Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fiddles in Concert at the Riverview Arts Centre

If you tend to get the winter blues and you would like to hear some toe-tapping music then reserve Saturday, January 31, 2009 (snow date - February 1) for an evening with Ivan andVivian Hicks and the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers at the Riverview Arts Centre (Riverview High School), 400 Whitepine Road, Riverview, NB.  Showtime is 7:30 PM.

This program will feature plenty of fiddling from the group as well as individual presentations from members of the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers, which will include step-dancing, vocals, harmonica playing and much more.

The Sussex Avenue Fiddlers was formed in 1978 under the direction of Ivan Hicks and is just completing 30 years as a community-based group that has entertained throughout Eastern Canada and in many of the American States.  In the Fall of 1998, the group did an American tour where they did a performance at the Wild Horse Saloon, Nashville, TN, opened a show for Barbara Fairchild at her theatre in Branson, MI and did a concert with Doc Williams in PA.  In 2008, the group did a 17-day 30th Anniversary tour south of the border where the fiddlers and other guests performed in Virginia, Nashville, in Memphis at Graceland, and at various locations in Louisiana.

Since it is a community-based group of some 50 fiddlers, the members mainly come from the tri-community (Moncton, Riverview, Dieppe).  However, there are members from Nauwigewauk, St. Paul, Sussex and Sackville.  The fiddlers enjoy entertaining seniors, taking part in benefit programs and providing music for church related activities as well as breakfasts for associations and foundations, such as MS, Alzheimer’s and Crohn’s & Colitis.

In 2009, besides performing on the 20th Anniversary Super Fiddle Show (their 20th appearance), on May 9th at RAC, the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers will be traveling to Quebec on the long weekend in May to perform in concert and have some jam sessions with musicians from the Valleyfield area.

Sussex Avenue Fiddlers did a 30th Anniversary concert at RAC on October 20, 2007 featuring the various talents from within the group.  This show was so well received that a double CD set of that evening’s performance is being produced and hopefully will have its debut launch at the January 31st concert.  This will be the group’s second album.

Tickets for this concert are now on sale and would make a great way to beat those winter blues.  The prices are $13 advance and $15 at the door.  Tickets are available through members of the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers, Sobeys and Jean Coutu in Riverview, Ford’s Apothecary, St. George St., Moncton and Ivan Hicks (386-2996).  All seats are reserved and you would be advised to get them early.  Proceeds go towards Sussex Avenue Fiddlers special projects.

Monday, November 10, 2008

On the Road Again...

On the road again... Well, sort of. After the success of the 2008 Musical Memories Tour, the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers have decided to hit the road again in the spring of 2009. This trip will take the group into Quebec and we'll have even more members of the group onboard this time. It will be a much shorter tour this time but memorable just the same. Details and photos will be posted so stay tuned.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Memories Continue

The trip might be over but the memories of the aptly named "Musical Memories Tour" continue.
Here is a day by day summary that was written by Ivan Hicks during the tour. Every few days he would call these into CBC Radio and they were aired at various times.


Ivan Hicks reporting for Fairway Tours, Musical Memories Tour with Sussex Avenue Fiddlers and Friends.

DAY 1 – Wednesday, February 27, 2008
-We left in a good ‘ol Maritime Nor’ Easter last Wednesday morning. The mayors of our three main communities were there to send us off.
- Our first night was spent in Amesbury, MA. Of course a jam session was in store for the evening.
- We finally ran out of all the snow by Friday near the Mason Dixon Line, Virginia.
-We have 25 fiddlers and 8 more musicians/vocalists on board. Three of the fiddlers are youngsters.
- A total of 56 passengers with most being from NB but also represented are: PEI, Quebec, Ontario and Pennsylvania.
-When we are not booked for performances, we hold jam sessions in the evening at the hotel. (Always some after hours music in the rooms too!)

DAY 2 – Thursday, February 28, 2008
- This was a long travel day
- We stopped in Carlisle PA to pick up a couple that were joining the tour.
- Had an evening rehearsal/jam at the hotel to get ready for our upcoming shows and recording.

DAY 3 – Friday, February 29, 2008
- Up for an early 7:45
- We traveled the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains area to Bristol, VA-TN
- This is the birthplace of country music – Carter Family, Jimmy Rogers (first recording, 1927)
- Our first formal performance was the Pickin’ Porch, Bristol VA, sponsored by the Appalachian Cultural Music Society.. A two hour show featuring the fiddlers but topped off with lots of variety from vocalists & dancers. This was presented to a full house and the show was taped for television.
Incredible hospitality – beautiful reception – large cake with SAF logo, tables decorated in Canadian colours – red & white – maple candy, flags, black bear, red roses, huge red felt maple leaves. An invitation to come back!
ACMA – based in Bristol, VA-TN – co founded by Tim White and James Bryant. The association operates the Mountain Music Museum with artifacts from the “Birthplace of Country Music”.
-Tim White was the host – very congenial . Volunteers provided beautiful reception – lots of food. Above and beyond

DAY 4 – Saturday, March 1, 2008
_Another early morning and we’re headed for Nashville, TN
- We hit the Wildhorse Saloon around noon for lunch. We also had the opportunity to play a 30 min show to a large audience where we featured both the group and our youth fiddlers. Again we received a warm and enthusiastic response. Stacey Read, of Sackville NB and a former fiddle student of Ivan, now lives and works in Nashville. She joined us for this show and played.
In the evening we went to the Grand ‘Ol Opry where we saw Ricky Skaggs, Mike Snider, Jimmy C. Newman, Little Jimmy Dickens & Terry Clark. Hoot Hester, the fiddler of the Opry’s house band, had once visited Riverview and jammed with us and the SAF.

DAY 5 – Sunday, March 2, 2008
-The day started with an early morning at the hotel for our recording session today at RCA Studio B.
-Off to Music Row – Nashville – Home of RCA Studio B where greats such as Jim Reeves, Marty Robins, Hank Snow and Elvis Presley recorded. We had the chance to record a two tune CD and received 56 copies. The engineer was very happy with the results of the session. He was impressed with the professionalism of the group.
- We also visited the Country Music Hall of Fame.
- In the evening we attended, Nashville Nightlife Theatre. Before the show, we were allowed to go on stage for a quick pre-show. Afterwards we were treated to a wonderful dinner and live show. One artist was from Campbellton and another was the famous ‘Shotgun Red” who used to appear on “Nashville Now”. We received another invitation to come back..

DAY 6 – Monday, March 3, 2008
_After leaving Nashville, we had a great trip to Memphis where we took in an approx. 3 hour tour of Graceland. Most everyone on board enjoyed this part of our Musical Memories Tour. Perhaps the highlight would be a tour of Elvis’ home and the grounds around the home. There were so many memories and to think of how much one individual accomplished in such a short lifespan and the influence he had on the music of his day and even now. I would recommend anyone visiting Graceland. Our SAF also had the opportunity to play at Graceland, where we were well received. Photos were taken by the management and should be up on their webpage at some point.

DAY 7 – Tuesday, March 4, 2008
-We left Memphis early on day seven and our journey took us to New Orleans. Some folks had time to either walk or take a shuttle to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street and spend an hour or two.
In the evening the whole bus group took a cruise around New Orleans on the Creole Queen. Here we had a dinner onboard which included, gumbo and then some Jambalaya, chicken and other items. A good opportunity to try some of the native foods of which there were some mixed comments. Food aside, this was a two hours cruise and we got to enjoy live music by a jazz band.

DAY 8 Wednesday, March 5, 2008
- Up early once again and this time off for a guided tour. The lady we had certainly knew New Orleans having lived her whole life there. This was nearly a four hour tour by bus and we got to see so much of the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Wow! You have to be there to appreciate how terrible this catastrophe was. However, they are rebuilding and we even witnessed a group of university students helping in the rebuilding - 1. putting up new homes, 2. painting, 3. landscaping etc.
It is a very historic and interesting city that people should try to see and experience. Again, our SAF had the opportunity to play a few tunes at one of our city tour stops.
-Although we were a bit behind in our time schedule we finally left New Orleans, traveling for miles and miles on bridges built on Bayous. All you could see were bridges on stilts and water all around us.
-By mid-afternoon, we checked into our hotel in Lafayette where there was a reception for us. AT the hotel, we were met by police cruisers and the police chief of Carencro. Carencro is the twin city to Dieppe. Now two most interesting things happened. We did an outdoor concert in Carencro that evening and our bus with all 56 passengers onboard was escorted by the police cruisers to the park where the concert was held. Now that created lots of excitement onboard, especially from the young people. In my years in the music business, I’ve never had a police escort to a show. We had a good turnout of people at this event and although it got a little chilly as the evening went along, we couldn’t help but think what it was like back home (Brrrr!).
Our music was well received. After the concert a big reception was held at the Carencro Community Centre where we were treated to a huge buffet of local style foods including more Gumbo and Jambalaya.
We were greeted by the Mayor of Carencro, Glen Brasseau, who presented each artist with an Honorary Citizen Certificate. A gold key to the city was presented to the group. What an honour!
We all felt that the hospitality extended to us was astounding. The red carpet sure was laid out! How could it get any more exciting?

DAY 9 – Thursday, March 6, 2008
-Every day seems to get more interesting and exciting. On this day seven of us, including the three young people in our group (Amelie D’Arcos, Allison and Alexander Landry) were up at 4:30am and off to a local radio station. We were interviewed about our visit to Louisiana and our music. Our music and samples from some of our CD’s were played.
-On returning to our hotel, we prepared to go on a morning bayou tour. Just before going out on the bayou, a lady showed up with her husband to take photos of the SAF and to do interviews for a local newspaper. They had heard our interview in the morning on radio and were very interested in our visit and music.
While out on the bayou, we (of course) had our fiddles and the first tune we played was Ned Landry’s “Cajun Fiddling on the Bayou”, followed by a number of other jigs and reels. Our guide sure enjoyed this trip!
-The afternoon was spent on a guided tour of Avery Island Park. For me, one of the most interesting parts of this visit was observing the nesting habits of the White Egrets, one of the birds of Cajun Country.
In the evening we visited one of Lafayettes’s most famous restaurants, Prejean’s Cajun Restaurant. Here our SAF did a 45 minute set for the patrons. This was the first time in 28 years that they had a guest band perform instead of the house band. Our music was very well received. Live visual images of our performance were carried on the Internet.
Afterwards we got to sit back and enjoy a great meal and the house band playing authentic Cajun music. Their music got many of our bus people up and dancing and having a great evening together – a most enjoyable evening.

DAY 10, Friday March 10, 2008
-After a busy schedule we finally got to sleep in a little longer, leaving our hotel after 9am and traveling to the frog capitol of the world (Rayne). This is a city of historic charm, mesmerizing murals throughout the city and antique attractions. They use to raise frogs for research purposes at one time and shipped them around the world.
We played a few tunes at the Rayne City Hall and again received a gold key to the city.
-We traveled to the city of Eunice where a reception and fiddle jam was organized for us at noon and into the early part of the afternoon. It is interesting to note that a number of the cities in Cajun Country are twinned to cities in NB. For example: Moncton/Lafayette, Memramcook/Scott. Our fiddlers had the chance to play with one of the greats of Cajun music, Hadley Castille, and other good Cajun players of the area. A great time was had by all!
-Now off to City Hall in Eunice where another reception was organized for us and we played a few more tunes. We were presented with a “Key to the City” award certificate by Mayor Bob Morris.
We then went to Randol’s Cajun Restaurant for dinner, some great Cajun Music with Jerry Huval and the Jambalaya Band, and the SAF played a 45 minute set during the event to a very enthusiastic and interested audience. Many were up dancing to our music and we received many positive comments.

DAY 11 – Saturday, March 8, 2008
- This is our final day in Cajun Country and Louisiana.
-Another early morning wake-up call and a group of fiddlers is off to a TV station for a 6am interview and play some of our music.
-After returning to our hotel and breakfast, we were off to Eunice for the full day.
-Today we visited Marc Savoy’s Music Centre where they hold a jam session every Saturday morning and you can hear all kinds of traditional Cajun music (mainly fiddles, accordions and guitars). Many of our tour group joined in and played along and they had us do some Canadian tunes as well. A really good time.
-Finally, the ladies got to do some shopping in the afternoon and we visited the Jean Lafitte Cultural Centre and presented a few tunes near the end of their jam session.
-We were scheduled to be part of a concert at the Liberty Theater – one of two bands which was carried on radio and televised for a later telecast. We did a 35 minute set and it was so well received that we had a standing ovation. We were told that this was one of very few standing ovations at that theatre – pretty exciting to our fiddlers and tour people.
This was the conclusion of another full but exciting day.
-We have just completed four wonderful days in Louisiana with so many memories and new friendships being made. Many of us were sad to leave.

DAY 12 – Sunday, March 9, 2008
We are sadly but finally leaving Louisiana and traveling to Meridian, Mississippi. Since this is a Musical Memories Tour, it would not be complete without experiencing the life and times of Jimmy Rodgers, often referred to as the “Father of Country Music”. We visited his museum and monument. He was also referred to as the “Singing Brakeman” since he worked on the railroad. He recorded from 1927 to 1933 with such songs as “T for Texas”, “Frankie and Johnny”, “Peach Picking Time in Georgia”, “In the Jailhouse Now” and a number of yodels. This museum was most interesting.
-After an enjoyable buffet supper and an hour jam session at our inn, we had some much needed rest.

DAY 13 – Monday, March 10, 2008
This was a relaxing travel day, driving through parts of 4 states; Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and into Tennessee where we stayed overnight in Knoxville.

DAY 14 – Tuesday, March 11, 2008
-We left around 8am with out destination today of Bristol and Marion, Virginia. Arriving mid-morning in Bristol, we went to the Bristol Mall (That’s where we played our 2hr concert on day 3 at the Pickin’ Porch). Some of the folks did more shopping while many of us spent time at the Mountain Music Museum located in the Mall and dedicated to the musicians and music of the area. Such artists as the Carter Family, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Patsy Cline, the Stanley Bros. (Bluegrass) and many others were represented in this museum.
-A concerted effort is being made to preserve the music of this region but like everywhere else it is a struggle to get the finances to assist. The Appalachian Cultural Music Assoc (non-profit organization) relies on donations, some concerts and a few sponsors for assistance.
-Traveling on to Marion, we now got ready for a sound check at the beautiful 500 seat Lincoln Theatre (just two doors from our hotel) and the SAF presented their final performance, a 2hr concert during the evening. This show was filmed for telecasting later on the “Song of the Mountain” program for PBS. We received 2 standing ovations. This was the Grand Finale of our whole tour.
This has been a most of most successful tour – music was well received, invitations to returns to these areas with our music, opportunity to share our NB music with others, many lasting friendships, experience other cultures and their music, and many to meet their Cajun Cousins.

DAY 15 – Wednesday, March 12, 2008
- This day was spent traveling on our way back home.

DAY 16 – Thursday, March 13, 2008
-Today we traveled to Waterville, Maine for our final night together. We had a nice supper together and an evening variety show featuring many of the members of the tour group (ie- fiddling, vocals, comedy acts, stories, jokes etc.).

DAY 17 – Friday, March 14, 2008
- We arrived home around supper hour with many of our folks meeting up at Champlain Place. The temperatures were unseasonably cold and the winds were blowing at the welcome home banner that had been made for us.

I have enjoyed sharing our adventures on this Musical Memories Tour with you. Thank you to the folks at CBC for the opportunity to keep in touch with you folks.
We’ll be home Friday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Playing Catch Up

Three posts in one day!
Some of this is a bit of a game of catch up.

The first venue that the SAF's played was the Pickin Porch in Bristol, VA way back on Feb. 29. The site for the Pickin Porch has been updated today and included a small write up on the show. They also include some nice photos.

The "Harmonikids"

As some of you already know, Harry and Nancy Simon from Louisiana are the persons who started the idea of the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers going on this tour. They spent some time visiting NB and enjoyed getting to experience our music and culture and thought of how wonderful to bring that to their area and for us to learn of their culture. They couldn't have been more right!

During some of the group's Lousiana performances, Nancy (a music teacher) was able to join in with the SAF as an honorary member. Instead of the NB Tartan, she wore the Louisiana Tartan.

Here are a few pictures and captions that the Simons sent to us:

Cajun fiddlers Hadley J Castille and Nancy Simon are surrounded by Sussex Avenue Fiddlers - and don't seem to mind one bit. VFW Hall, Eunice LA, March 7, 2008.

(Hadley Castille is a well-known Cajun fiddler. He was invited the City of Carencro - Dieppe, NB's twin City - to appear with the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers. Just like in Dieppe, the city of Carencro has their own Mercredi Show.)

The Sussex Avenue Fiddler were able to spend some personal time with their Louisiana "coozans" while visiting Eunice. Here Amelie and Alison chat with violin teacher with a snazzy vest, Nancy Simon; were they talking about fiddling or about the piece of boudin in Nancy's hand?

Performance during the "Rendez-Vous des Cajuns" radio show at the Liberty Theater, Eunice LA, March 8, 2008. Fiddler with off-color vest between Alison and Alexander is Nancy Simon of Eunice LA, who enjoyed the hospitality of the group in allowing her to be part of the performance.

(That evening's performance went well and ended with a standing ovation from the audience and then an encore from the fiddlers. They shared the concert with Fleton LeJeune and the Cajun Cowboys with each doing a half of the show.)

The Music Never Stops

The music never stops and neither do the media articles. Here is a fresh batch of articles from the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette. They also include a nice 32 photo gallery from their performance at Randol's Restaurant et Salle de Danse. Check it out!


Credit to Leslie Westbrook for taking all these great photos.

What a good looking bunch!

More from Lafayette

Sorry that the Blog went down yesterday but it's back up and running now.

The venue of the group's March 6th show was Prejean's Restaurant. After their set was over, everyone sat down to enjoy a traditional Cajun meal, followed by some mighty nice desserts. A local Cajun band played the rest of the evening and many of the SAF were on their feet dancing up a storm.

Prejean's has a webcam in their venue and I was able to snap a few shots while the group was there. Being a webcam, the pics are grainy but you can figure out who's who.

1. The 'calm before the storm'
2. The group takes to the stage
3. The houseband takes over and the SAF's up dancing. Yes Peter, we saw you.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Listen Live!

Some interesting news, although it's last minute. Vivian sent word today that their concert in Eunice, LA tonight (Sat. March 08) will be featured on radio station KEUN. This station allows folks from anywhere to listen in via the internet. I will post the links to the station below. Showtime is expected to be around 8pm our time here in New Brunswick. We think the show will be broadcast on their FM station but I'll include the link to their AM station to just to be safe.

KEUN -105.5 FM -

More news from the group by Donna...
A couple of important highlights of the tour... We had a Police escort to our outdoor concert in Carenco. The hospitality given by the Mayor of Carenco was above and beyond. Last evening we performed at Prejean's Restaurant where the Mayor of Carenco caught up to us and presented Ivan and Vivian with "THE KEY TO THE CITY OF CARENCO". This is an honor given to Royalty, Regiments, and Heros.

We are on to Eunice today with a reception at City Hall and a concert at Randol's Cajun Restaurant. We are over the half way point of of tour...heading North. That is all for now. Donna

To add a bit to what Donna said...

The weather in Louisiana has so far been colder than normal and lots of rain. At least one of their venues had to be moved indoors yesterday due to heavy rains. Still they had a great time and the crowds loved them.
Speaking of rain, they also visited that day the city of Rayne - Frog Capitol of the World and Official Louisiana City of Murals. The murals are featured throughout the city, depicting the history of Rayne and of course starring it's claim to fame, frogs. I don't think anyone in the group has yet been brave enough to order up a serving of frog legs.

More info in the next post. There is some sort of error in the Blog program that is not allowing me to display the rest of the info in this post.