Branch #1, Prince George, is a vibrant group of fiddlers, backup musicians, and those who just love to listen, who enjoy getting together to jam, dance and have fun together! We are committed to bringing the upbeat, happy sound of old-time music to our community by providing music at various events, dances, and seniors’ residences (in post-covid times). New members are always welcome.
WE’RE JAMMING AGAIN!!!
Although our dances and playout events are still on hold due to covid, we began in October to resume weekly jam sessions – TUESDAYS, 7 – 9 pm at the ELKS COMMUNITY HALL, 663 Douglas St. All musicians and spectators (to a maximum of 50 people) are welcome; cost $5 (admission is free for children under 15 if a parent or guardian will be staying).
In accordance with Covid19 guidelines, there will be no dancing, we remain seated in spaced chairs, and if you have symptoms that may be covid, or have been under self-quarantine, or out of the country in the last two weeks, don’t come!
The jams are taking the format of acoustic circle jams, with the first 45 minutes or so dedicated to beginner tunes. Tunes may be played at varying speeds to accommodate learning at any level. All ages and all instruments are welcome! For more information, phone Beth at (250) 565-1025.
For recent news and upcoming events check out our
BRANCH #1 CONTACT and MEMBERSHIP
Branch Mailing Address
Box 416, Prince George, BC V2L 4S2
Phone or E-mail
President: Beth Bressette (250) 565-1025 email@example.com
Vice President: Shawnee Newton (250) 568-2215 firstname.lastname@example.org
Almost one hundred Active Members, including 22 children/youth and 16 ‘Life Members’ (special designation with benefits awarded to those members who have provided exceptional volunteer support for the club). Within our membership there are 37 fiddlers and 24 backup musicians. Annual membership, due 01 September, is $16 for adults and free for children and teens with an adult member. Due to Covid and limited club activities, Membership Renewal is on hold for now.
UPCOMING REGULAR EVENTS
MONTHLY DANCES – Third Saturday of each month, Sept – Mar at the Elks Hall, 663 Douglas St. Come out and dance the night away, 7 to 11 pm. Tickets remain just $10 – includes a light meal and prizes! (CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE)
WEEKLY JAM SESSIONS – every Tuesday evening 7 – 9 pm, October to June.
PLAYOUTS – groups of fiddlers and backup musicians volunteer their time on a rotating basis to regularly entertain at one of the seniors’ residences or the cancer lodge monthly from September to May. Musicians also entertain at Special Events in the community as requested. (Cancelled until further notice)
GUEST INSTRUCTORS – The club occasionally brings in a renowned fiddler to put on a concert and provide group instruction (cost to students covered by the club) and individual private lessons if desired.
HISTORY of BRANCH #1
Informal fiddling jam sessions in the 1960s in Prince George led to the formation of the BC Old Time Fiddlers’ Association in 1968 in Prince George that would bring all fiddlers and backup musicians together to further promote and encourage the art of old-time fiddling. The founding members became the first board, but other enthusiasts quickly joined in. The board formed their own constitution and held their first contest in 1970. For the early years the contest was held in conjunction with the Fall Fair and was extremely popular. Guest fiddlers in the early years (who were also judges) included Al Cherney, Graham Townsend, Calvin Vollrath and Reg Bouvette. Fiddlers came from all over the province as well as Alberta and the US to enter the contests, which eventually led to the formation of other branches throughout the province. In 1978 a group was formed to head up a provincial association and Prince George became Branch #1 of the British Columbia Old Time Fiddlers’ Association. The Prince George club became very active in the 1970s and 80s, and in 1977 had two 16 foot giant fiddles built to scale that decorated parade floats and contest halls for many years. The Championship Contest continued to be held in Prince George for 1978 and 79, and after that it began to rotate throughout the branches. Prince George hosted the Provincial Championships in 1989 and 2014 to mark the club’s 20th and 45th Anniversaries. In November 2018 we had a fantastic evening to mark our 50 YEAR CELEBRATION. There was a full house of 135 tickets for a catered dinner, concert featuring former and current members performing tunes written by some of the early members, and a dance. We even brought in one last showing of our GIANT FIDDLES, which were created for the club in the 70s.
The first branch has evolved since its formation 53 years ago, and we currently have a good mix of all ages participating in jams, lessons, dances, jamborees, play-outs, performances and volunteering. The branch has grown and changed, and become a more vibrant part of the community. Like many other branches, the Prince George branch became concerned with decreasing numbers of contestants in the contests, and in 2015 replaced the contest with a Jamboree, a fun weekend filled with workshops for various levels of fiddling and backup, as well as a concert, dinner and dance. Our first five Jamborees have been great successes and plans are underway for the 6th Jambouree, which will happen after the coronavirus has ended.
Before Covid, our Thursday Jam nights brought 50 to 100 people out weekly at 7 pm; at least half of these folks come to listen and dance. On jam nights we offered group lessons in adjoining rooms, both beginner and intermediate/advanced, for the first 45 min while the accompanists have their opportunity to provide songs and music for the dancers in the main hall. A weekly group fiddle lesson was a dream of two of our members who have since passed away, Charlotte Lapp and Ardea Wylie. After their lesson this mixed group of children, teens and adults of all levels of ability then went on stage together to play some of the new tunes they had been learning, as well as other fiddle tunes, until 9:30 pm. As always, the fiddlers were joined by an array of backup musicians on stage and a room full of dancers on the floor, which gave them an opportunity to learn dance tempos and practise playing with other musicians. This group often opened for celebrity fiddlers that we hosted for concerts and workshops. They also played for community events as a large group, while smaller groups played regularly each month at 8 seniors’ residences. Besides our weekly jams we had monthly dances from September to March, with rotating groups of fiddlers and backup providing the dance music, and volunteers providing a lunch and bar.
Covid has changed all of this. We don’t know for certain what the future will look like, but for now we are jamming and looking forward to the day we can again hold dances and play at senior residences.
The club is able to continue only as long as we have helpful and willing volunteers, which can be challenging in this busy day and age. We now have a Facebook page, a valuable way to share upcoming events and new fiddle tunes. With our membership at near 100 and new fiddlers coming all the time, we believe the club is an inspiration to the community to develop an appreciation for old time fiddle music, as well as being a source of learning and enjoyment for all member musicians and supporters.
Executive for 2020, elected at AGM January 26, 2020 and extended to January 2022:
- President: Beth Bressette
- Vice President: Shawnee Newton
- Treasurer: Michelle Sims
- Secretary: Chris Pittenger (currently on leave)
- Kerry Williams
- Corey Newton
- Barry Nakahara
- Alex Arnott
Annual General Meeting
- Next AGM will be held January 15, 2022 (this will be confirmed closer to the date)
- Location: Elks Community Hall, 663 Douglas St Prince George
- Time: Pot Luck Dinner at 5:00 PM with meeting and monthly dance to follow at 7 pm. New Executive to be voted in at that time.