Seniors club hosts fundraiser

The Evergreen Seniors will present the second annual fundraiser for the Sonshine Club on June 10 at 2 p.m.

The Evergreen Seniors will present the second annual fundraiser for the Sonshine Club on June 10 at 2 p.m.

A Tribute to Don Messer will feature local fiddler Glen Hiebert as Don Messer.

Glen is one of the best fiddlers anywhere, and those who have seen and heard Glen fiddle throughout the valley will agree that Glen’s fiddle and supporting musicians will send you home as if you had heard the great Don Messer and his Islanders in person.

Messer was a Canadian institution from 1939, when he was first broadcast nationwide on the CBC Radio network, to his death in 1973. Don Messer’s Jubilee, which featured Messer and his Islanders, ran from 1959 to 1969 on CBC national television.

Next to Hockey Night in Canada, the weekly Friday night show was the second-most watched program on the CBC. The show was unexpectedly cancelled in 1969 because the CBC felt the show was too old-fashioned. It was picked up by the CTV network, appearing for the next four years until Messer’s death in 1969.

Hiebert was born in 1930 at Boggy Creek, Man. During those years people made their own entertainment, many learning to play a musical instrument to entertain one another on  those long Manitoba nights.

Hiebert’s mother played the piano in Grand Narrows, Man., with well–known champion fiddler Mylie Barron and also partnered with Glen’s father to play music for the dances in the area. Glen began on the piano, later learning the guitar and fiddle. He gave up the fiddle during his early working years, concentrating on playing the guitar until 1980 when he joined the Woods Lake Branch of the Old Time Fiddlers.

Glen was a founding member of the Branch 17 of the Old Time Fiddlers on the North Island. Along with fellow musicians of the Fiddlers, Glen has been playing at all the care homes in the Valley once a month since 1984.  Glen has a been a longtime admirer of fiddlers such as King Ganam and his favourite musician Don Messer.

The show at the Florence Filberg Centre is supported by various local musicians and singers to fill out the cast of Don Messer’s Jubilee, including Irene Tomchick as Marg Osborne, Bob Casavant as Charlie Chamberlain, George Bentham as Scottish entertainer Johnny Forrest, and Harold Mosdell as the blind vocalist-guitar player Freddy McKenna.

Others in the cast include Ed Medford on the guitar and fiddle, vocalist Edie Gark, Gloria Olson on the piano, Ray Ledoux on bass, Art McMartin on the mandolin, and Dave Gark on the bones and mandolin.

The show will also feature dancers and cloggers and a special guests, Doris Weislein as Kitty Wells, George Bentham as Boxcar Willie, Doris Weislein as Kitty Wells, and Bob Hiebert as Gordon Lightfoot. Bob Hiebert does his own Gordon Lightfoot Tribute.

Don Tremaine, the MC of the show, is portrayed by Ken MacLeod, who promises to take you back in time with his historical quips.

The show was a smash hit at the recent North Island Old–Time Fiddlers Jamboree.

Tickets are available for $10 each at the Florence Filberg Centre at 411 Anderton in Courtenay (250-338-1000).

Come out and take a trip down memory lane to revisit Don Messer’s Jubilee and support the Sonshine lunch program, which operates Monday to Friday at St. George’s United Church for persons in the Comox Valley who are in need.

In June 2011, a program entitled Courtenay Seniors Have Talent raised over $2,500 for the lunch program.


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