98-year-old fiddler wows crowds during Calgary Stampede: ‘He’s got stamina’

Music is always a big part of the celebrations during the Calgary Stampede. And there’s one musician in the Calgary area who’s been hitting a high note with the crowds a lot longer than most: Reg Evans.

The fiddler was playing Thursday for patients outside the High River General Hospital.

“It’s something I look forward to all the time, just to come and play,” he said.

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Reg is also looking forward to an upcoming celebration with friends and family.

“I’m going to be 98 on Monday,” he said.

He’s been a musician for virtually all of those years, bringing along an old instrument Thursday to show to a Global News crew.

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“That’s the violin I learned to play on when I was 8 years old,” he said. “My dad made that out of a cigar box.”

Reg was accompanied at the High River General Hospital by his longtime bandmates, 82-year-old accordionist Shirley McDowell and 80-year-old keyboardist Bill Holmes.

Holmes said he sometimes finds it a challenge to keep up with the fiddler.

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“He can go for hours,” Holmes said with a laugh. “Yeah, stamina, he’s got stamina!”

That stamina also came in handy during the fiddler’s working life.

“I farmed all my life, grain and raising cattle,” he said.

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And the fiddler shows no signs of slowing down.

“I just feel on top of the world — I walk a mile every morning,” Evans said. “I’m like the little rabbit: I just keep a-hoppin’ along.”

Asked what keeps Evans going, his son Jim Evans was quick with a reply.

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“Oh, it’s the music, absolutely,” Jim said. “It gets him up in the morning and he’ll say he’s going to retire from playing, but he’ll never retire from playing.”

Reg says making music remains one of the highlights of his life.

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“It gives me a lift,” he said. “to make the day a little brighter for somebody else.”

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