THIS YEAR WE’RE CELEBRATING 50 YEARS SINCE THE START OF THE BC OLD TIME FIDDLERS’ ASSOCIATION IN PRINCE GEORGE IN 1968!
4th ANNUAL SPRING FIDDLE JAMBOREE
As part of our fifty-year celebration this two-day event will be the best ever, and is filled with fantastic musical experiences you won’t want to miss! We kick off the weekend with a Friday night concert featuring the rich harmonies and unique musical styles of the Victoria-based band, “The Sweet Lowdown.” With three full length albums, an EP, numerous awards and award nominations, as well as vast experience in live performance and musical instruction, we are thrilled to have this group play a central role in the weekend. Saturday features musical classes in fiddle, mandolin, and guitar for players of all levels taught by members of The Sweet Lowdown and other qualified instructors. Included in the afternoon will be a harmony workshop for all and the creation of an Old Time Band including all participants, Rounding off the weekend Saturday evening will see our hugely successful “Dance and Ice Cream Social” where we teach pattern and group dances (and create ice cream sundaes) to the music of our own Old Time Fiddlers and special guests. One price includes concert, instruction and events, lunch/snacks and the dance. With excellent pricing, high-level instruction, and loads of fun extras, this weekend is a must-do for all musicians looking to improve their skills and have enough fun to last till the next Jamboree. We look forward to seeing you there!
THE SWEET LOWDOWN CONCERT – Friday, April 20
7:30 pm at KNOX CHURCH, 1448 – 5th Ave, Prince George, BC
There’s something about living on the edge of the world that tends to encourage far-reaching perspectives. Canadian roots trio THE SWEET LOWDOWN (Amanda Blied, guitar; Tad Ruszel, mandolin; Miriam Sonstenes, fiddle), based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, certainly understand this. With the rough waters of the Pacific around them and the wilds of the Canadian North above them, THE SWEET LOWDOWN have developed original acoustic roots music that draws from earth and sky. As such, you’ll hear influences as far-ranging as Celtic jigs, contemporary pop, Appalachian fiddling, and that particularly Canadian blend of driving tradition and ground-breaking originality. The Sweet Lowdown draw from these styles, but are not beholden to them, instead blaze a new trail with original songwriting and innovative instrumentals. They have toured Canada, the US and the UK, and performed at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, Canmore Folk Fest and toured with Stuart McLean & the Vinyl Cafe in 2015.
Opening the show will be three of the finest young fiddlers to come out of Prince George in recent years. Chloe Nakahara, Brittany Iwanciwski and Ariel Logan will be sure to kick things of in style! Tickets are $20 and are available through the BC Old-time Fiddlers at (250) 565-1025 and Books and Company, 1685 – 3rd Ave Prince George.
Branch #1 Prince George
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 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.
The first branch has evolved since its formation 50 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 evolved 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 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 three Jamborees have been great successes and plans are underway for the 4th Jambouree in April 2018.
Thursday Jam nights bring 50 to 100 people out weekly at 7 pm. On jam nights we offer group lessons in adjoining rooms, both beginner and 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 go on stage together to play some of the new tunes they have been learning, as well as other fiddle tunes, until 9:30 pm. As always, the fiddlers are joined by an array of backup musicians on stage and a room full of dancers on the floor, which gives them an opportunity to learn dance tempos and practise playing with other musicians. This group often opens for celebrity fiddlers that we host for concerts and workshops. They also play for community events as a large group, while smaller groups play regularly each month at 8 seniors’ residences. Besides our weekly jams we have monthly dances from September to March, with rotating groups of fiddlers and backup providing the dance music and volunteers providing a lunch and bar.
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 120 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.
NEWS FROM LAST LOCAL NEWSLETTER – JAN 2018 – Editor Beth Bressette
NEXT DANCE – March 17, 2018
Come out to Pineview Rec Centre and dance the night away (or at least the part of the night from 8 pm to midnight). Tickets remain just $10 – includes a light meal and prizes!
JAMBOREE – APRIL 20 – 21, 2018
WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING?
MIKE SANYSHYN WORKSHOP – on September 16, 2017 Mike Sanyshyn, four-time provincial champion from Cloverdale presented a fiddle workshop for members. By using savings we were able to present this workshop at no cost. Attendees learned a couple of new tunes and techniques, after which Mike joined us at our September Dance to play some lively fiddle tunes and back fiddlers.
FAMILY ICE CREAM/DANCE SOCIAL – On Friday, October 13 many people enjoyed the second (of what may become an annual or bi-annual) Ice Cream Social, officially called “Sweet Steps, Serenades and Sundaes: An Evening of Old Time Fun”. It was a joint effort between the Fiddle Club and the Hart Community Association, and people of all ages thoroughly enjoyed themselves as they created their ice cream sundaes and learned some new dance steps with Laurel McKirdy and Club fiddlers and other musicians.
QUESNEL FIDDLE CONTEST – On October 7 the Quesnel branch hosted the Provincial Fiddle Contest, at which Barry and Beth brought home 3rd in Open, 2nd in Senior and 2nd in Twin. We would encourage more fiddlers to take part in the few remaining contests in the province, as contests won’t be around forever (as well, they offer pretty good prize money!). It’s a personally enriching experience to work up some favourite tunes and present them. Contests in 2018: Kelowna June 2 (Provincial contest), Kamloops Sept 8, Quesnel Oct 6. Also remember the camp that Quesnel Branch hosts every year at Gavin Lake, The BC Fiddle Treat. This year camp is Monday, July 16 – Sunday July 22, and you must register early to get in.
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS AT THE DANCE – Kaydence Shelke celebrated her 10th Birthday on Sept 18th and her mother brought a beautiful Fiddle Cake to the dance, which Kaydence graciously shared with Alex Arnott, whose birthday was the day of the dance. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to them. (For the November dance Kaydence decided she would rather spend the evening in Emergency after stubbing her toe and ripping off her toenail – ouch!).
FEATURED IN PROVINCIAL NEWSLETTER – The Provincial Newsletter, which publishes three times per year, features on its front page a write-up on a member or couple. Branch #1 was asked to submit a story, and the Board agreed we’d like to feature long-time members Jim and Marguerite Mackenzie. Although it took a little convincing to get them to agree, the story will appear shortly in the Provincial – watch for it!
That’s all until the Spring Newsletter. Stay warm and keep on fiddling and dancing!
Beth Bressette, Editor
President: Doug Borden (250) 962-6825 firstname.lastname@example.org Secretary: Beth Bressette (250) 563-1025 email@example.com
120 Active Members, including 19 children/youth and 14 ‘Life Members’ (a special designation with benefits awarded to those members who have provided exceptional volunteer support for the club). Annual memberships, due in April, are $16 for adults and $8 for children and teens.
JAMBOREE: Dates this year April 21 – 22, 2018.
Regular Playouts – groups of fiddlers and backup musicians volunteer their time on a rotating basis to entertain at one of the seniors’ residences or the cancer lodge monthly from September to May.
Weekly Jam sessions – every Thursday evening 7 – 9:30 pm (September to June) at the Elder Citizens Recreation Association Hall, 1692 10th Avenue, Prince George. Everyone is welcome to come out to play fiddle, attend a group lesson, back up the fiddlers with other instruments, dance, or just listen while visiting with friends over coffee. Cost is $3 (member musicians free), Lesson is $2 for members.
Intermediate Group Fiddle Lesson on jam night in adjoining room, 7:15 – 8:00 pm. Everyone welcome. Cost $2. Beginner Lessons 7:15 – 8:00 pm in room off stage.
Monthly dances – Dances are held monthly 8 pm to midnight at Pineview Rec Centre, 6470 Bendixon Road, Prince George, on the third Saturday of the month from September – March (except December). Cost: $10.00/ticket includes a light lunch. Bar and coffee available. Everyone is welcome. For more information call Beth (250) 563-1025.
Executive for 2018, elected at AGM January 28, 2018:
- President: Doug Borden
- Vice President: Barry Nakahara
- Treasurer: Michelle Sims
- Secretary: Beth Bressette
- Kareen Graham
- Jackson Williams
- Patrycja Legut
- Shawnee Newton
- Janet Thwaites
- Last Sunday of January each year – January 27, 2019
- Location: Elders Citizen’s Rec Center, 1692 – 10th Avenue.
- Time: Pot Luck Dinner at 5:00 PM with meeting and jamming to follow. New Executive to be voted in at that time.