The Old-Time Herald Volume 9, Number 1

Feature

Leizime Brusoe: Wisconsin Northwoods Fiddler

By Brian O’Donnell

Rhinelander, Wisconsin is about as North as North gets in the United States. Just about fifty miles south from Lake Superior, Rhinelander was an emerging mid size city in the early 1900s. When Leizime Brusoe (born in 1870) brought his French Canadian fiddling south across the border, the city was toeing the line between its rough Northwoods logging past and a more progressive, modern lifestyle popular in larger urban centers. Brusoe was a good match for the city. He cherished the rough, woodsy outdoorsman life, but also could entertain the city folks with older style dances. His granddaughter Bea remembered, “He was an avid hunter and fisherman. He would go out and hunt all day, and come home, and be so tired. But he would go and play music til midnight, one in the morning. That was his passion, that fiddle.” Brusoe was a man of small stature, but had a big heart. Lola Beers Deyo remembered Brusoe in a newspaper article as “a little guy with a twinkle in his eye and a Frenchman’s feathers in his feet.” She goes on to say “Lazieme(sic) loved people, and his acts of kindness were legion.” Brusoe spent his life playing old fiddle tunes and dances, and worked enthusiastically to present and preserve the music for later generations.

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