for this CD is to reach a broad range of people and to encourage not only tolerance, but mutual, cross-cultural respect. It was recorded and mixed entirely at Jim's studio, The Roots Cellar, in St. John's, Newfoundland. The album was nominated for an ECMA in 2004 for urban recording of the year.
In June of 2005, Jim released his fourth recording, Midnight Rover, a rich and sometimes playful journey inspired by two recent trips to Ireland since autumn of 2004.
Kevin Kelly, the Newfoundland Herald writes: It's been 10 years since local singer/songwriter JIM FIDLER released his highly-acclaimed album, Gypsy. Now Fidler has recently released his latest CD, Midnight Rover. The new album is filled with Fidler's trademark Celtic sound as well as soothing instrumentals. However, there are some pop influences as well. Included on the album are covers of Roxy Music's '80s classic Avalon and Sting's romantic Fields of Gold, both almost as good as the originals. Fidler recently organized the first-ever Atlantic Crossroads Festival, a musical extravaganza that showcased the best of Irish and Newfoundland singers at various local clubs. Fidler is also involved with a new podcast radio program entitled Republic of Avalon Radio, which showcases local music. You can hear the program by visiting http://www.republicofavalonradio.com
Jims most recent travels have brought him to Ireland on a musical exchange between the two islands. Along with Ron Hynes, Pamela Morgan, Colleen Power, Darrell Power and Hugh Scott, Jim was featured during Corks City of Culture at the Triskell Arts Theatre in downtown cork.
The second leg of the exchange was coordinated by Fidler who orchestrated the first annual Atlantic Crossroads Festival which took place in downtown St. John's from June 24-28, 2005 with a closing gala at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre. The festival was an exciting success and the closing gala a truly magical evening. Jim was also musical director of the gala which included some of Newfoundland and Irelands finest singer/songwriters, the Shawn Silver Irish Dancers and an all-star backing band.
Jims other interests include all types of radio. In the spring of 2005 Jim started Newfoundland's first podcast (internet radio). The show, Republic of Avalon Radio, has more than 19,000 listeners weekly, worldwide and Jim's music has been featured on many other podcasts worldwide. check out www.republicofavalonradio.com