Monday, November 1, 2010

Ruth Dewhurst, Queen of the banjo (1926-2010)

By Tom Hawthorn
November 1, 2010

Ruth Dewhurst, who has died, aged 84, performed on stage, as well as radio and television, billed as Queen of the Banjo.

She was heard by national audiences as a frequent performer on Some of Those Days, a summer variety program aired by CBC Television for six years in the 1960s. The program, hosted by Bill Bellman, featured a Dixieland band fronted by Lance Harrison, for which Dewhurst played banjo.

The Dixieland band performed at the Canadian pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal before embarking on a 13-city Centennial tour of British Columbia. The tour, which began in Penticton and ended in Campbell River 16 days later, featured hour-long concerts that were recorded for later broadcast by CBC Radio.

The band again traveled the province the following year as part of a “Jazz on Tour ’68” series of free concerts sponsored and aired by CBC.

In 1965, she joined Harrison in recording “The Vancouver Scene,” part of a series of jazz LPs released by RCA Victor.

Dewhurst also played the saxophone for the Rhythm Larks, an all-woman band that played dance music on Saturday nights at Pender Auditorium in Vancouver for 15 years.

Ruth Arleene Dewhurst was born on Feb. 21, 1926, at Calgary. She died in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond on July 27. She was predeceased by Eddie, her husband of 53 years, who died in 1997. She leaves a son, a daughter, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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