Monday, November 17, 2008

28 files by the great Don Messer and His Islanders. These are from broadcasts of his 1960's top-rated television show, "Don Messer's Jubilee". I promised lots of Old Time Fiddling in this blog, and if you're going to talk about Canadian fiddling, Don Messer is pretty much the place to start. Not only was Don the pre-eminent fiddler in the Canada in the mid-twentieth century, he was also one of our most popular bandleaders. Don's exact, ornate style became the standard by which other fiddlers were measured, and every fiddler strove to mold their accompaniment into a seamless organization which could pound the thundering chords and bass runs of the Islanders. Drummers added woodblocks to their kits and guitarists added pickups under their strings to try and get the booming bass that seemed never to rest behind brother Don's crooked fiddle tunes.
Some special treats here include a rare performance of the Backwoods Trio. Although Charlie Chamberlain was rarely seen playing a guitar by the time the Islanders were fixtures of 1960's Canadian television, he and bassist Duke Neilson had been Don's original backup on radio back in 1929. They never recorded commercially as such, but every so often would present the original incarnation of the trio as a nostalgic look back at their radio roots. Charlie's guitar playing is particularly fine, and I once remember seeing the late Graham Townsend on television, enthusing about Charlie's prowess as a backup guitarist for fiddlers. Charlie and his singing partner, Marg Osburne take a vocal chorus on the Messer favourite, "Silver Bell". The stepdancing heard in the background of "Kiley's Reel" is none other than a very young Buster Brown!
I hope these recordings will help many of you relive the Don Messer show, and that others who've never been able to hear why Messer was such a big deal will finally be exposed to this great Canadian musician. Yours truly was weaned on his playing, and learned many of my favourite tunes off a stack old Apex 78's by Don and the Islanders (posts of these recordings will follow).

"Don Messer's Jubilee" ran 1958-1969 on the CBC TV network.

Personnel on these tracks is as follows:

DON MESSER - Fiddle and leader
CECIL MacEACHERN - 2nd Fiddle and Electric Guitar
RODDY DORMAN - 2nd and 3rd Fiddle on "Country Serenade Two Step", "Grandfather's Reel" and "Ragtime Annie"
RAE SIMMONS - Clarinet
VIC MULLEN - 5-String Banjo
DUKE NEILSON - String Bass
BUSTER BROWN - Step-Dancing on "Kiley's Reel"
UNKNOWN - Harp Solo


DUKE NEILSON - String Bass


1. Rambler's Hornpipe (Backwoods Trio) (Trad.)
2. Barren Rocks Of Aden (Trad.)
3. Blind Man's Reel (Trad.)
4. Christmas Jig (comp. D. Messer), Old Red Barn (Trad.), Vic's Jig (comp. V. Pasowisty)
5. Churning Butter (Trad.)
6. Country Serenade Two Step (comp. Roddy Dorman)
7. Dashing White Sergeant (Trad.)
8. Dick MacDougall's Reel (comp. King Ganam)
9. Dill Pickle Rag (Trad.)
10. Grandfather's Reel (comp. John Durocher)
11. Kiley's Reel (Trad.)
12. Leprechaun's Jig (comp. J. Durocher), Harp Solo, Erin Go Braugh (Trad.)
13. Maple Sugar (1st version) (comp. Ward Allen)
14. Maple Sugar (2nd version) (comp. Ward Allen)
15. McNabb's Hornpipe (Trad.)
16. On The Road To Boston (Trad.)
17. Out The Buckhorn Way (comp. Llewellyn Sexsmith)
18. Parry Sound Reel (comp. Jim Magill)
19. Plaza Polka (Trad.)
20. Ragtime Annie (Trad.)
21. Silver Bell (Vocal by Marg Osburne & Charlie Chamberlain) (Trad.)
22. Sister Elder's Reel (comp.Jimmy Shand)
23. Snowflake Breakdown (comp. Wally Traugott)
24. St. Anne's Reel (Trad.)
25. Texas Quickstep (Trad.)
26. Three Men On A White Horse (Trad.)
27. White River Stomp (Trad.)
28. Zaporozhets (Trad.)

*download here*


jingle bell rocks! doc said...

Hey Lonesome Lefty,

I just discovered your blog via a link at Red Neckerson's site. I'm a big C&W fan and the xmas stuff you've shared this year is fantastic.

I've got a whack of Don Messer's LPs, but nothing from his television show, so finding this particular share is a real treat.

Anonymous said...

My father was the piano player for Don Messer ...Waldo Munro
It's great to see the music is still popular


jayfix said...

thank you very much for having this available, my grandfather will probably go out and buy new batteries for his hearing aides for this and turn it up so loud my grandmother leaves him finally, hahaha. thanks again. bookmarked your blog.

Melody said...

Thank you....Marg's daughter

Unknown said...

28 files by the great Don Messer and His Islanders. ...

boppinbob said...

Thanks Lefty. Remembering Don on his birthday (May 9, 1909 - March 26, 1973)
Regards, Bob