by Harit Joshi —

An establishment with over 40 years is in dire need for some fresh blood. The Old Time Fiddlers Association of Merritt are making an earnest appeal to young Merrittonians to join them in their pursuit of promoting and preserving folk and country music, keeping it alive and kicking.

At 65, Ross Fairweather, the secretary of the association, is the youngest of the 50-odd member group. And he isn’t pleased with the scenario.

 “We really need to reach out to the young people. We are trying that through schools where we can get their involvement and active participation,” Fairweather told the Merritt Herald in his soothing voice during a chat while sipping his coffee. 

Fairweather recently came out with his own album, Long Time Coming, that can be accessed through iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music.

The Old Time Fiddlers Association of Merritt was formed with the sole purpose of promoting and preserving folk and country music particularly through played on the fiddle.  Fairweather highlighted the benefits of the $20 annual membership fee. 

“We hold jam sessions every other Tuesday evening at 2025 B Quilchena Street. It is an old Armstrong general store, which is converted into a live music venue. It is a historical structure and holds a special place in the community,” remarked Fairweather, who strongly recommended taking a tour when it is open for public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Wednesday to Friday of the week. “The acoustics are fantastic there. We love playing in there. It sounds so good. It is the best venue to experience live music. I would say it is one of the best venues to play music. It was earlier the Hall of Fame, but now it is known as the Hall of Honour. One will be surprised to see the famous pictures of musicians who are basically Canadians by birth.”

Although the jam sessions are open only to the members, the annual membership gives access to live shows with a $5 discount on the ticket price. 

“So that’s covering your membership fees in just a few live shows. The membership fee is literally negligible. We also encourage members to play the instruments through jam sessions as that keeps them going. Once they are keen to pursue it further, they can hire a private instructor to advance into music,” Fairweather added. 

Another “most important” aspect of the association is its bursary. 

“We provide scholarship to students specially for pursuing music. That’s an important function of the organization. We also raise a lot of funds through 50/50 draws and stuff like that,” he stressed. 

The decline of fiddle players in B.C. is also another concern for Fairweather. 

“There are not many around. We just have two very very good players. So, it is a challenge to keep folk and country music at the forefront,” he said. 

That’s essentially the reason newer ideas and vigor are what the Old Time Fiddlers Association is seeking in their quest to keep the tradition from dying. You can join their Facebook group, Old Timer Fiddlers Association of Merritt, to support the community.