Fiddle player Freeman Corey grew up on a dairy farm in Benson, VT. The son of a fine old time fiddler, he started playing at age 10, learning hundreds of Irish, Scottish, and French-Canadian fiddle tunes from him. "My father learned many of those tunes from other local musicians, many of whom were farmers and lumberjacks. Once the day's work was done on the farm, my father would play the fiddle or play music from the 20's, 30's, and 40's on the piano. As a child, I fell asleep listening to all those great old tunes."
"I bought a Byron Berline record, "Dad's Favorites", and played it so much that I wore holes in it. I bought every Byron Berline record I could find and learned most every tune."
Their family band, Champlain Time, consisted of his Dad, Freeman Corey, Sr., on fiddle, Wynn Griffith on guitar, Melvin Corey on banjo, and Freeman. They played square dances, contra dances, kitchen hops, and parties around Vermont for many years.
Freeman credits his fiddling dad, Freeman Sr, for the inspiration to play the fiddle, and his mother, Audrey, for being so supportive through all those years of squeaks and squawks.
In his early teenage years, Freeman listened and learned to play tunes from old recordings of Don Messer, Graham Townsend, and Jerry Robichaud. Like his father, these fiddle players had a clear, rhythmic, and smooth playing style. "I bought a Byron Berline record, "Dad's Favorites", and played it so much that I wore holes in it. I bought every Byron Berline record I could find and learned most every tune. It was around age 20 that I met my first bluegrass players. It was fun to try to adapt my style to bluegrass."
Once into the bluegrass world, he heard Stuart Duncan playing with the Nashville Bluegrass Band and was blown away by his technique, tone, backup playing, and tasteful breaks. "I knew that I wanted to develop my ability to be able to get the tone and to try to get to that level of musicianship. The learning curve does not end, so much great music and so many great musicians."
"The learning curve does not end, so much great music and so many great musicians."
His career took Freeman to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and upstate New York. "I had wonderful opportunities to play with traditional players, bluegrass musicians, and swing players." In 2000, he returned to Vermont. "It's great to be back home, to be with family, old friends, seeing musician friends, and meeting new musician friends. After all these years, I am once again doing some gigs with my dad and long time family friend, Wynn Griffith, as "The HayMakers", continuing to play that good old traditional New England fiddle music. I am very happy to be playing with Big Spike, doing traditional bluegrass and great original material.
Freeman has played with the Hilltop String Band (NY), Tobacco Valley (CT), Champlain Time (VT), The HayMakers (VT), No Brakes (NY) and Spare Parts (MA).
Freeman plays a new fiddle made by Vermont violin maker, Thurmond Knight, to which Knight has given the name "Floretta" after Knight's wife's grandmother, Floretta Greeley. Knight's craftsmanship gave "Floretta" her strong, sweet voice and dashing good looks. Freeman lives now in Orwell, Vermont. Contact Freeman at email@example.com.