Leo O’Brien (1902-1992) of L’anse au Loup on the Lower Labrador Coast, spent his life both as a fisherman and co-owner of the general store Wyatt & O’Brien. A singer and composer, Leo was an avid collector of material and was known to recall songs and stories having only heard them once.
Francis Colbert (1903 - 1984) of Job’s Cove, Conception Bay, was a fisherman most of his life. He often organized local concerts, sending away for books of material which, along with original pieces, earned him the title The Man of a Thousand Recitations. He was an inspiration to many younger performers including Andy Jones, who invited him to act in the film, The Adventures of Faustus Bidgood.
John Joe English (1896 - 1991) of Branch, St. Mary’s Bay, was both a fisherman and a boatbuilder. He and his friend, Andrew Nash, would perform dialogues, John Joe taking the woman’s part. When Andrew passed away, John Joe played both parts himself. Also a respected singer, he was a source of repertoire for younger performers such as Pamela Morgan & Anita Best, whose recording and video of the gaelic song ”Siul a Ghra” is well known.
Baxter Wareham, born in 1944 in Harbour Buffett, Placentia Bay, is now Vice Principal of St. Michael’s School in Arnold’s Cove. Also a singer & accordion player, his repertoire comes from older performers in his community. As a member of The Wareham Brothers and The Breakwater Boys, Baxter has performed in the USA, England and Canada. Recordings include Twenty Years Later, Buffett Double (PIP-7324) and Towards the Sunset (PIP-7318) with Pat & Joe Byrne, featuring the song Rubber Boots.
Lem Snow (1903 - 1986) was born in Campbellton, Notre Dame Bay, later settling in Deer Lake where he worked for Bowaters Co. as caretaker of the powerhouse there. This job afforded him considerable idle time, which he spent developing his talent for composing clever rhymes and verses. Accompanying himself on the tenor banjo, he also performed original songs such as The Great Lobster Boil and Sailing Along the French Shore.
Kelly Russell , born in St. John’s in 1956, is the son of the late Ted Russell. A musician and performer, he was an original member of both Figgy Duff and The Wonderful Grand Band. He has worked closely with fiddlers Rufus Guinchard and Emile Benoit, learning, transcribing, teaching and performing their music. Work with his company Pigeon Inlet Productions & current group The Planks is ongoing.
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