Les Raber

Preferred Name
Les Raber

"Leslie Raber (1911-99) grew up in Allegan County, in a family of traditional musicians. His grandfather, a fiddler, and grandmother, an organist, were well-known and active dance musicians. Les's father was also a musician, as were all his siblings, but Les was the only one in the family who followed his grandfather's footsteps and mastered the fiddle. Les's mother encouraged his fiddle career by fashioning makeshift instruments from a corn stalk and cigar box, and finally bought him a violin from Sears Roebuck when he was 10 years old. By age 15 Les was playing for hall dance parties, performing a repertoire he learned at house parties from his grandfather and other local musicians. These older quadrilles, waltzes, jigs, reels, schottisches, and two-steps remained an integral part of Les's repertoire, preserving a fiddle style common to rural Michigan before the world wars and the introduction of Appalachia styles: rhythmic and straightforward, emphasizing clear communication of dance melody rather than fancy bowing and ornamentation."