Musicians in Southwest Arm

Compiled by Levi Churchill, 2019

 

When the early settlers arrived in this area, the music came with them. In “the arm” it seems the harmonica [mouth organ] and accordian were the instruments of choice. It was much later that other instruments arrived.

Back in the 1800’s there were always entertainers and those who loved to be entertained. The same is true today.

Square dancing in Hatchet Cove

Square dancing was the norm in the early days, and as well there was the favorite “step-dancing”. Dances were held in homes and later in schools. It was amazing how eight dancers could maneuver in such a small space. Dancers would be “plankin’ her down,” everyone soaking with sweat. When the set ended all the men would go outdoors in the bitter cold. Tis’ a wonder they didn’t catch their death.

Things changed with the building of halls, in almost all communities. With the help of many residents I will attempt to record all those that provided music over the years.

EARLY YEARS

On New Year’s Eve the “Crossroads” [Gooseberry Cove] was the hot spot. Horse and sleigh were the mode of transportation and the local residents would make space for the horses until the dance was over. During the early years, music was supplied there by Will Lambert, Ike Smith, and George Seward. I was also given the names of Robert Balsom and Lawrence Lambert, but I suspect this was in later years.

In Hodge’s Cove, Willis Thomas [accordion] and Eliab Stringer [mouth organ] played in the beginning. Stories are told that Eliab would play until the dancers were exhausted and his lips were bleeding. Later years, Don and Eliab Smith played for square dances.

In Queen’s Cove and Northwest Brook, Ira Goobie and Jack Soper were the musicians. Later Ira’s brother Denis would play.

In Hillview there were the Critch’s and in St. Jones Within there were Alwin and Randolph Price. I have attempted to gain info from many individuals in this area, and I feel sure that there are others, especially in Hillview and St. Jones Within.

The beginning of country music and bands had a humble start here in the Arm. The Stringer Boys were the first to begin what we know as a band. Brothers Cecil, Lindsey and Bill Stringer performed as a group and raised money for charity in Hodge’s Cove and Gooseberry Cove.

The Bishop’s from Hatchet Cove started to attract attention. Cecil played and sang on a radio show from St. John’s. Malcolm moved to Toronto and became well known. Harvey also moved to Toronto and was very popular. He wrote many popular songs and became a well-known entertainer.

A NEW ERA BEGINS

Then came radio and television, roads and vehicles, and the music scene changed. I found it very difficult to trace all the bands in the arm, and dates impossible. However, we can assume it all started in the late sixties. The information following was supplied by others.

Blitz – Edison Spurrell, Larry Spurrell, Merly Soper, Trevor Spurrell and Brian Dodge

Cosmos Factory – Andrew, Wilson, and Roy Smith, Paul Norris, and part time were Eliab Smith and Evelyn Avery.      

Country Fever – Marion Dean, Reg Giles, Wally House and sometimes Dave Cooper  

Lightening – Kent and Peggy Stringer, Terry Seward, Cliff Lambert, LeRoy Langer and Craig Stringer

Loaded Gun – Darryl and Cyril Drover, Ralph Vey and Colin Green

MangyCur – (this band formed after Loaded Gun broke up) Ralph Vey, Bryan Dodge, Terry Stanley, and Rodney Giles. 

Modern Country – Marion Dean, Reg Giles and Roy Critch

Rebound – The Relations plus Wilson Smith

Relations – Roy, Larry, Walter and Selma Critch

Shadoe – Trent and Toby Martin, Debbie and Deana Whalen, Stephanie Peach and Brian Stringer

Sounds of Time – Wayne Bursey, Reg Giles, Wayne Frost and Walter Critch 

Stonehenge Chris Spurrell, Levon Seaward, Terry Spurrell, Adam Seward, and Mike Smith. They formed and played in the 90s.

Strange Brew – Originally consisted of Edison Spurrell, Greg Seward, and LeRoy Langer. David Benson replaced Greg Seward and played with them for years after.   

True Confessions – Wayne Churchill, Garfield and Ed Balsom and Evelyn Avery

These were the bands that played in clubs and schools during the 70’s, 80.s and 90’s. If I have missed anyone, additions can be added.      

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Page updated August 2023; Updated January 2024