Arthur "Bubs" Brown
Born in Kentville, NS in 1941, Arthur Brown, nicknamed ‘Bubs,’ at an early age, was taught guitar basics by his father, Arthur Sr., when he was 12 years of age and music became his life from then on. He gave his first public performance a year later, a spot on a variety show broadcast on closed circuit radio to the local TB Sanatorium.
At first he played old-time country but so rapidly did his grasp of the adaptability of his chosen instrument, the guitar, develop that at 14 he was hired by Dutch Mason’s Rock ‘n Roll Band as their lead guitarist to tour with them throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, winning wide acclaim wherever they played. They were the first rock band ever to play Saint John’s Lily Lake Pavilion.
In 1963 Bubs left the band and returned to Kentville, to marry and raise a family, while playing nights and weekends with a number of local bands. The lure of the bright lights beckoned again, however, and in 1970 he joined Bob Murphy & Big Buffalo, with whom for three years he backed such celebrities as George Hamilton IV, Myrna Lorrie, Freddie McKenna, Dick Damron, Gary Buck and Al Cherny, and appeared with them on CBC-TV’s Countrytime and a CTV Country Music Special. During his tenure with them, they also recorded an album at RCA studios, Toronto and later won the ‘Big Country Best Canadian Band Of The Year Award’ in 1972.
In 1974, Bubs moved to NB and was immediately sought after by a number of bands that knew of his guitar versatility. For a time he played with Al Sherwood’s Fredericton based band that backed international stars like Wilf Carter, Hank Snow, Gordie Tapp, Dick Curless, Jim and Jesse and many others, and then with the band, Buckshot, who opened for Dave Dudley, Carol Baker and other international stars. After that, he played lead with Stone Ridge and in 1998 joined the house band at Barb Prosser Winder’s Country Junction. He also backed many New Brunswick music stars and gospel artists at recording sessions.
Now deceased, Oscar Egers was born at Salmon Creek and lived most of his life in Chipman, NB. In his teen years he became interested in music and quickly became adept with a variety of musical instruments. It was the fiddle, however, that became his lifetime choice.
Oscar’s talents were recognized early by the Phillips’ Brothers, Ray and Erdie, Banff/Rodeo recording artists from near-by Cumberland Bay, the first Canadian bluegrass band to release an album: Church In The Wildwood in 1958. He played concerts with them throughout the Maritimes, Ontario and the US sometimes in the company of Jim and Jesse McReynolds and the McLain Family, international recording acts based in Nashville.
Afterwards, Oscar, during a musical career spanning nearly half a century, formed musical alliances with several well-known Country bands here in his native province. First, with the Dungarvon Country Band to play various venues throughout the Miramichi area and at such venues as the Fredericton Exhibition and that city’s Sportsmen’s Club. Then with the Bob Cunningham Band to play dances in St. Louis de Kent and various other southern and central NB communities including prestigious bookings at venues like Fredericton’s Lord Beaverbrook Hotel and provincial fairs.
Between band engagements he played dances as a solo act or with others in duos or trios at Legions in Sussex, Rogersville, Fredericton, Stanley, Minto, Chipman and entertained at many senior’s homes and complexes as a member of local groups. In so doing, he helped tremendously in keeping the fiddle’s traditional place in country bands entrenched and alive.
In the last years of his life he was an integral part of the NB Country Showcase backup band at the Fredericton Playhouse and volunteered his musical talents whenever and wherever asked by the many fundraisers and charity events in his area and beyond.
Oscar was a first year inductee into the Minto Country Music Wall of Fame.
Born in South Tilley, in 1942, Garold Hanscom lived the first ten years of his life on his grandfather’s (William Parker) farm with his siblings and parents. Both his grandfather and his Uncle Fred played fiddle and the family listened to the Don Messer and The Maritime Farmers weekly broadcasts faithfully on an old battery radio.
In 1952 his father took a job as an engineer with the CPR and moved his family to Aroostock. In the fall of 1955, he was given a guitar, then, that Christmas, a fiddle each accompanied with Five Minute Course booklets. The following summer his grandfather taught him a few fiddle tunes and, although he was becoming adept with guitar by then, the fiddle quickly became his instrument of choice. Soon he was appearing with it on Gene Hooper’s Maine Radio Shows and Kidd Baker’s TV and radio shows here in New Brunswick.
At 15 he joined a First Nation band, Percy Innis & The Nighthawks, then a year later the New Ogilvy Orchestra to play lead guitar for dances two or three nights a week in NB and Maine.
In 1960 he attended Moncton Technical School and acquired a mechanic’s papers, moved to Bath to work in 1961 and rejoined the Ogilvy Band to play dances in the Glassville area and later the Archie Rideout Band to play Florenceville area dances.
In 1967 he went to work at Beechwood Generating Station and played dances around Perth-Andover with The Morton’s, leaving in 1974 to take a two-year technology course.
For 14 years, because of a heavy work schedule, he played only occasionally, but in 1988 he attended a fiddle jam in Andover and Joe Farquhar’s inspired playing awakened the fiddle fever in him again. That jam group, which quickly became the Wednesday Evening Fiddlers under Garold’s guidance, has grown over the years to 50 fiddlers and accompanists.
In 1990 he also became a regular with the River Valley Fiddlers, started going to fiddle contests, became interested in Scottish fiddling and attended Cape Breton’s Gaelic College. In recent years he has been accorded many honours and awards, served as president of the Maritime Fiddlers Association and teaches fiddle to students of all ages.
Hazel Marie Robertson
Hazel Marie Robertson (nee Morrissey) was born in Moncton, but moved with her family to Saint John shortly after. While still quite young she developed an exceptionally fine voice and was encouraged to sing by her father, Norman Morrissey. Soon she was taking part vocally in school events, then house parties, local celebrations, and, later, social clubs.
In 1967 she married and for sometime abandoned any thought of a music career. However, in 1980, she moved to Hampton and was invited to sing as a guest at a number of venues with Stewart Tays and his band But she was still relatively unknown outside of clubs, until 1993 when she was asked to perform at a Hampton Rising Star Coffee House and so delighted the hosts, Val and Barry MacDonald and the night’s audience, that she was brought back for several encores. Encouraged by other successful appearances at that venue, a year later, she formed her own band Eastbreeze, to play local venues that led to star billing at several festivals.
After Eastbreeze, as she became more gospel oriented, Hazel formed other musical alliances, His Choice and later, Hazel Marie & Friends. In the mid-90s she joined the cast of Rick’s Old Tyme Country Jamboree, first held at Samuel de Champlain School, then, as their audience grew, the Imperial Theatre, a move that won her a vast new legion of fans.
Hazel has appeared on many benefits and was a guest on such popular shows as the Valley Jamboree, out of Sussex. Eventually, after recording her third album, she began to organize and host her own shows at Cody’s, Hampton, Black’s Harbour, Havelock and other New Brunswick centers, performing at such venues as The Playhouse and Country Junction in Fredericton and Harbour Station, Saint John.
She also made many TV and radio appearances throughout the Maritimes and has performed at from 50 to 68 events annually.
She received a distribution of her albums across Canada, the US and Europe through CCMA, and has been featured on two compilation discs: “Bluegrass Volume 4” which also featured Patty Loveless, Stella Parton, and others getting airplay on 83 bluegrass stations in the USA and Europe; and “Christian Country Volume 40” featuring various artists and put into rotation play on 90 country gospel radio stations across the US and Europe.
Born at St. Paul, NB, while very young, Gerry Robichaud was taught fiddling rudiments by his mother, the former Elise Cormier, and a neighbour Oscar Melanson. He was soon appearing at kitchen parties with other musical members of his family. When he was ten he made his first radio appearance with the Full of Pep Boys on a Moncton station with a cast that included Angus Robichaud, Marg Osburne, Maurice Bolyer, Jimmy Chapman and others. Don Messer’s radio broadcasts during those years also added immeasurably to his repertoire and influenced his style of playing.
In 1948 Gerry moved to Minto to work in the mines but soon left for employment with the CPR. Shortly after, he joined The Lone Star Playboys, who appeared weekly on a show Wake Up New Brunswick over CFNB Radio, then moved to Moncton to join the 1950 Bunkhouse Boys entourage on CKCW Radio and appear live with them throughout the Maritimes.
In 1955 Gerry reluctantly left his beloved NB to seek work in Boston. One evening he took his fiddle to the Franco-American Victory Club, more popularly referred to as the ‘French Club’ and played with a cousin Leo Paul Bourque during the evening’s entertainment. The club’s president was so impressed by Gerry’s musicianship he asked him to return the following Saturday, which led to a weekly contract, one that was resigned annually for 41 years.
In 1960 Gerry returned briefly to Canada and recorded an album for the Banff Rodeo label through a deal worked out for him by an influential friend, Winston Scotty Fitzgerald. It was an LP that won him a legion of admirers Canada-wide. Winning a New England Fiddle Championship resulted in an invitation for him to compete in the US Nationals and a contract with Voyager Records.
After 40 some years and six album releases, Gerry still plays dances, accompanied by his brother Bobby in the US and Max Richards during long summers back in NB.
His recordings all have contained NB content reflecting his love for his native province. Album titles like Maritime Dance Party and Traditional Fiddling from New Brunswick have helped spread our province’s name internationally.
(Gerry has passed away since the writing of this bio)