NEXT JAMBOREE – APRIL 27 – 28, 2018
Save the date for our fourth annual Fiddle Jamboree; more information will follow. As in the past three years, it will include instruction from qualified teachers in different levels of fiddling and other instruments, along with a dance and concert. It always proves to be a good time. We will also have a reason to party – it will be the FIFTY YEAR CELEBRATION SINCE THE START OF THE CLUB!
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 49 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, April 27 – 28, 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.
LAST PROVINCIAL NEWSLETTER FROM BRANCH #1 – FALL 2017
Best Wishes from Prince George! We are kicking off our dance season with a bang by having Mike Sanyshyn, four-time provincial champion from Cloverdale, attend the first dance on Saturday, September 16. He will not only be supporting the musicians in playing for the dancing, but will be teaching a 3 hour fiddle workshop in the afternoon, which we are able to offer free and which will assist both beginners and more advanced fiddlers in dance music. Our dances are always the third Saturday of the month from September to March at Pineview Hall, 8 pm – 12, and Jams continue to be held every Thursday, 7 – 9:30 pm at the Elder Citizen’s Rec Centre. We will again present group lessons, one for beginners and one for more advanced, followed by the fiddles playing together on stage while people listen and dance. If you are in our area, please join us for a jam or dance; we’d love to have you!
We have a Family Dance and Ice Cream Social coming up on October 13 – it promises to be a lively time for families as Laurel McKirdy will be teaching some dances to live fiddle music, and at the break everyone gets to make an ice cream sundae!
Groups of fiddlers played at a few events over the summer, including providing music for evacuees. At one point we had 10,000 extra people in Prince George as fire threatened their homes. Many seniors had been transported from residential care in Williams Lake and other areas, and our senior residences, University and College were filled to overflowing. The music helped calm the people, especially the seniors, in the midst of such change and uncertainty.
The cancellation of the BC Fiddle Treat camp at Gavin Lake due to wildfire activity was quite devastating to many of our musicians who were looking forward to being there. To try to fill the void Sally Connon organized an impromptu fiddle camp in Prince George in late July. The venue she chose, the Otway Cross Country Ski Centre, was perfect. The clubhouse was used for lessons and during breaks families could explore the trails on foot or mountain bike. Chloe Nakahara, Brittany Iwanciwski, Maria Newton, Barry Nakahara and Patrick Killcullen taught fiddle, guitar and piano classes, and 25 musicians from Prince George, McBride, Smithers and Vancouver registered. Thank you Sally for initiating this and organizing it at short notice.
Two of our young members were nominated to compete in the Grand Masters this summer in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec. Although they didn’t make the top ten, Brittany Iwanciwski and Chloe Nakahara counted it as an amazing experience and opportunity. They were thrilled to meet some of Canada’s best fiddlers, make new friends (and jam all night with them), and to experience the Québécois culture. Chloe kept busy over the summer playing gigs in Prince George and taking part in a number of music festivals, while Brittany was teaching fiddle in lessons and camps. They will both be living in Victoria this fall. Another young talented fiddler from Prince George, Maria Newton, is in Victoria this fall taking the Music Diploma program at Camosun College/Victoria Conservatory of Music. She will receive some of her instruction under Daniel Lapp, a longtime member of Branch #1 and a native of Prince George. In June Daniel was back in PG to put on a wonderful concert at the Northern Lights Estate Winery, and to spend time with his father, Clarence Lapp, and siblings.
Five fiddlers from Branch #1 attended the fiddle contest hosted by Kelowna. It was well organized and a great experience, and we even brought home 5 medals!
Save the date for our third annual Fiddle Jamboree, April 27 and 28. As in the past two years, it will include instruction from qualified teachers in different levels of fiddling and other instruments, along with a dance and concert. It always proves to be a good time. Everyone is welcome.
Beth Bressette, Secretary, Branch #1
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 15 ‘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 are April 27 – 28, 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).
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 2017, elected at AGM January 29, 2017:
- President: Doug Borden
- Vice President: Barry Nakahara
- Treasurer: Terry Receveur
- Secretary: Beth Bressette
- Michelle Sims
- Ron Kushniruk
- Ken Blair
- Kareen Graham
- Last Sunday of January each year – January 28, 2018
- Location: Elders Citizen’s Rec Center, 1692 – 10th Avenue.
- Time: Pot Luck Dinner at 5:00 PM and meeting to follow. New Executive to be voted in at that time.