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Ronald D. Scott was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia on June 1, 1926. His brothers played what he refrs to as "depression guitar" and Ron started on guitar but switched to fiddle and mandolin. Bought his first used mandolin for $5.00, got a few tips from Alfred Robichard and Fred Riley amd was on his way.
Ron did his first shows with Harold King (The Cobequid Mountain Boy) from Springhill. In 1947 he toured with Hank Snow playing both fiddle and mandolin. He then moved to Kingston, Ontario where he attended Queen's University and studied languages and speaks several fluently. While in Kingston he formed a group called "The Riders of The Southern Trails". During this time they went on the road with Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper.
After university Ron moved to Montreal. He worked with the International Service of the CBC and remained there until transferred to CBC Windsor, Ontario. His most productive years in music were in Montreal. In 1955 he played with a band called the "Cinch Brothers" though nobody's name was Cinch. This was the first Canadian bluegrass band to have a regular radio show, which was the The Hometown Jamboree on CFCF Montreal. In May of 1957 Ron recorded the first bluegrass record in Canada on the Spartan label featuring "When the Bees are in the Hive" and "The White Rose". The Bees got extensive airplay and would have been a hit with better distribution. After the Hometown Jamboree, Ron played several years with The Bobby Hill Show going coast to coast on CBC radio. He say, played mandolin and did some comedy. He is featured on their 1966 RCA LP entitled Bobby Hill on Tour.
When transferred to CBC Windsor in 1966, Ron found there was no bluegrass. However he occasionally got to Detroit and played mandolin with Roy McInnes & the Sunnysiders. The only recording he did was on other peoples' records in the United States.
Ron didn't record again until 1993 when he did Nova Scotia Calling which includes some of his own songs. Backup is by his friends from the Montreal years, The Southern Ramblers, with Guy Carpenter playing a dobro made by Ron who also makes mandolins and is a writer of note.
Don Messer was born in Tweedside, New Brunswick on May 9, 1909. He loved the violin and at five years of age could play a tune on his older brother's violin. At sixteen Don moved to Boston to live with an aunt and while there took some lessons and learned to read music. After returning to New Brunswick he began to play and in 1934 started his regular broadcasts as Don Messer & His New Brunswick Lumberjacks. In 1938 the band began recording for the Cornpo Company in Montreal, first on their Melotone label, later Apex and finally MCA. The first records were recorded off the radio shows through pre-arranged instructions.
In 1939 Don was asked by Art McDonald to move to CFCY in Charlottetown and take over the Islanders. This was a positive move as CFCY was the place to be and he still broadcast coast to coast on CBC. Don did his first TV show in 1956 and by 1957 had a regular show on CBC Halifax. He moved to Nova Scotia permanently in 1958.
In 1959 Don Messer & The Islanders were the summer replacement of the Tommy Hunter Show going across Canada on TV. The show was so popular that it remained year round. However, after 10 years the CBC brass in Ontario cancelled the show even though it was continually in the top 10 ratings. This caused an uprising across the entire country that was never known before or since. Thousands of letters, phone calls and petitions came to the CBC in protest. As always, the CBC refused to admit it was wrong. In spite of this there was no lapse in the TV show as Don and the Islanders went to Hamilton, Ontario each summer and taped the shows which were then distributed to private stations across the country.
Over the years Don made many cross country tours playing to packed houses. Don passed away on March 26, 1973, but his music remains as popular as ever.
Gordon D. "Tex" Cochrane was born in Sweet's Corner. Nova Scotia on June 14, 1914. While in school he learned to play guitar with the help of Cecil and Leslie Flynn. The family was aware of his musical ability and an older brother. Aubrey, bought him a guitar In 1935 Tex started broadcasting on CHNS in Halifax but soon moved to CFCY in Charlottetown which at the time was the top station in the Maritime Provinces. Here he got better promotion and coverage. Tex soon got a sponsor in Mother's Own Tea who soon gave him a raise in pay when then sales doubled, he was later sponsored by Davis & Lawrenc Pharmaceutical of Montreal. During this time Tex also played with George Chappelle & The Merry Islanders who were on CFCY and also heard coast to coast on the CBC.
In 1937 LA. (Art) McDonald of CFCY knew that due to Tex's popularity he should be recording and suggested this to A. Hugh Joseph who was A & R man for the Canadian division of RCA Victor. Mr. Joseph agreed and the records sold well enough that he was given a better royalty deal on his sessions in 1938 and 1939. In 1939 Don Messer was brought to CFCY to take over the Islanders and Tex remained until joining the army in 1940.
In spite of his popularity Tex never resumed his career in music but remained in the army and retired in 1963 with the rank of Major. After the army he worked in the trucking industry finally retiring as Manager of Sales & Public Relations for the transport division of the McCain Foods empire.
In the 1980's Tex was surprised to find he was still remembered and that collectors all over the world were trying to locate his old recordings. He was contacted by Cattle Records in Germany and in 1985 they re-issued his old RCA material.
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