Victoria Bluegrass Association Logo: Bringing People together for the Preservation, Enjoyment and Advancement of Bluegrass and Related Acoustic Music.

Sooke River Bluegrass Festival - Survey

The Festival has a post-festival survey. If you attended, please help improve the Festival by participating. 10 questions, takes less than five minutes. Here is the link:

Al Ritchie plays his final tune

Al Ritchie passed away on the evening of June 7th, 2018, surrounded by family. Al was an active participant at the weekly Victoria Bluegrass Jams for many years until he found attending too difficult after becoming wheelchair bound . Even so, he continued to play his guitar regularly up until his final days as playing brought him so much joy throughout his life.

Al's enthusiasm for playing music was infectious. He was always keen to take his turn to lead a song as he had a big repertoire. Always friendly, he was a great story teller. He will be missed by his many friends and family.

A celebration of life is being held on Saturday, June 16 from 1 to 3 pm at the Colwood Community Hall at 2219 Sooke Road, Victoria BC (near the Dairy Queen). There will be an opportunity to play some music in Al's memory - please bring your instrument to participate.

Replacement of our Bylaws

Your VBA Board of Directors has reviewed the current VBA Constitution and VBA Bylaws, and recommends that the current VBA Bylaws (which were based on the 1996 Model Bylaws) be replaced with the 2015 Model Bylaws in The BC Societies Act.

The Board recommends two additions be made to the new Bylaws. Those two additions are sections 62 and 63 of our current Bylaws:

  • 62 These bylaws must not be altered or added to except by special resolution.

  • 63 The assets remaining after proper dissolution of the society shall be distributed to one or more like-minded organizations within British Columbia as determined by the directors at the time of dissolution.

Note that several sections that are in our current Bylaws, but not in the proposed Bylaws, are now included in The BC Societies Act.

You can view the differences between our current Bylaws and the proposed Bylaws in the two linked files.

To replace our current Bylaws, we will hold a vote on a special resolution at our Annual General Meeting (Tuesday, May 29, 2018).

If you have any questions or comments, please send them to Doug VanDine by April 27, 2018.

For those of you who made it this far, here is your reward: Earl Scruggs Documentary The 1 hour and 13 minute documentary, made in 1972, gives a look into Earl Scruggs' life and times and includes segments with many musicians you will recognize.

Meet our Nimblefingers Bursary Winner

Gaby Baasch is the winner of the 2018 VBA Bursary to the Nimblefingers Workshop in August. She will receive full tuition plus a small stipend for accommodation/meals.

"My parents were born and raised in South Africa, and I grew up in a suburb near Vancouver, so bluegrass music was not part of my upbringing. On the contrary, I was not exposed to the genre until my adulthood.

"While I was attending UBC I decided to spend a summer in Dawson City, Yukon. It was there, in an old wooden bar that has not changed since the gold rush, that I heard bluegrass for the first time. I was blown away by the energy and raw talent of the musicians.

"That summer I attended ChickenStock, a music festival in Chicken, Alaska and I truly fell in love with bluegrass music.

"Initially, I felt remorse that I could not play an instrument and join in with the musicians, but I recently decided that it is never too late to learn! I bought a banjo and I haven't looked back. Since then, I have attended several bluegrass festivals with my instrument in tow. I have tried to participate in jam circles, but as a beginner it can be quite difficult. For this reason, I have dreamt of attending Nimblefingers.

"Upon moving to Victoria, I started taking banjo lessons with Cluny Macpherson and he mentioned VBA's bursary. By attending Nimblefingers I hope to improve my banjo skills so that I can play with others, and to make lasting connections so that I can continue to actively participate in the bluegrass community."

Congratulations, Gaby, and be prepared for an intense and glorious week at Nimblefingers !

Ron Jenkins joins the Circle

Ron Jenkins, local country musician and friend of bluegrass, has died at the age of 82. He was a fixture in our country music scene, and will be missed by his many friends and family. A celebration of life will be held March 25, 2018 from 1-5pm at Langford Legion, 761 Station Ave.

His obituary is here.

VBA Donates to Charities

We raised $1,164.80 at our 2017 annual XMAS Jam and Auction, which we donated to The Mustard Seed.

And as a result of the concert by John Reischman and the Jaybirds, with Cordova Bay United Church, Sooke River Bluegrass Association, and the musicians involved, we donated $950 to Our Place Society.

Thanks everyone who helped with these donations - it's a significant part of the VBA's annual commitment to local charities.

Marlene Bertrand - RIP

The VBA has been remiss in posting this, and we deeply apologize. Marlene was such an important part of our community that everyone will understand how much we miss her, and they will appreciate how difficult it has been to say goodbye. She was always keen to volunteer, to greet new players, to encourage players to get on open stage and to play music almost anytime, anywhere.

Marlene began learning to play mandolin at the tender age of 60. Her determination and enthusiasm for learning the instrument and repertoire, together with her outgoing personality and boundless energy, got her into many musical events on and off stage. She was a tireless volunteer, generously working hard to ensure the success of the VBA in every way she knew how. And how she loved sharing her music by performing regularly on open stage nights, at our Tuesday night jams, at festivals, in retirement homes, and at many jam gatherings held at her home or at the homes of her many, many friends and family. And when she wasn't playing, Marlene could be found sitting in an audience with her Art, enjoying and supporting performances of all levels.

Marlene passed away August 1, 2017, spending her last waking day playing music with friends. No doubt she's playing and singing with the angels now. We wonder if she's taught them how to play Salt Spring yet.

Her obituary: Lovingly remembered by her husband Arthur Bertrand, daughter Celine (Brian) Berry and grandchildren Robert, Erin and David of Victoria, son Darin (Elizabeth) Bertrand and grandchildren Ryan and Matthew of Ottawa, and her many brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and friends. Many thanks to the wonderful staff at the Victoria General Hospital for their care and devotion. A memorial mass was held at St. Patrick's Parish in Victoria on August 11, followed by a reception at the Berry residence. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation in her memory would be greatly appreciated.

Teresa Cline 1936-2017

Born on Prince Edward Island, passed away peacefully in Victoria, BC after a short illness on May 10, 2017. Teresa moved from PEI to Toronto where she met her husband Bernard (Bernie) Cline at the open air skating rink in front of City Hall. Her happy spirit and outgoing, loving nature was evident by her wide circle of friends. In 1980 Teresa and Bernie moved to the West Coast and eventually retired to a very busy life of travel where they developed a second family of bluegrass friends.

Teresa will be lovingly remembered by her husband Bernie, daughter Donna (Mike), son Michael (Karen) and the most recent love of her life, her grandson Dante, as well as many family and friends.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, July 23, 2017, from 2-5 pm at Saxe Point Park, Victoria, BC. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Victoria Bluegrass Association.

Welcome the new Board of Directors

At our Annual General Meeting on May 30, we elected a new board, then ate a scrumptious cake and had a band scramble.

Victoria Pang is finally president after many years as Vice-President, and Barry Lumgair is our new Secretary. Larry Statland, Dan Belgue, Colleen Talson, and Phil Shaver are all returning members of the Board. Joining them is Doug Van Dine. The full list is here.

Pharis and Jason Romero won a Juno !

Top award for a fabulous recording:

A Wanderer I'll Stay

VBA Donates to Charities

We raised $1,233 at our 2016 annual XMAS Jam and Auction, which we donated to The Mustard Seed.

And as a result of A Winter's Night with John Reischman and Friends, with Cordova Bay United Church, Sooke River Bluegrass Association, and the musicians involved, we donated $846 to Our Place Society.

Thanks everyone who helped with these donations - it's a significant part of the VBA's annual commitment to local charities.

Doug Van Dine gets awarded, feted, and picked over

Congrats to Doug for his big award. Don't worry, there is a banjo in the video too.

Clarence Boudreau - RIP

Long time VBA member, Clarence Boudreau, passed away peacefully and quietly at approx 1 am on Wednesday September 30, 2015. Thank you to the many who have shown their support and sent their love.

More Slow-pitch Jam files

Paul and Steve have posted lyrics for some songs for the slow-pitch crowd. You'll find this set of files here. The earlier second set of recordings and lyrics here, and the first set of files is here. Enjoy !

Ernest Queen 1933-2015

Ernest Queen died March 7, 2015 at his home in Sedro Woolley surrounded by his family. Ernie, a longtime member of the WBA, was a passionate performer and promoter of bluegrass music. Born in 1933, Ernie was raised near Sylva, North Carolina, where he was first exposed to the music that became his lifelong passion. He moved to Sedro Woolley in 1955 and started working in a concrete plant and, shortly thereafter, as a logger. In 1963, he left the woods to become a farmer managing both a dairy and a beef herd.

In 1984, Ernie helped found the Skagit Bluegrass and Country Music Association and ran the monthly jam at Sedro Woolley until January of this year. Talk about longevity and commitment. Ernie always welcomed and encouraged new musicians, young and old, to get up on stage with the experienced musicians. He wanted the music to grow and thrive with new members coming in to share his passion. Several current day performers at bluegrass festivals throughout the state got their start at the Sedro Woolley jam.

In 1985, Ernie founded his band, Queen's Bluegrass, and performed throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. He was known for his white cowboy hat and his "real deal" bluegrass voice. Ernie's band was always noted for hard-driving traditional bluegrass and gospel music.

Ernie, knowing he was in his last days, had the good fortune to visit with family and friends before he passed on. To the remaining members of Queen's Bluegrass he asked, "Will you keep playing the music?" To a man, all answered, "Absolutely!" To that end, Queen's Bluegrass will continue playing the traditional, hard-driving bluegrass that Ernie loved.

Practise with these backing tracks

Doug Van Dine passes along the following link to some simple but quality backing tracks. Lots of Music-Minus-One tunes, which you can slowdown too.

Free Bluegrass Backing Tracks

The tunes and sample solos are weak on melody, so they are not useful for learning the tune or creating a break, but they are good for playing along.

VBA Donates to Charities

We raised $1,009.46 at our annual XMAS Jam and Auction, which we donated to The Mustard Seed.

And together with John Reischman and the Jaybirds, Cordova Bay United Church and Sooke River Bluegrass Association, we donated $685 to Our Place Society.

Thanks everyone who helped with these donations - it's a significant part of the VBA's annual commitment to local charities.

Xana Morris says Thank You

Here is a note from our Nimblefingers bursary winner.

A Letter From Cuba

Hello all who saved guitar strings:

My son, Jeb, brought me used strings before I went to Cuba last month. I was uncertain what the reaction would be but after handing out strings in 7 cities in Cuba I just thought I would pass along the good things that happened. I received many hugs, a kiss, was serenaded on the street three times and so many thanks it is hard to convey how heartfelt the gratitude was.

I kept a couple of sets on my person wherever I went and tried especially to give out to street musicians and young players. One musician told me that the only strings available are from China and not held in high regard by players. I felt a little guilty getting all the praise but not doing any work. I mentioned the Victoria Bluegrass Ass'n but bluegrass has not penetrated the blockade as yet. Many thanks for your collecting efforts and letting you know how worthwhile it was.

Bill Gordon

If you or anyone you know is going to Cuba (or elsewhere where they can use used strings), please contact Doug Van Dine and he can give them some used strings to distribute.

Jim Kuresh - Celebration of Life

Jim Kuresh passed away in hospice on Saturday, March 8th, after a courageous battle with cancer. He so enjoyed being a part of the Bluegrass Society and the music was such good medicine for him.

At his request, there will be no funeral service. But his family is planning a celebration of life in his honour Saturday May 31st at Sands on Quadra, tentatively starting around 11 am.

If you wish to attend or perform, please contact Win Kuresh at 250-386-7008. It would be a wonderful tribute to his memory to have some members of the Bluegrass community play a couple of tunes for Jim.


Tempo Trend Music now offers 10% off any and all instruments and accessories. Lessons and consignment instruments excluded. Thank you Tempo Trend !

Tony Rice, Guitar Hero

Check out this New York Times article.

Ain't No Ash Will Burn

Victoria, Colleen and Elizabeth sang this song at the open stage, and several folks wondered where they got the song. Well, it's been floating around the west coast community for many years, but the first band to perform it in these parts was Ranch Romance. They were a terrific cowgirl band from Seattle, fronted by Jo Miller with Lisa Theo, Barbara Lamb and Nancy Katz. Here is a video from 1990 of them performing Western Dream and Ain't No Ash Will Burn. Enjoy!

Our Donation to The Mustard Seed - $557.50

At our annual Xmas potluck and auction on December 17th, we raised a grand total of $557.50 in cash, plus a pickup load of warm clothing and food, all of which we delivered to The Mustard Seed.

Our Donation to Our Place - $870

John Reischman, Alan Law (VBA), Tracy Campbell (Our Place), Ron Norman (Cordova Bay United), Phil Shaver (Sooke River Festival)

The Fifth Annual Christmas Concert and Benefit with John Reischman and The Jaybirds was a big success, resulting in a donation of $870 to Our Place Society. Thanks to our partners Cordova Bay United Church, Sooke River Bluegrass Festival, The Jaybirds, and all of you who attended the show.

Plans for the Sixth Annual are already in the works.


The summer circle jam has been so popular, it has been continued into the fall, but it's shifted to Wednesday night. Check out James Bay Coffee and Books from 7:00pm to 9:00pm every Wednesday.

There is no formal admission but it is expected that participants will buy a coffee, tea, goody or sandwich or such. The jams is led by the attendees, and audients are welcome.

Norm Winquist finishes his last show

Norm Winquist, local legend, has died at the age of 76. He was terrific player, not known for the flashy rock-star stuff, but he had a fabulous slow hand. He was a calming and inspiring influence on dozens if not hundreds of country and bluegrass players. He was a patient, loving teacher, with a thousand friends and no enemies.

His obituary is here.