Gary Morris A multi-talented instrumentalist, Gary Morris heads Crossroads, a leading NB dance band. He also owns and operates Prime Time Productions in Sussex .
Gary grew up immersed in old-time music. His father, Eugene, a well-known musician started Gary on fiddle lessons when he was 5 years old.
Gary was born in Saint John in 1949 and his family moved to Sussex shortly after. He grew up in the dairy town and at the age of 7 played Hawaiian lap guitar with his father and brother Bill at the Queens County Fair.
He formed his first band when he was attending Sussex High School and played for square dances and entertained visiting VIP's at the school. He was just 14 when his father originated a series of Town and Country Jamborees in Sussex and the family band performed on the shows. These shows continued until his father was transferred to Fredericton . Gary was in his second year of university at this time.
After college, Gary returned to Sussex to live and formed Crossroads Band. In 1975 the band recorded the first of two albums on the Pokoik label. The first, titled “ Fifth Avenue ” contained 11 selections including 8 original by Gary . The second lp, titled “Southern Queen”, was released in 1977.
In the late seventies, Gary , now married, started writing and recording jingles on rudimentary equipment in his basement. This was quickly transplanted by an 8-track recording machine he acquired locally. With several lps, singles and many demo-tapes under his belt, Gary decided to try for the “big-time”. A state of art studio was quickly erected by his home. It is as modern as most studios in Nashville and has been almost continuously in use since the opening in 1982.
Gary 's Crossroads Band has been active weekly as well as has become very popular. They had the honour of backing Marg Osborne on most of her local appearances while she was living in Sussex . They have also appeared as the warmup act for such US superstars as Ray Price, Freddy Fender, Chubby Checker and England 's globe-trotting Herman's Hermits.
One of the bands proudest moments occurred in 1982 when they were the opening act for the 1982 Canadian Country Music Week in Dartmouth , NS . Gary and his band have also made many radio and TV appearances over their years together.
Charlie Chamberlain It is safe to say that Charlie was the most beloved of all the Canadian entertainers ever to appear before a microphone, be heard over radio or seen on TV. Born in Bathurst , N.B., on July 14, 1911 , Charlie was a star on all three before his death at Chaleur Regional Hospital in July, 1972. In a way, the road of his life had brought him full circle.
Charlie was quite young when he started to work in the lumber camps. After the long day of axe swinging, Charlie still found energy to play guitar and sing. This trait won him the title, “Singing Lumberjack”.
In 1935, Charlie was on a train travelling from Bathurst to Saint John when a businessman heard him singing and arranged a meeting with Don Messer. Don was so impressed that he put Charlie on the air the next day. The first song he sang was “Wayland's Fate”, the story of a woodsworker who died in a log jam. The station switchboard lit up right away and Charlie became a regular on Don Messer's show.
He and several others on the show won the Major Bowes Talent Search in New York in 1937. As a result, Jimmy Durante, impressed by the size of Charlie's nose, which rivalled his own, offered him work in Hollywood . He declined, however, and in 1939 moved with Don Messer to form “The Islanders” broadcasting coast-to-coast over the CBC Network.
It quickly became one of the most popular shows on the airwaves and when in 1947 Marg Osborne joined the group, her voice and Charlie'' seemed to be made for each other. Neither were glamorous in the Hollywood sense of the word, and people identified strongly with them.
The Islanders moved to Halifax in the mid-fifties and started Don Messer's Jubliee over CBC-TV. They were the number one show that year and for the next decade stayed near the top. It was a great shock to the show's millions of fans when the Jubilee was abruptly cancelled in the fall of 1969. Although a great outcry was raised and a network of private stations picked up the show, it was never quite the same again.
The stress of that year took its toll. Charlie collapsed during a show rehearsal in Hamilton in June, 1972. When released from hospital he returned to Bathurst where he died a few days later. Besides his wife Lydia , Charlie is survived by three daughters and three sons.
Marlene Weatherbie-Goodine Over the past three and a half decades the name Marlene Weathervie Goodine has become synonymous with step dancing in this province. Through her popularity as a dance guest on the Don Messer shows in the fifties, she was the inspiration that kept the art alive and flourishing. A daughter of William and Priscilla Weatherbie, Marlene was born on September 16, 1940 in Charlottetown, PEI. The family’s nine children supplies the Island with three notable dancers and a fiddler. Marlene and her brother George won the Island’s step dancing and fiddling championship for three consecutive years, 1955-1957. She was just 15 when crown the first time, a tribute to her early ingenuity as an interpreter of a traditional dance style. She was already a veteran of the stage when at age 13 she attracted the eye of Don Messer, then preparing a troupe for a summer tour of the Maritimes. Marlene went with him that summer and in 1955 when the show moved its base from Charlottetown to Halifax to become TV’s Don Messer’s Jubilee, she was called over for several guest appearances. That year after winning her first PEI dancing championship, she went on a cross-Canada tour with Messer and brought audiences to their feet with applause wherever she performed. It was during a Messer tour in 1963 that she met her husband-to-be in Woodstock, NB. A year later she and Leroy Goodine were married and she moved with him to Fredericton. They have two songs, Troy and Sandy. In Fredericton, Marlene wasn’t long in opening her now famous dance studio. In the 20 years since, she has trained literally hundreds of students in the art of dance. It would be safe to say that Marlene has taught a greater part of the dancers in this province at one or another stage of their careers. Many have gone on to become teachers themselves. Marlene continued as a frequent performer on The Don Messer Show until the show ended. Since then Marlene has been active on variety shows and jamborees in the capital city area and has appeared on various TV shows including Up Home Tonight. Meanwhile she continues to instruct and perform the old-time country style of step dancing.