Tony Deboer with his daughter, Cindy, and cruising the festival in his golf cart
Special thanks to Ryan Frankhouser and Remington Ryde, who are finishing up a tour in Canada this week, for making us aware of a very special milestone in Canadian bluegrass in March.
Tony Deboer, widely described as the Grandfather of bluegrass in Canada, turns 80 years old this month. 45 of those years have been dedicated to promoting bluegrass in Ontario. While not its founder, Tony took over management of the Northern Ontario Bluegrass Committee when the founders departed some years ago, and now puts on three major festivals each year with his daughter, Cindy, at the River Valley Bluegrass Park he owns in West Nipissing, ON.
The Country & Bluegrass Gathering at River Valley is in its 32nd year, and the River Valley Bluegrass Jamboree in its 35th. Along with Tony’s Wind Up Weekend, these three summer festivals present top traditional bluegrass groups from Canada and the US, with all the trimmings. You’ll find plenty of jamming in the campground, and the sense of family and camaraderie that in endemic to the festival scene, wherever they are held.
Deboer has been at it so long, he had the honor of bringing the Father of Bluegrass himself to perform in Ontario a number of times. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association, and also promotes a close to 2-week tour each year by a prominent US group.
Frankhouser tells us that Canadian grassers recognize Tony’s work as being responsible for much of the spread of the music in Canada, and he’s still going strong into his 8th decade.
“Tony Deboer deserves to be recognized for his dedication to bluegrass music the last 45 years. You won’t find a harder working man than Tony. At age 80 he still promotes the 11 Day Canada Tour, two River Valley Bluegrass Festivals, and the Canadian Bluegrass Awards in Huntsville, Ontario each year.”
Bluegrass Today happily joins Remington Ryde and bluegrass lovers across Canada in saying, Happy Birthday Tony, and thanks for all you do the music!