John Lynch's expertise with an accordion has seldom been matched in New Brunswick . He was born in Saint John in 1923 and was only two when his family moved to Partridge Island where his father became keeper of the light. His musical talent developed early. By his early school years he was a regular on Uncle Bill's show over CFBO, which later became CHSJ, and was also appearing regularly with a friend Ned Landry on Wasson's Warblers, a kids group which played Saint John theatres.
When he was eight he got the chance of a lifetime. Major Bowes came to Saint John in search of talent. The youthful Lynch so impressed him that he invited the Lynch family to New York so that John could perform over national radio from Madison Square Garden and after those appearances, suggested to John's parents they should move to the US metropolis.
“Move to New York ”, Bowes told John's parents, “this boy can support you all.” Had they gone, John would certainly have become a household name across America . They decided not to move, however, and John began a lifelong career in Canadian musical circles. He appeared with Hal Lone Pine. Don Messer hired him as a stand-in for a tour. He was a member of Hank Snow's original Rainbow Ranch Boys; the Sunshine Boys and the Maritime Farmers. When he lived in Hamilton he played with such Canadian country stars as King Ganam, Gordon Tapp, Jack Kingston and Tommy Hunter.
He has returned to Saint John . He has played with Ned Landry and accompanied the former RCA recording artist at a prestigious Festival-By-The-Sea concert and are slated to perform again in the same festival. John's accordion is a unique chromatic made in Italy from his own design.
Mavis O'Donnell (McKay)
Mavis O'Donnell(McKay) was born at Porter Cove on the banks of the Miramichi River , the third child in a family of four.
From the age of three, her father encouraged her to sing and entertain anyone who would listen. Much later, her older brother, Alden, gained recognition as a gifted songwriter; the singer and the songwriter proved to have magic formula. At the age of 10 Mavis and her cousin were introduced on Bud Brown's “Capital Co-Op Jamboree” as the first place winners in a singing contest they had entered. Later she became a regular performer on the “Capital City Jamboree” with television coverage throughout the Atlantic provinces and the state of Maine.
When Mavis agreed to record two of her brother Alden's, Miramichi Folk Songs, her popularity led to hundreds of engagements throughout New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada. Her appearances as special guest vocalist with the country band “Dungarvon Country” led to appearances at night clubs, festivals and provincial exhibitions, but her popularity grew as a solo performer of heart-felt ballads and catchy up-tempo tunes.
The recording of “Hat Off to the Miramichi” and its subsequent success made her an Ambassador of Tourism from the Miramichi. She has represented New Brunswick on numerous occasions from the Dominion Conference of Women's Institutes to “Conclave ‘85” in Newfoundland.
Mavis' ability to capture her audience and make every song she sings an individual entertainment has won her a special place in the hearts of those who have seen her on stage.
Lorene Allen brings with her more than 30 years of professional experience in country music. Born at Newcastle Bridge , she moved to Fredericton in the mid 50's, entered and won a talent contest on the Capital Co-Op Jamboree, where she became a frequent performer. At the same time she embarked on an extensive and varied career with performances on stage, radio and television.
Her radio credits include many performances with the Diamond Trio on CFNB, CBC and KHJ in Fredericton. She was a regular on the Aubrey Hanson Show and has appeared many times on stage with him. She has appeared on television with the Bunkhouse Boys on CKCW, Moncton , the Capital City Jamboree in Fredericton , televised by both the Maine Public Broadcasting Network and the Atlantic Television Network.
She has become an accomplished guitar and bass player and has organized and been a member of dance bands, including “The Gal and Guys” and “Country Eastern” which played together for a ten year period.
In the spring of 1987, Lorene realized a life-long dream when she completed her first album on cassette entitled “Thoughts and Feelings” which contain ten of her own songs, and won the admiration of columnist Gerry Taylor who wrote: “It is far more enjoyable album than most of the high-cost Nashville products I hear nowadays. This is due to the crisp, clear sound, the quality of the songs, Lorene's soulful interpretation of love's many moods and her lyric story telling.” The new album led to an invitation to audition in Nashville for the Nashville Network Show, “You Can Be a Star”.
Lorene and her husband Fred, spend their winters in Florida where she has attracted a large circle of country music fans in the Fort Myers Beach area. Her children- Cathy, Peggy, Brian, Michael and Lorena, reside with the families in Fredericton.
Curtis Hicks Born in the farming community of Midgic, NB in 1915, the eldest of eleven children, Curtis Hicks was five years old when his parents took him to a house dance where he saw and heard a fiddle for the first time. Impressed by the tone of this instrument, he later attempted unsuccessfully to make a fiddle out of a shingle and rabbit wire.
At 17 he bought his first fiddle for the grand sum of five dollars. Unable to afford music lesson and having no access to such modern conveniences as tape recorders and record players, he had to rely solely on memory to learn tunes. At every opportunity he attended house gatherings and dances to hear and watch fiddlers and then went home and applied what he had learned.
Curtis began playing for house dances in his late teens at the same time he started working in the lumber woods where, after a hard day's work, it was usual and relaxing to rosin up the bow and play a few tunes.
He met his future wife, Bessie Lee, at a house dance; they were married in 1937. She accompanied Curtis on Hawaiian guitar at various house functions. During his 37 years with Canadian National Railways (1940-1977), Curtis continued to play the fiddle for community functions, dances and house gatherings.
In July, 1940, Ivan, their only child, was born and before long he was introduced to various music instruments including the fiddle. In the late 40's and 50's, Ivan accompanied Curtis at musical events including those in Baie Verte and in Middle Sackville. Curtis has a great repertoire of tunes, a few of which he recorded in 1981 on “Curtis Hicks: A Portrait of an Old-Time Fiddler.”
Gordie Cole and “The Millers” played their first dances in the early 1950's with the assistance of Fred McKenna playing piano. They continued to play shows and dances in Central and Southern New Brunswick until the mid 1960's. Gordie and “The Millers' were featured Saturday nights on CFNB with a 30 minute radio show during the fall and winter of 1955-56. In 1959 they began playing with Bud Brown and the Capital Co-Op Jamboree. These shows toured most of New Brunswick. The Millers played the Jamboree until the spring of 1961. They appeared on Radio Atlantic in January, 1963, on the Western Talent Hit Parade.
Gordie played with Al Sherwood and the York County Boys for a number of years. This included Woodstock Old Home Week, July 1967, a Maritime tour with Hank Snow-Wilf Carter Show in September, 1967. After the York County Boys disbanded, Gordie played a number of years with Aubrey Hanson and The Country Ramblers for shows and dances. This included a Maritime Tour with the Wilf Carter Show in 1978. He also played fiddle with Capital City Show Band on the Capital City Jamboree which toured Southern and Central New Brunswick during the years 1983-1984-1985.
Gordie played fiddle for the first Maritime Step Dancing Competition held in Fredericton in 1986. In the winter of 1988, he played fiddle on the New Brunswick Jamboree with Aubrey Hanson and the Country Ramblers. He has been playing every Saturday morning at 6:35am with Aubrey Hanson since 1975.
Gordie was born in 1932 in Fredericton. He married Marie Boone in July, 1955 and together they have raised four sons and still live in Fredericton.
Eugene "Gene" Morris
Eugene (Gene) Morris , born in 1921 at Magundy , NB literally grew up to the “sound of music”. His mother taught music and was Church organist and choir director, his father played fiddle and his three sisters sang and played various instruments.
At the age of 12, Gene's Dad introduced him to the mysteries of the fiddle and shortly afterwards he received formal lessons from his mother. However, his first love was country music. Gene recalls Don Messer and Wilf Carter as early influences in his music.
Graduation, marriage to Madeline, a job transfer from Harvey Station to Hampstead, all were interspersed with his music, his guitar, singing and playing at dances, house parties and variety concerts.
He eventually formed his own dance band, the “River Valley Boys” and played most of the better entertainment events from Gagetown to Westfield , while appearing most often on radio, over CFBC's “Music in the Night”. His two sons, Bill and Gary, joined him on stage at an early age among other events, with the original Capital Co-Op Jamboree.
A highlight and perhaps the greatest challenge of his career, was developing and directing the Sussex Town and Country Orchestra, a group of 36 musicians who provided live entertainment throughout southern New Brunswick.
He was awarded the “Don Messer Memorial Award” in 1984. He has released an album of “Fiddling Favorites” and is a featured artist on the Valley Jamboree, as well as being a member of the Fredericton Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association, the Maritime Fiddlers Association, the River Valley Fiddlers, and the leader of the country combo, “The Lamplighters.”
(Eugene has passed away since the writing of this bio)