Musicians of all shapes, sizes and ages took to the stage over the three days of the 16th Annual 7-7 Gospel Jamboree at Cochin Lake in Tatlayoko Valley, Aug. 12 to 15.
People camped out and socialized, then friends and neighbours joined in to commemorate the 80th birthdays of hosts Charlie and Ruth Travers with a Saturday evening potluck.
The music was led by Darrell Newby and Tom Miller from Columbia Falls, Montana.
Darrell confounded everyone with what has to be the strangest instrument ever made.
He called it a “contraption” built by his father more than 65 years ago. It consisted of two washboards, a cymbal, various curved pieces of pipe, a goat bell and other accessories, but Darrell still managed to coax some pleasing sounds from it accompanying other musicians.
It was a toss-up who travelled the farthest to the jamboree. Luis Mendoza came all the way from southern Arizona, 20 miles from the Mexican border. He flew to Seattle then drove from there. Loulare Moore took two flights from her tiny village of Twin Falls, Ala. on the Bering Sea, to Anchorage, then drove “for three sleeps” in her car, 2,000 miles from Anchorage to Tatlayoko Valley.
Loulare had a special story to tell. She was one of Ruth and Charlie’s students when they taught school at her isolated village near Togiak, Alaska. Ruth taught her in Grade 4, then Charlie was her teacher from grades five to eight. Loulare said the Travers made a big impact on her life and she wanted to travel all that way to thank them personally. “They invested time and effort in our lives up there.”
She said English was her second language when she started school. Yupik (Eskimo) was her first language. “I’ve had Korean people walk up to me and start speaking Korean. I have to tell them I’m Yupik and don’t speak their language.”
Kids of all ages got up to perform on the 7-7 Jamboree stage. Five-year-old Wilson Wedel from Williams Lake, whistled a version of Jesus Loves Me, backed up by his dad, Brucks. Then he got brave enough to sing a verse of the song.
Various members of the Travers family took turns sharing their music. Ruth and Charlie’s daughters, Charlene Travers from Seattle, and Carolyn Knoebel from Kamloops, were joined by their daughters, Lana Birchwater from Lumby and Mekayla Markley from Kamloops, and Ruth, with niece Sandy Ritter from Seattle, in an all-Travers female chorus.
Later Rich Travers from Tacoma sang the only gospel song he knew, then followed it with a humorous song about following a chicken truck up Highway 75 in Georgia.
Pastor Jack Minor from the Bella Coola Pentecostal Church led the Sunday service and throughout the weekend played many musical numbers with various performers.
Roberta Hopkins (on fiddle) and her sister Libby (on guitar), joined their parents Brucks and Shannon Wedel for several songs. Seven-year-old Ascher Wedel also performed a solo number.
Performers included Richard Merritt from Williams Lake, John Mackenzie from Eagle Lake, Mike Holte from Anahim Lake, Ernie and Erna Wedel from Armstrong, Caleb, Acacia and Xavier Birchwater from Lumby, Christine Peters from Tatla Lake, and Loulare Moore from Twin Falls, Ala., and others.