John MacKenzie and Ruth Travers sing together at the 7-bar-7 Gospel Jamboree held at Cochin Lake in the Chilcotin earlier this month.

John MacKenzie and Ruth Travers sing together at the 7-bar-7 Gospel Jamboree held at Cochin Lake in the Chilcotin earlier this month.

Singing out at the 7-Bar-7 Gospel Jamboree in the Chilcotin

7-Bar-7 Gospel Jamboree in the Chilcotin draws visitors from B.C., Alberta and the U.S.

When three big name acts from Alberta, Montana and Washington State were unable to make it to the 18th annual 7-Bar-7 Gospel Jamboree at Cochin Lake during the second weekend of August (9-11), local musicians did the only thing they knew how; they got up and performed.

Naturally there were a few surprises as some very skilled musicians showed up from Fort St. John, Prince George, Bella Coola, Williams Lake, the Okanagan, Alberta, Seattle and Arizona to compliment the excellent local talent from Tatla Lake.

There was lots of room onstage for beginners with very rudimentary skills to come up and play a song or two, and the result was a fun time enjoyed by all.

Performers included Bev Butler and Lea Butler on fiddle, Christine Peters on guitar and vocal, Wesley Birchwater on cornet and piano, vocalists Ruth Travers, Lana Birchwater, Charlene Travers, Mekayla Markley and Charlie Travers. Twelve-year-old Caleb Birchwater played a couple of piano pieces, as did Xavier Birchwater.

Their sister, Acacia, played both the piano and fiddle.

Doug Venn from Prince George played several songs with his brother Teddy Venn from Tatla Lake, then was joined by his kids Doug Venn Jr, Nakita Venn and Justin Venn.

John Mackenzie from Eagle Lake played his guitar in a round with fiddlers Bev and Lea Butler, then performed a few solo numbers.

David Lulua, who grew up at Cochin Lake, took to the stage with his guitar and vocals, followed by Luis Mendoza, who made his way to the jamboree from Arizona and offered some incredible licks on piano and guitar.

Teddy Venn accompanied his wife Ruth Kuehl-Venn for a few songs, then Clifford Schuk made a surprise appearance with his daughter, Sydney, singing acapella. Not to be outdone, Allyson Schuk accompanied herself on guitar and sang a couple of tunes.

Perhaps the most memorable musical delight was the contingent of two families originally from the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, who now make their home in Fort St. John. Luke, Stephen and Paul Noble, formerly of Williams Lake, sang some very melodious songs accompanying themselves on guitar, piano and fiddle.

Also from Fort St. John were Tony, Levi, Tianna and Jordy Warriner, who have roots in Bella Coola.

They inspired people with their vocals backed up by lively piano, bass guitar and acoustic guitar.

Shantyman pastor John Noble gave the sermon following the music on Sunday morning, and this was followed by the traditional pot luck feast.

Of course a big part of the 7-7 Gospel Jamboree is the fun time playing in Cochin Lake. Young and old took to the water in a big way as a reprieve from the hot weather.

Everyone extends a big thanks to the Travers family for hosting the memorable occasion for the eighteenth time. Ruth and Charlie Travers recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.


As childhood sweethearts, Charlie says if he had his way, they would have married five years earlier.