Little Joey started singing at the age of seven with Tony and Juanita. Later he was with Ken MacKenzie on television. In 1959 he started his own dances at Morton's in Naples. He played there until 1967 when he moved to Lakeland in Windham on Route 302. In 1973 he moved to The Brown Bag in Oxford and played there for about eight years. He then returned to Morton's. He retired from playing about three years ago because of an accident to his hands.
Joey has appeared in The Lewiston Spectacular in 1975. For many years he played the March of Dimes benefits with Bill Clement.
We are pleased that Joey will finally take his place in the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame.
He was an experienced fiddler at the time, having performed in vaudeville and numerous contests and had spent ten years in Tex absorbing the "long bow" style of playing. Only six recorded 78 RPM sides exist of his playing.
In 1925, Mellie Dunham of Maine, a favorite of industrialist Henry Ford, challenged Uncle Jimmy Thompson to a fiddle contest which was never held. A Boston newspaper article concluded: 'The Maine fiddler takes exception to the crowning of Thompson as Americas champion barn dance fiddler fowling a contest which Lasted eight days in Dallas. He may have defeated 86 opponents in the Dallas contest, declared Dunham today, "but they were all Southerners and they don't know as much about barn dance fiddling in that section as they do "down in Maine". I'm ready to meet any and all of them, but I'd rather like to meet Uncle Jimmy Thompson, who claims the title. "Uncle Jimmy's famous reply to the challenger was that: "If Mellie Dunham will come down ... Ill lay with him like a bulldog". Mellie (Allen-son Mellie Dunham) was a farmer and snow maker beside being a fiddler. Judging from the 78 RPM record I have ('Lady of the Lake' and 'Mountain ' Victor 1940) his playing is similar to much of present day contra dance fiddling with piano accompaniment.
Folk music scholar Paul Wells says of Mellie: "Quite frankly. he was a fiddler of average ability and many other musicians felt that his fame was undeserved and that they could do as well or better", but fame he did have. Mellie Dunham, the maker of the snow shoes used by Commodore Robert Perry in his North Pole expedition, played extensively around eastern United States. After winning the title "Champion Fiddler of Maine", he visited Henry Ford in Michigan and embarked upon a series of vaudeville tours in Boston, New York City, and in other New England States. In appearance, he was described as a sawed off Mark Twain, which was perfect for the part.
His fiddlin brought attention to the New England fiddling tradition and he made four records for Victor in 1926. Other New England fiddlers to record soon afterward included Joe Shippee of Connecticut and John Wilder, Calvin Coolidges uncle and leader of the "Plymouth, Vermont 0ld Time Barn Dance Orchestra.
"Coastline" Charlie was born on Orrs Island on July 13, 1924. He began playing the Ukulele when he was young and later took up the rhythm guitar and made his singing debut at the age of five.
He served with the US NAVY from 1942 to 1946. While serving with the Navy, he played all over the United States and entertained his fellow mates aboard ship. While stationed in Honolulu, he performed over two years over Station WKGU. After his discharge, he formed a band called CHARLIE AND THE COUNTRY BOYS. He played with Jimmy Cox on the Ken MacKenzie Television show on WGAN for more than eight years. He and Jimmy formed a bluegrass Band called THE BLUE MOUNTAIN BOYS. Although Charlie can neither read or write music, he composed and arranged CASCO BAY. They made their first recording of CASCO BAY and THE LITTLE BROWN JUG in 1959. CASCO BAY went to #1 on the Country Charts.
In 1972 Charlie had formed another band called COASTLINE CHARLIE AND THE COASTLINERS and re-recorded CASCO BAY with a new sound. He has had his own TV Show on WBLZ, Channel 2 in Bangor and appeared on Channels 6, 8 and 13. He has done the March of Dimes Show, many Bluegrass Festivals and a lot of benefits. He has played with such stars as Hank Snow, Mac Wiseman, Ken MacKenzie, Dick Curless, Ernest Tubb and several more.
In 1986, he won the BLUEGRASS ARTIST of the Year Award from MCMA. Charlie is a fisherman and one of his prize possessions is his boat the "YOU AND I". He recently formed a band called the COASTLINERS. He is still performing, with sell out crowds, all over this great State of Maine. He is very much a part of Maine's history in Country Music. Charlie has a deep love for his profession and the people for whom he performs.
Maurice Fournier, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Fournier was born on May 3, 1923 in Lewiston, Me. He attended St. John's High School in Bangor and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1943.
He developed an early interest in Country Music. He started listening to MQVA, and at a very early age and dreaming of the time when he could appear on stage. Maurice started taking music lessons at the age of 12. A road show played in the area and he heard a Hawaiian Steel for the first time. This really sparked his interest in show business. While still attending High School in the early 1940's, Maurice played the lap Hawaiian Steel with local dance bands. After High School he traveled extensively with the Ernie Lindell Show and Jack Thurlow.
Maurice had been close friends with Bob Bedard, a violin maker since 1941, and in 1949 they started working together in the music business, selling and repairing musical equipment.
In 1953, he opened Maurice Music Mart in Lewiston and many musicians in the area will never forget his generosity. He was always willing to provide an instrument in case of an emergency.
In 1953, he married Eva who was then a singer at WCOU in Lewiston. Eva passed away in 1978 and since then he has been acting as both father and mother to five children. He had confined his playing to weekends, spending the extra time with the children, two of whom were still at home. Business commitments kept Maurice away from the active part of Country Music that he loved so much for over twenty years; However, he had formed the MOONLIGHTERS and was again enjoying the spotlight on weekends . He played pedal steel. Maurice had worked for Stromboli, 180 Lisbon St., Lewiston for many years. At the time of his death, he was working for Music Works in Lewiston.
Elmer Larson was born in Portland, Maine on Dec. 12, 1931. He became interested in playing the guitar at the age of twelve. In the fifty's Elmer played for " Fiddlin Hank lngalls". He played with Dick Butts and the Troubadours, Hazel B and the Zodiacs, Duke Knight Trio, Little Joey and The Country Playboys and numerous television and radio stations.
Elmer has played with and backed such notables as Alton Britt, Dick Curless, Charlie Gilliam, Marvin Rainwater and many more. He has played throughout the state of Maine to a great many fans enjoyment and pleasure.
Elmer has worked the March Of Dimes Benefit for over four years. He has helped many young musicians get their start, and has unselfishly helped to promote them. Elmer started his own band "Country Fever" and has been going strong for nine years. Elmer and his band have won awards, including Most Promising, Vocal Group, Instrumentalist, and the last 5 years the #1 country band of the year of the Maine Country Music Association. Elmer was also the recipent of the Duke Knight Award.
Elmer and Joanne have been married for 37 years, and have 5 children, six grandchildren. Elmer owns his own business, Larson's Salvage and Auto. It should also be noted that he co-owned the famous Dancemore Hall in West Baldwin and ran successful dances in the 60's. Elmer has been a member of the M.C.M.A. and for years has raised money for the organization with a program at Beaver Brook Campgrounds. It has tripled the monies in the Hall Of Fame Building fund the last three years. This has been a tremendous success for the M.C.M.A. He also does a great job at the picnic at Wasampski Springs in Westbrook, Maine. Elmer serves on committees and is always ready to help, listen and give advice. He is a hard worker and dedicated, there should be 50 more like him. He And Joanne are avid campers and go to all the campgrounds, to help or to perform.
Jeanie Carter, daughter of Willard and Harriett Googins, was born on Dec.2,1925 in Westbrook, Maine. She Graduated from Westbrook High School in 1944 and went to business college. Show business lured her away from a business career for awhile but she has managed to combine both during the last 18 years.
She started her career at age 13 as a singer and dancer(Dot & Jean, the dancing team) working for Ken MacKenzie in 1938 when he had his very first show. Besides dancing on country shows, they appeared in theater stage shows and hotel and nightclub floor shows around the New England area. After six years with Ken, she went with Tony and Juanita and then in 1946 she joined Bud Bailey and the Downeasters, when Bud took the show to St.Joseph, Missouri, where they broadcasted six shows a day on station YFEQ. While playing with Bud in Missouri, Harold Carter joined the show and they were married in 1947 and their daughter Candance was born in 1948.
Jeanie and Harold formed their own band called, The Riders Of The Pony Express and they helped save the original Pony Express from being torn down, by doing benefits and broadcasts.
After returning to Maine in 1948, she worked with many of Maine's great country artists. Gene Hooper, Hal Lone Pine, and Betty Cody, where they did the first coast-to-coast radio broadcast on the network. This is when she learned to play bass. The contract called for six musicians and they only had five. She was on the first live television show from Bangor with Curly O'Brien, on channel 8, Poland Springs with Ernie Lindell and she sang in a trio with Dick Curless and Harold Carter. She also played with Sleepy Willis.
While living and working in Wheeling, West Virginia in the early 1950's, she played on the Old Wheeling Jamboree. She returned to Portland in 1969 and started to play with Little Joey And The Country Playboys and was with him until his retirement because of illness in 1985. In 1975 they were voted #l country band of the year and recorded "If They Took All The Love Out Living". It played for several weeks on WPOR charts. Jeanie is currently playing with Elmer Larson and Country Fever, joining in 1986.
Ray Little, son of George and Helen Petit, was born September 4, 1913 in Henniker, New Hampshire. Ann was born February 1, 1920.
Ray started his career in country music with the Crockerville Mountaineers, one of the first Hillbilly Bands in the Northeast Region, broadcasting daily over WNAC in Boston in 1930. In 1935 he started his own group, the Musical Cowboys, and toured throughout New England. While operating the M Bar C Ranch in Shirley, Massachusetts in 1939, Ann went to work for him and they have been together ever since.
In 1940, while working in Lewiston, they met Hal Lone Pine and Betty Cody. They traveled back and forth from Maine to Massachusetts for several months then moved to Bangor where Ray performed on WLBZ radio.
In 1941, they opened the M Bar C Ranch, in Carmel, Maine, and featured such guests as: Ken Maynard, who starred in over 100 western shows, Big Jim "The Cowboy", Hal Lone Pine, Gene Hooper, Yodlin' Slim Clark, 3 Sons of the Pioneers and many others.
Ray joined the Army in 1942 and served until 1945. He and Ann were married in May, 1945 and spent several years living and working in Canada. In 1950 he played on the radio and on television with a live jamboree in many areas of western Maine and the western U.S.
They retired from traveling in 1956 and returned to Maine. operating a theater in Milbridge in the summer and going on the road in the winter.
They switched from entertaining to .square dance calling in 1962. Their musical instruments made them very popular.
They retired from country music for the last time in 1972 having many wonderful years and meeting many wonderful people.
Douglas Wellington, Son Of George T. and Margaret Charlong Wellington, was born in Camelton, New Brunswick April 10, 1925.
In 1936 he moved to the United States with his parents and received his education in Keene, New Hampshire schools. Rusty fell in love with country music the first time he heard a guitar and hoped to be a country and western singer someday. He wasted no time fulfilling his ambition as he started his singing career at the age of 13, touring first with Tex Ritter and later Hank Williams Sr. and Hank Snow.
He served with the army during World War two, from 1943 to 1946. Rusty acquired the title of "Mr. Versatile" from his many talents of singing, composing, emceeing, comedy and imitations. These talents took him to five different countries and most every state in the U.S.
For forty years he toured the U.S. and Canada in country concerts. During his career he produced more than 50 records and three albums. Two of his recordings became top 10 country hits. In the early 60's he was a guest on the Ernest Tubb's show, wrote for Bill Haley and the Comets and was lead vocalist for the Down Homers. For several years in the 1970's Rusty had his own show on Channel 8, known as the Rusty Wellington Show. He also appeared on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts, Perry Como Show and a CBS Network show, "Action in the Afternoon", out of Philadelphia.
Rusty wrote two songs about Maine, "The Allagash" and "Packed in Maine." He later became an Evangelist Preacher writing and recording gospel music and touring the country as a gospel singer.
In 1986 he was nominated for the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame and was presented the Maine Country Music Associations Gospel Entertainer of the Year Award. Although Rusty was not born in Maine he said he wanted to be "Packed in Maine."
Norm has worked in country music for the past 37 years. For 5 years, he had the first "live music" show on WKTQ radio in South Paris. He also taught guitar during the early years. He has been blind since age 7 because of cataracts and glaucoma but his love of country music kept him going and he taught himself to play lead guitar, keyboard, bass and accordion.
He has worked with many "Hall of Fame" members, including Hal Lone Pine, Dick Curless, Betty Cody, Gene Hooper, Sleepy Willis, Jeanie Carter Johnson, Little Joey and Elmer Larson, playing shows and clubs throughout the area. He also has his own recording of "White Lightning" and "Pass Me By." In addition, he has played background on records for Charlie Gilliam and Elton Record.
Being blind, Norm has memorized over 500 songs. He has had a lot of T.V., radio and newspaper coverage through the years. He has also received awards from MCMA and DECMA.
Donating his time and talent is special to Norm. Many times he has played at Pineland, Market Square Health Facility and for senior citizens and grange meetings. He has also played at the Fryeburg Fair for 19 years. Norm is working now with a group called "The Country Lads." He also has a 2-piece group with his wife, Betty, called "Just The Two Of Us"
"Happy Jack" Thurlow is one of the pioneers of Maine Country Music who followed the schedule of daily radio broadcasts and traveling nightly to play shows. He received his first guitar from his dad in 1935 and went on the road in 1939 playing for dances in Portland. He has been in the country music business for 50 years.
Cecil and his wife Louis, worked together for years touring throughout the States and Canada presenting one of the best family shows at that time. In the mid-50,s Jack worked with Ernie Lindell,s Rhythm Ranch Show on WMTW-TV traveling extensively.
During the 60,s, Jack and Louise operated "Happy Jack's" Club in Augusta featuring many top acts from the original WWVA Wheeling Jamboree. Jack has recently made a cassette tape with Jack Cox and the "Silver Dollar Band-" He has always worked to promote country music throughout his years in the business.
His wife, Louise, passed away in 1976. Jack still performs and when he gets on the stage you can see that nice smile and warm personality that earned him the stage name of "Happy Jack."
Dickie Monroe's musical career started in 1945 with Smiling Bill Waters on WHEB in Portsmouth. Then went to work for Bob Whitten and his Tent Show (which featured movie star Ken Maynard) traveling from Milbridge, Me. to Greenville, N.C.
In 1946 he worked for Norma and the Melody Playboys on WMOU, Berlin, N.H. Going to Bangor in 1947, he went to work for the Pierson Brothers on WABI. In Portland in 1948, he joined Ken MacKenzie on WGAN radio. He also worked for Tony and Juanita and Buddy Durham on WCSH, Ray Bradley and the Tennessee Champions on WAGM, Presque Isle and Bud Bailey on WHEB, Portsmouth.
He entered the Army in 1951 and was stationed in Alabama where he played accordion in off-base clubs. Dickie joined Ken MacKenzie in 1953 after getting out of the service. He continued working with Ken MacKenzie on WGAN-TV until 1971.
Pete Dixon started his musical career in 1937 playing harmonica. Later he taught himself to play fiddle and guitar. His first playing job in 1939 was on WHEB in Portsmouth with Tex and Susan Mason. In 1940-41 he worked with Paul and Ann Roberts.
He served in the Army during World War II and played in many bands that entertained in California, Florida and the South Pacific. Returning from the service, he started his own band with two of his brothers. "The Dixon Brothers" had a radio show on WPOR with Ray Williams and toured throughout New England on The Ken MacKenzie Show.
He joined Ken MacKenzie's band in 1949 and was with him for many years, appearing on radio and television and making personal appearances. Pete later formed his own band, playing the Maine and New Hampshire area. In the late 60's and 70's he joined the Saco Fire Department's Dixieland Band as a bass player performing at many functions in New England.
In the 1980's he became active in Fiddle Contests and Blue Grass Festivals. He currently plays fiddle with "Pard and The Countrymen", appearing in clubs in Maine and New Hampshire.
In 1984, he received the "Harold Carter Memorial Award" presented by the Downeast Country Music Association.
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