The Strummers: (back row) Pat Miller

The Strummers: (back row) Pat Miller

Two dozen strummers strumming

A recreational musical group known as the "Strummers" meets at the Echo Centre every Thursday morning.

“If you have a dusty guitar, just tucked away in the closet, how would you like to learn to play it?”

Those were Barbara Lehtonen’s words when she advertised the beginning of a new musical group, now known as the “Strummers”, at Echo Centre in 2006-07.

Barbara, a well-known local musician, began offering the three-chord method of guitar playing to which a person did not need to know to read or know music.

Cheryl Hanson, a director with the Strummers, says: “My husband Glen had a guitar that just sat around; he plunked out a few runs on it every few months. I wanted him to join the Sunshine Club to meet others, so we both signed for guitar.

“I had no intention of continuing, but it turned out it was something we both could do together and I enjoy it!”

That was their musical introduction and the beginning of the group, which now has more than 20 regular members who meet in the Fir room at Echo Centre every Thursday morning.

“Although we did not qualify as knowledgeable guitar players at the time Barb decided not to continue with us; we agreed to assist with its coordination, thus avoiding the folding of the group, as no one wanted to be in charge”, adds Hanson. Glen became the director in 2009.

Cheryl also recalls that in the early years of their “humble beginnings” not many members were at hand and empty seats were visible at many of their practices. Soon after, the members of another musical group, the Auto Harps, asked to mingle with the Strummers once in order to see what it was like to play with others. This early experiment proved to be successful and now, after several years together, they have been a great addition to the Strummers.

“Cheryl and I have spent many hours over these years finding and transposing songs, printing songs, books and practising to try to get the songs right. (Cheryl does all the printing). Over the years Strummers has evolved from a beginners’ learning group into more of a social event.

“Our main goal is to have everybody enjoy themselves in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere,” says Glen Hanson, now the assistant director.

“I ‘inherited’ my guitar from my children”, says Edilia Delano, an eight-year member. “Cheryl and I used to work at Zellers, before the store folded almost a decade ago. One day she interested me in joining the Strummers, so I did, and a few years later, here I am, still enjoying my old guitar and playing along with a nice group of enthusiastic musicians.”

“June McInroy, Chrys Tromans and I began teaching ourselves how to play the auto harp at Chrys’s house back in 2008,” says Julie Rutter, a Sunshine Club member of many years. Another group member, Judy Pinchback, began playing the auto harp two years ago and soon after joined the Strummers. “I came to Port Alberni three and a half years ago and became part of the Sunshine Club, which gave me the opportunity to make good new friends. This is a great group!”

“Currently, we have 22 members who come regularly to our practices, eight of them from the original starting group. And we also have had violins, harmonicas, mandolin, bass tub and banjo,” Glen said.

Kathy Lennox, a former home care nurse and one of the original members of the Strummers, joined the Sunshine Club after retirement. “For me, the Thursday practices are the best two hours of my week. I love it,” she said enthusiastically. “And what is remarkable and wonderful is the fact that we have a group whose members are not judgemental.”

This sentiment is also shared by others in the group when they say: “We have fun playing with others and there is no pressure to perform anywhere unless we would like to. For most it is just a social time.”

Strummers members have also shared their musical talent with others in the community, such as Echo Centre’s “Special Events”, Sunshine Club Open House, and, although they do not perform at many events outside Echo Centre, they have entertained at Echo Village, Abbeyfield House and West Haven seniors’ homes. Glen adds that the group has also done occasional presentations at members’ birthday parties, anniversaries and a celebration of life.

“Things are going well, no doubt we have a great group, but at this time we are operating at full capacity.”

“We do appreciate Cheryl and Glen. They are just great,” says Julie.

 

Just Posted

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens after accident at Taylor River Flats

Multi-vehicle crash had closed highway to west coast

The Rollin Art Centre is holding children’s art camps this summer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Celebrate art in the garden

Rollin Art Centre will host art event on Saturday, June 26

The King Edward Liquor Store sponsored the Alberni Golf Club’s event on June 13. From left to right are Ken Porteous (manager of the King Edward Liquor Store) and Alberni Golf Club Members Don MacGowan, John Robbins and Wayne Cheveldave. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ALBERNI GOLF: Doug Cheetham records hole in one

Next Sunday is an open day with the best gross and the best net up for grabs

Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous writer, artist and educator. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Electric Mermaid online event hosts panel of Indigenous writers

Event takes place through Char’s Landing in Port Alberni

San Group owners Suki, left, and Kamal Sanghera with technical manager Richard Zeller at their facility in Port Alberni in Feb. 2021. The forestry company is looking at expanding its business into northwest B.C. by setting up a manufacturing unit in Terrace. (SUSAN QUINN/ Black Press file photo)
Forestry company San Group eyes Terrace for northwest B.C expansion

The company looks at Skeena Industrial Park to set up a sawmill manufacturing unit

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read