The Downeasters came together as a working group in 1956, consisting of Warren "Rusty" Roache, acoustic guitar; Kenny Meisner, fiddle; Dave "Sonny" Fenerty, violin; mandolin, and five-string banjo; Mervin Maxwell, pedal steel guitar; and Roy Eastman, acoustic bass. It was in this format that the group made its earliest broadcast performances from the Halifax studios of CBC Radio. Thanks to enthusiastic audience reaction, the Downeasters soon had their own fifteen-minute TV Show on CBC television. The show was very popular and ran for about five years, during the heyday of black-and-white television. The band had several personnel changes. When Roy Eastman relocated, the bass fiddle slot was taken by "Red Mike" MacDonald and then Wendell Simm. Chuck Lohnes, Teddy Trutz and Hughie "Champ" Johnston each appeared during various periods on steel guitar. Dale Wood brought his mandolin to the group as their sound began to gravitate towards Bluegrass. Through all this, original members Rusty, Sonny and Kenny stayed on as a solid core of the group. And so the Downeasters remained a cohesive country band, with a repertoire that included bluegrass, southern and western style fiddle, classic ballads as well as a number of other styles. The group also kept busy with live performances throughout the Maritimes. They became one of the all-time top Maritime country acts - an attraction that local audiences knew and loved. Dave Fenerty's death in 1979 brought an end to the original trio, but his contribution has lived on in the performances of his band mates. With Wendell Simm and Dale Wood now playing regularly alongside Rusty and Kenny, the Downeasters name remains a hallmark of the best Maritime country talent, with special performances still keeping the sound alive.
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