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Foothills Centennial Fiddlers celebrating 18 years with Old-Time Country Dance Afternoon

Olds-based group performing at the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104 on Jan. 27
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The Olds-based Foothills Centennial Fiddlers are performing a special free 18-year anniversary show at the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104 on Jan. 27. The Old-Time Country Dance Afternoon will run from 1 p.m. to about 3:30 p.m. Submitted photo

INNISFAIL – It was on Feb. 21, 2020 when Murray Cameron and his longtime musical partner Brock Smith brought their two-man group The HUBCAPS to the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104.

Just over two weeks later the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and The HUBCAPS were shut down for two years, as was his Olds-based Foothills Centennial Fiddlers.

But both are back, and Cameron, an Innisfailian for the past 12 years and the musical director for the fiddlers, are coming to the Innisfail legion on Jan. 27 to celebrate 18 years of playing together across Central Alberta to appreciative audiences in senior's lodges, hospitals, and special events.

The group’s upcoming Innisfail show is being billed as an Old-Time Country Dance Afternoon, and will feature Don Messer-style waltzes, the two step, jive, schottische partnered dance, the seven step, polka, ragtime, as well as some east coast fiddle music and country standards made famous by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

The upcoming Innisfail show, which is free, runs from 1 p.m. to about 3:30 p.m.

“We like to do this because the legion has been very good to us. We’ve been practising there for 17 years and they don’t charge us. Every year we do a concert for them,” said Cameron. “We’ve already done a couple of things for the legion in Olds this year and we decided let’s do it for the legion in Innisfail this year.

“This is where some of us live. It’s just our way of giving back as best as we can. The community has been good to us. We love playing in the seniors’ lodges and watching these folks smile. Hopefully, we can fill this room and people will spend a little money in the legion.”

Before their Jan. 27 anniversary show, the Foothills Centennial Fiddlers were scheduled to play for extended care patients at the Olds Hospital and Care Centre on Jan. 18 and at Innisfail’s Autumn Grove on Jan. 19.

In fact, both of his groups are back to performing about 25 shows and 20 rehearsals a year.

“Entertainment has been my full time business ever since high school,” said Cameron, who is now 77 years young, and has been in the entertainment field full-time since 1966.

He has been with Foothills Centennial Fiddlers for the past 12 years.

The fiddlers group was formed in Olds back in 2005 by Anne and Earle Bowes and George and Veronica Muza.

The 17-member group today comes from all parts of Central Alberta and includes piano players Janice Beaudry of Didsbury and Innisfail’s Ann Howes. The group’s guitar player is Myrna Eddy from Westward Ho, and Didsbury’s Barry Beaudry is the bass player.

Several original members are still in the band, including Olds’ Doug Thibadeau, Linda Bogaert from Red Deer, Raven’s Betty Belenky and Art Dickson from Sundre.

As for the members’ ages, they range from 64 to 90-year-old Arnold Jones, a proud fiddler from Innisfail.

“In November, a week before all the snow, he was out quadding with his son in the mountains. He’s quite the character,” said Cameron affectionately.

Most importantly though, Cameron is hoping to see a big crowd at the Innisfail legion, with the firm belief it’s not only a chance to support the venerable institution but also to have some good old fun at an old-time country dance.

“People can dance and enjoy the music in the afternoon and drive home before dark,” said Cameron. “We volunteer our time so we can make this a free event and nobody needs to stay home because of a cost factor.”

 



Johnnie Bachusky

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