Marg Osburne was born in Moncton, New Brunswick in 1928 and received her only formal vocal training as a member of hub-city choirs.
She got her first radio singing job as a result of a dare. She was only seventeen at the time and a cousin bet her she couldn’t have the nerve to answer a newspaper advertisement for a girl vocalist inserted by CKCW in Moncton. Marg answered the ad and got the job.
Don Messer was driving through Moncton in 1947 and heard Marg singing on CKCW, billed as “The Girl From the Singing Hills”. He hired her immediately as a fill-in for Charlie Chamberlain who has been hurt in a car accident.
The Islanders were then broadcasting out of CFCY in Charlottetown, PE three nights a week and the program was carried coast-to-coast by the CBC.
Marg and Charlie quickly became one of the most beloved duet teams on radio and records in the years that followed. Marg’s versatile vocal solos were also extremely popular and her records sold well.
In the early 1960’s they moved to Halifax with Don Messer and made the transition to TV. It was a media which enlarged her vast army of fans dramatically.
Marg was loved by those who knew her, not only because of her pleasant lyrical singing voice, but because of her cheerful outlook and personality.
After Don Messer’s death in 1983, Marg went on the road as a lounge singer concentrating most of her appearances in the western provinces.
In July 1977, she collapsed during a stage show in Rocklyn, Ontario, and died before reaching hospital.
Norman "Normie" Hamilton
Norman 'Normie' Hamilton was best known as the piano player for The Maritime Farmers. He began performing as a young boy. This was in 1931 and along with his childhood friend, Ned Landry, he appeared in a group known as, “Wassons Warblers” and played the mouthorgan on Station CFBO with them. They also played at senior citizens homes, performed benefits and appeared at shows in the old Kent Theatre. At that time, CFBO had only 850 watts and was located on the 2nd floor of the Admiral Beatty Hotel. Later the station moved to Church St. and became known as CHSJ.
Normie entered the army when war broke out and was sent overseas. He continued to be active in music even while he was stationed in Europe. He played guest spots with the Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey Band and with Benny Goodman’s band. They felt he had a lot of potential as a piano player.
When he returned to Saint John after the war, he rejoined “The Maritime Farmers”. He continued with them until the show ended on radio. The Maritime Farmers were then introduced to CJSJ-TV viewers where they were very popular for almost 15 years.
Norman, nicknamed, “The Little Professor” was well-known and liked by audiences. His career continued on for many years after The Maritime Farmers left TV. He played many years with Ned Landry, making recordings, doing guest appearances on CBC radio and at local functions
(Norman has passed away since the writing of this bio)
Karl was born on October 12, 1925 in Fredericton, NB. He learned to play the guitar when he was a boy and enjoyed singing western songs.
He had his own radio show on Radio Station CFNB in the early 1950’s playing both the early morning slot on weekdays at 6:30am and the 2:47pm slot on Saturday afternoons. He moved to CJCJ Radio in Woodstock in 1959.
Karl was employed in his family’s construction business. He was married and had two children.
He wrote many of his own songs and had his first recording date in 1950 releasing a single, “Castle of Cards” backed with “Walk Ever Close to Me”. In 1953 he released an LP “Some Country - Some Yodel with Karl Lofstrom”. The LP was on the Banff label.
Known as the “Yodelling Nightherder”, Karl and his friend Aubrey Hanson made many personal appearances throughout the province as well as appearing together on radio station CFNB. Some of Karl’s compositions were, “Walk Ever Close to Me”, “Where the Nashwaak Stream in Flowing”, “Queen of the Cowgirls”, “When the Snowbirds Fly Out O’er the Rockies”.
Karl died in 1969 at the age of 44.
The Diamond Trio
The Diamond Trio was organized in 1959 by Ron Bailey, a Fredericton musician. The group performed on Radio Station CFNB, with Ron on vocals, Duane Pond on bass and Wayne Nightingale on guitar. Later they decided to work more as a vocal trio and the group took the name The Diamond Trio since they were sponsored by the local cab company called Diamond Taxi. Mr. Bailey stayed with the trio a short time and was replaced by Allan Sherwood. The trio’s style was polished and refined as their voices blended together in close harmony.
Their first appearance on TV was on CHSJ’s “Spotlight on Talent”. The Diamond Trio appeared on Don Messer’s Jubilee approximately 3 to 4 times a year between 1960 and 1970. This national exposure led to many engagements in the Maritimes and Maine.
The trio also produced its own “Diamond Trio Show” on CJSJ-TV in Saint John over a period of three summers and appeared on the Earl Mitton Show and the Maritime Farmers Show. They appeared on the CBC show “Gazette”, and together with Marg Osborne starred in a number of times on a national radio program featuring the Sing-Along Jubilee Singers, Anne Murray and Catherine MacKinnon. At the same time the TV shows were being presented, the trio maintained its radio show on Radio Station CFNB and on CBC Radio in Fredericton.
The Diamond Trio took a break from performances during the period of 1970 to 1983 but decided, at that time, to reunite for the purpose of public appearances and to present another radio series. Recently they have appeared on CHSJ’s “Variety” in Saint John, and the ATV series “Up Home Tonight”.
The trio is currently appearing every Sunday evening on Country KHJ-FM Radio in Fredericton. The Diamond Trio’s repertoire is wide and varied, including several original songs written by Allan, Duane and Wayne; however, they are best known for their rendition of the western classics, particularly songs originally performed by the Sons of the Pioneers.
The trio plans to continue performing as a group for two main reasons: they have always been very close friends and they love singing together.
Ivan Curtis Hicks
Ivan Curtis Hicks, son of Bessie and Curtis Hicks, was born in Upper Sackville on July 6, 1940 . Ivan graduated from Sackville High School and has a B.A and B.E from Mount Allison University and a Master of Education from U.N.B. Ivan began teaching at Salisbury Regional High School in 1964.
Ivan Learned to play a number of instruments including mandolin, fiddle, Hawaiian and Spanish guitars and was playing for square dances with his dad, (himself a well-known and respected fiddler), at the early age of seven.
From the mid 50's to the early 60's, Ivan was the fiddler for “The Golden Valley Boys”, a band he helped to organize. For a period of about seven years, through their concerts and radio shows, they remained a popular band in Eastern Canada . Three other original members were Ron Goodwin, Del Wheaton and Bert Williams Estabrooks. Before disbanding, they recorded a single; also a long playing record featuring The Golden Valley Boys was released across Canada on the RCA Camden Label.
In the 1960's, Ivan and Del Wheaton formed the “Marshwinds” Dance Band which has played through Eastern Canada .
In 1970, Ivan married the former Vivian Paulette Webb of Lr. Millstream. Vivian also teaches school in Salisbury and they live in Upper Coverdale, NB(formerly in Riverview). She has become an integral part of Ivan's musical endeavors, assisting both the “Marshwinds” and “Maritime Express” with their sound and lighting. She also plays a number of instruments including piano and guitar and sings with Ivan.
Ivan Hicks and Maritime Express was formed in 1979 after Ivan released his first fiddling recording, “Fiddling For Fun and Friends”. Along with Ivan and Vivian, other members are Del Wheaton, Tom Johnson and John Dalgleish. Through their many appearances, recordings, benefits and concerts, they have many fans across Canada and the United States .
Ivan has competed and won many fiddling championships. He won the Maritime Old-Time Fiddling Contest in 1979-80 and was a finalist at the Canadian Old-Time Fiddling Contest in Shelburne , Ontario .
Ivan has continued to promote old-time fiddling by helping to form the Maritime Fiddlers Association, organizing and conducting fiddle workshops, hosting his own radio fiddle program, establishing the “Curtis Hicks Memorial Awards”, and teaching youngsters and adults the art of old-time fiddling.
Walter Tompkins Every generation or so a person comes along who leaves a giant imprint on country music. They are the “builders”, the men and women who give a boost to country performers.
Such a person is Walter (Walt) Tompkins of Jacksonville, a few miles from Woodstock . For the last 26 years, from 1959 to 1985, Walt has helped hundreds of performers, young and old, male and female. And he's still doing it.
He's done it in a variety of ways. As a radio announcer with Radio Station CJCJ in Woodstock , starting in 1959, he launched the popular Open House Show. These two-hour shows at the Capital Theatre went on for six years, the weekly country music being aired over CJCJ. An Open House anniversary show was held in 1984 as part of CJCJ's 25 th anniversary.
Later, in the 1960's, Walt was asked to organize and emcee a fiddle contest for Old Home Week. He agreed. Later the contest was expanded to include pickers and singers, and then dancers. It's still one of the biggest attractions for Woodstock 's Old Home Week.
In more recent years, Walt has helped organize the annual Bluegrass and Strawberry Festival held in Woodstock .
Literally thousands of country music performers have performed for Walt since 1959. He has encouraged them all.
New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Famers who have performed on Walt's shows include Kidd Baker, Ned Landry, Aubrey Hanson, The Diamond Trio, George Hector, the late Karl Lofstrom and others.
(Walter has passed away since the writing of this bio)