10th Anniversary Recognitions

Zephyrhills, Florida, USA, January 22, 2011

To Bernie Range, all the Directors and Members of the Queens Bush Bluegrass Club, and friends of Bluegrass.

I regret that I am unable to be with you this evening as you celebrate 10 wonderful years of bluegrass and the Queens Bush Bluegrass Club. It is certainly gratifying to see that the Club has grown from a simple jam venue to a flourishing organization fulfilling its role in promoting the most popular and fastest growing form of music today.

Looking back to the beginning, it should be known that the club was formed for a rather selfish reason; to be part of the Bluegrass Concert Circuit as promoted throughout Ontario each winter by Tony DeBoer and the Northern Bluegrass Committee. At the same time, we would provide a venue for the many Ontario Bluegrass bands with winter concerts of our own.

To many bluegrass fans, the Queens Bush Bluegrass Club is “Wintergrass Concerts”. On the other hand, the weekly jam session has encouraged many a budding musician to come “out of the closet,” providing a casual and friendly environment for learning. I have always maintained that no musician should consider themselves too good to learn from their peers nor to busy to lend a helping hand by sharing with those who want to learn. This atmosphere exists at a Queens Bush Bluegrass Club jam session.

I extend my congratulations to the Directors for their fine work and I would like to thank everyone for your continued support of the BLUEGRASS EXPRESS radio show on Country 93. The program is now in its 5 year of programming and we are proud to partner with the Queens Bush Bluegrass Club in “Promoting the Continuance and Development of Bluegrass in our Community”.

Don Day [Founding Board Member, and first QBBC President, 2001]

Tucson, Arizona, USA, January 19th, 2011

Hello President Bernie, Board of Directors and fellow members of the Queensbush Bluegrass Club:

I sincerely regret that I cannot be with you in person this evening to celebrate these tenth anniversary celebrations. However I do extend my heartfelt congratulations from Tucson and assure you that my thoughts are with you on this very special evening. On this happy occasion it is my hope that you might be kind enough to allow me a few personal observations.

After my retirement at the end of 1996, I began to pursue my long dormant interest in the banjo and bluegrass music. In the spring of 1997 I had the unbelievably good fortune to attend an open house at my old public school, Victoria, and there had the opportunity to meet three very talented musicians who were entertaining. They turned out to be the nucleus of a great local bluegrass band called Northern Grass...Dan Campbell, Bernie Meloche and Chris Best.

They invited me to join them at a weekly jam session at the restaurant in Rockford, and until those jams were discontinued, I had many a wonderful evening of music and meeting terrific new people who shared with me a deep love for the music. It was there that I met Mike Matecijic and Doug Van den Kieboom, who were the other members of Northern Grass.

These guys took me under their wings and made sure that I was made to feel welcome. They encouraged me to join in and participate in our jams both at Rockford and at Festivals we attended. I came to admire and greatly respect them both as very fine musicians and as good friends. Dan was extremely generous in sharing his banjo knowledge with me, Bernie always amazed me with his huge repertoire of songs, Chris always had a joke and a laugh to share, and the musical skills of Mike and Doug set a standard that was virtuously impossible for me to emulate. I owe these guys an enormous debt of gratitude for the pleasure I have received in just knowing them.

Gradually, as I became more and more immersed in the Bluegrass scene tagging along with Northern Grass, I came to meet many more wonderful people too numerous to mention, both pickers and grinners. I continued to be amazed and impressed at the musical skills and enthusiasm toward the music that I encountered. It has been a wonderful and humbling experience that I came to treasure and when given the opportunity to contribute by helping to form our own Bluegrass Club, I was both honoured and eager to be involved.

However, my participation on the Board of Directors was difficult to maintain because my wife and I spend our winters in Tucson, Arizona and after a couple of years, I reluctantly relinquished my position in order for it to be available to someone who could make a more substantive contribution. During my time in Owen Sound, I do my best to support the Club in any way I can and continue to greatly enjoy our regular jam sessions.

It is heartwarming to see how the club has progressed and how it has contributed to the musical life of Owen Sound and its surrounding area. Bringing renowned bands to perform for us during the winter months, encouraging local bands by having them perform as openers, putting on a very successful camp out and festival in the summer and conducting very popular weekly jam sessions indicates how very well the Club’s leadership has pursued it’s mandate as defined by the Mission Statement.

As we look forward to the future, I am confident that our outlook can only be bright and that the Club will continue to exert a positive influence on the musical and cultural life of our Community.

I look forward to seeing you all again upon my return and wish you a wonderful celebration for our tenth anniversary.

Sincerely, Jack McMeekin [Founding Board Member, 2001]