Calvin Ardoin is pictured holding a fiddle at an event he attended recently. A picture of his mentor, Joe Fontenot, can be seen behind Ardoin to the right. (Photo courtesy of Calvin Ardoin)
Local man keeps tradition alive by demonstrating how to repair fiddles
If you are looking for a fiddle fixer, you might not want to miss out on visiting Chicot State Park this coming weekend. The reason being that one local guy with the skill to repair broken fiddles will be present making the southern instrument like new again.
The man with the gift, Calvin Ardoin first began this “hobby” of repairing fiddles 14 years ago when searching for someone to repair a fiddle for his nephew.
Through his search, Ardoin stumbled upon another local individual, who would end up teaching him everything he knows.
Ardoin said, “I was looking for someone to repair fiddles for my nephew, and it was my friend Cecil Fontenot who told me about Joe Fontenot. Joe could make and repair any fiddle.”
From there, Ardoin sought out Joe, who had a different plan in mind.
Ardoin said, “Joe told me I could make fiddles myself. So, instead of just fixing my nephews, he actually told me I could start going meet him once a week and he would teach me everything I needed to know about repairing fiddles myself.”
Joe’s generosity and the beloved and popular southern instrument that is the fiddle, ended up creating a bond between the two men, that Ardoin said made them like family.
“I started going meet Mr. Joe once a week just like Mr. Joe asked,” said Ardoin. “It was during those visits that we got really close. He became like another dad to me, and I became like his seventh child.”
Once Ardoin had perfected the trade that Joe had taught him, he began sharing his skill with the world by setting up booths at events such as Jazz Fest in New Orleans, Le Festival Acadian in Lafayette, and none other than Le Grand Hoorah at Chicot State Park.
It is at these events that Ardoin doesn’t just fix fiddles, but he also demonstrates how the repairs are done. He also displays the tools used for the repairs and instruments completely dismantled for crowds to see. The reason he says is for the purpose of sharing what Joe taught him.
Ardoin said, “When I attend events like Jazz Fest and Le Grand Hoorah, I don’t want to just repair instruments. I want to also use this platform to educate and entertain people with the gift I learned from Mr. Joe.”
For Ardoin, the most important part of setting up booths at events at Le Grand Hoorah is to keep Mr. Joe’s legacy alive.
Ardoin said, “I love doing what I do and sharing what Mr. Joe taught me with people from all over the world. Mr. Joe was a master craftsman and I don’t want that to ever be forgotten. I put a picture of Mr. Joe up in my booth at every festival I attend so that its like he is always there with me while I keep a tradition that he taught me going.”
Ardoin hasn’t made his own fiddle yet, however the fiddle fixer says once he retires, he hopes to start working on his first one.
Be sure to check out Ardoin’s booth at this year’s Le Grand Hoorah.