The Fine Companions is the Village Green house band and is composed of a talented group of musicians. Many of the band members are also instructors and dancers! They provide us with wonderful live music to accompany our various dances and demonstrations.
Liz Goossen (dulcimer)
Mary Louise Chown (dulcimer, guitar, percussion)
Art Quanbury (clarinet & penny whistle)
Virginia Stevens (recorder)
Mike Wahn (flute)
Mark McLearon (recorder & fiddle)
Kevin Scott (recorder, guitar & concertina)
Joan Stevenson (piano/keyboard)
The Fine Companions
Submitted by Joan Stevenson
Liz Goossen informs me that the beginnings of this group took place in the early 1980s. She recalls that Sherman Himelblau (recorder) was actually the impetus when he invited Liz (Dulcimer) and Roman Soble (accordion) to join him in making music. Word has it that after awhile, they had a repertoire of 6 tunes and were asked to entertain at the upcoming Christmas party. Voila, a band was beginning to take shape.
The main intention for the band was to accompany dancers but as the repertoire expanded (my guess is that we now have a file of over 300 tunes) we began to venture playing for various other events such as: festivals, weddings, conventions, senior’s residences and funerals. The music is wonderful for listening as well as for dancing and it is a lot of fun to play!
Sometime around 1985, the group took on its current name The Fine Companions taken from a tune by the same title*, dated 1651. We have for our use, a wonderful sign hand painted for The Fine Companions by Esme Boone; this treasure depicts in whimsical caricatures the ‘early’ band members and their instruments. What fun!
By about 1985, Elizabeth Clutten-Brock (percussion), Mary Louise Chown and Art Quanbury were added to the original trio followed by Joan Stevenson a year or so later. We usually rotated between houses that had a piano (and a fairly large space to practise) until the time came when we had enough money to purchase a portable keyboard. Besides making rehearsal spots easier to select it also means that we do not have to check/tune the piano before each gig!
For various reasons, over the years several players have come and gone. The group that had been together the longest consists of: Liz Goossen, Mary Louise Chown, Art Quanbury, Joan Stevenson, Virginia Stevens (1986), Barry Webster (1988-currently living in BC), Mike Wahn (1991) and Mark McLearon (2006). It was this group that had the privilege and pleasure of recording a CD in 2010 called Daisies in the Wind. This is a wonderful collection of many fine dance tunes among them 12 composed by Liz Goossen.
Last but certainly not least, Kevin Scott joined the band in 2013. He has been coming out to practises for a few months and is beginning to see what we are all about. Rehearsals are mostly a lot of fun, yes, sometimes a little frustrating but usually they present opportunities for learning & laughter. I hope that I speak for the others when I say that we have become a musical family-of- sorts and we are indeed friends. So on that note, I believe that the name Fine Companions remains an appropriate one!
* This tune can be found in The Book of English Country Dance Tunes compiled by Peter Barnes, 1995.
Excerpt from our First Ten Years
The early 80’s saw members of the group travel to Minneapolis and Mendocino. The music at these events was breath-taking. How we longed for a band here in Winnipeg. Elizabeth Goossen, Sherman Himelblau, and Ron Harris met to play a little. Roman Soble joined them and soon we had live music. Out of this grew the Fine Companions.