St. Stephen – A jamboree Sunday at Branch 9 of the Royal Canadian Legion, offered a sampling of the live entertainment which will be heard by those attending the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony in St. Stephen, later this year.
The induction ceremony will take place Oct. 14, at St. Stephen High School. Those to be inducted are Edgar Berry of St. Croix, 91-year-old Bill Casey of St. Stephen, Adam Olmstead of St. Stephen, Claudette Norman of St. George, and Randy Russell of Saint John.
Local event coordinator Gary Sturgeon, who, with band members of Running Out Of Time, are helping to organize the evening, said while the induction banquet and concert are already sold out, there is a possibility more tickets may become available.
Sunday’s concert featured renowned entertainers Ivan and Vivian Hicks, Al Hooper, Gary and Tammy Morse, Carson Leighton, Reg Gallant, and Allison Inch, along with some of the inductees.
Sturgeon said the fundraising concert will help with the cost of hosting the event, and was also intended to “give people an idea of what they can expect.”
He said about 220 people attended Sunday’s concert. “We’re just sorry we couldn’t accommodate more. We had a waiting list for tickets.”
William Joseph Casey
Born in Rogersville, in 1926, Casey moved to St. Stephen at a young age. At the age of eight, Casey was self taught, with a natural ear for music, on the harmonica. His mother Amelia Casey (Martin) inspired him to learn how to play the accordion, and passed her legacy over to him. Casey purchased his first second-hand accordion at age 20, in Basswood Ridge. Since then he has entertained and became the center of attention at a lot of kitchen parties, weddings and dances.
Music remains a huge part of Casey’s life, and he still plays today at the age of 91, entertaining at various weekly community fundraisers, suppers, nursing homes, and at jamborees, such as the St. Stephen Legion on Tuesday nights, and the Bayside Community Center on Sunday afternoons.
Born in Halifax in 1974 , Adam was raised in St. Stephen until the age of 15, and finished high school in Northfield Mount Hermon School, in Massachusetts.
He started playing the piano at the age of five, and picked up a guitar in his teens. Inspired by the travelling troubadours of yesterday, Olmstead travelled, and performed, throughout North America and parts of Europe in his teens and 20s, before settling in his cabin in Canoose.
Olmstead, a multi-instrumentalist and teacher, has recorded three, full-length recordings with some of Nashville’s finest musicians. The importance of his traditional roots, and his dedication to keeping country and Bluegrass music alive, is evident in his song writing and live performances. Olmstead has been featured on CBC radio, and continues to entertain on stages in Canada and abroad.
Barry started playing guitar at age eleven on a guitar belonging to his brother. He knew two chords – C and F. He was persistent and taught himself as he went along. He listened to every Wilf Carter song he could, until he learned the words and the tunes. Then Barry learned to yodel, something his father told him wasn’t a good idea, and if he persisted, the best thing would be to go build himself a cabin in the woods, so he could practice. So Barry did.
Barry’s first public appearance was at the age of 12 in an old barn, where the crowd encouraged him to sing the Alphabet Song by Hank Snow. Edgar has played with Ned Landry, and was invited by Aubrey Hanson to play for him. Hanson was so impressed he recorded Barry, and played his music on the radio. Barry has also been on the Curlie O’Brien Show on the radio station out of Bangor, ME.
Barry was a great supporter of the Summer Sing Along in St. Stephen in the early 1980s, and performed at the opening of the McGaw Ski Hill in Oak Hill at the Loon Bay Lodge, The Playhouse in Fredericton, and The Manor in McAdam.
Norman hails from Rogersville, and moved to Black’s Harbour at the age of nine, where she began developing her musical talents. By the age of twelve, she was singing, and began playing guitar, also penning her first song at this time.
While raising her family in St. George, she kept her love of music alive by singing for family, and friends. Since the 1990’s, she has been sharing her talents as a regular in southwestern New Brunswick at numerous benefits, concerts, and jamborees.
In 2003, Norman was commissioned to write the Centennial anniversary song which resulted in “I Love This Town”, and in her being selected as “Citizen of the Year” for the town of St. George. One of her most significant achievements was in the re-writing of the song, “I’ve Been Everywhere”, using local New Brunswick place names.
She has performed at countless musical venues over the years, from the Sussex Balloon Festival, to the Atlantic National and Fredericton Exhibitions, for CBC’s Annual Harbour Lights Campaign, to The Algonquin and Kingsbrae Garden in Saint Andrews, to The Playhouse in Fredericton, to Campobello’s Fog Fest, and Head Harbour Lighthouse Days.
For more than 45 years, Russell has had a heart and mind full of country music. At an early age, Russell was inspired by the sounds of country music in his home. His father, Rick, was already performing country music, and sometimes included all of the family in performances at Lily Lake.
One of Russell’s favourite performers was Merle Haggard, and he sang one of that artist’s songs at his first gig in Rothesay. At the age of 15, Randy joined his first band, called “Vintage Wine.” His second band, “Morning Sun”, recorded albums, and toured New Brunswick for four years, during which time Russell performed vocals and bass guitar. He then joined “The Johnny Burke & East Wind Band” which toured across Canada for eight years. During that time, Russell won the “Best Instrumental Artist of the Year” award.
Russell accompanied Mel Tillis when he performed in Fredericton and Smiley Bates asked Russell to join him state side, and perform on his CD. He also appeared as a guest performer on the Rhonda Vincent Show.
Russell played back up bass and vocals for several music stars, some of whom performed on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville including Chris Crinkie, Orval Prophet, Don Gibson, Johnny Russell, Gerry Reid, Ronnie Robbins, Justin Tub, Myrna Lorrie, Dan Seals, David Frizell, Carol Backer and Johnny Paycheck.
He had the privilege of opening shows for George Jones, Dave Dudley, Mel Tillis, Wilf Carter, Rickey Skaggs, Dutch Mason, Ritchie Oakley of the Oakley Brothers, Matt Minglewood, Sylvia Tyson, Harold MacIntyre and Johnny Less.
Russell played country music for years on jamborees and at dances and continues to play in a weekly country music show in northern New Brunswick.