Alpha Barr is 80

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It was either late winter 84 or early 85, when Alpha Barr took over hosting the jams at the Cassidy Inn – she was 54. She continued hosting the jams until Ron Ganderton bought the place and tried to turn it into a blues house. She was 73 or 74 when that happened.

“Mom comes from a musical family that never thought you could ever be too old to learn a new instrument. Everyone in her family was musical in one way or another. Mom told me that she learned to yodel when she was about 10 or 11. She and her neighbour friend, Mary Gomerich, would hurry home after school to listen to a Bellingham radio station that featured a 30 minute country music program at that time.

Backing up a tad… Mom was born in South Wellington on December 9 1929.

The years pass, but Mom can still yodel.” Lavina Galbraith

Alpha Barr's 80th

Alpha Barr’s 80th


Many country musicians remember with fondness the Saturday afternoon jams at the Cassidy Inn with Alpha. She made sure every musician was signed up to play, beer tickets were doled out to those who did – and a chance to win $10.00 in the musicians draw didn’t hurt either. I remember a jam or two that ran pretty much straight through from 3:00pm – closing time. Mom (Diane) in the kitchen was sending out food for the band members.

Thank you, Alpha!



Wayne Peters giving her a bad time on her birthday in 1995

Congratulations, Alpha on reaching 80. I guess the secret is to keep on singing – I’ll give it a try.

8 thoughts on “Alpha Barr is 80

  1. Actually, Alpha was 77ish when Ron Ganderton bought the Cassidy. She denies having told me that she was 73 or 74 at the time. I thought “surely it wasn’t THAT long ago!” Oh well. I’m not sure whose memory is fading faster … mine or hers.
    I doubt many of the musicians and patrons knew how vital the Cassidy jams were to Mom’s (Alpha’s) well being during the years when Dad was sick and after his death. Once a week she got to be Alpha the musician, singer, yodeller instead of the mother, wife, caregiver and worrier.
    My very profound thanks to all of you who have kept my mother young!

  2. When I first met Alpha at the Cassidy in 1984, I was a folkie ,just discovering country music. Family Tradition was playing the day that Phil Brown introduced me to my first country jam.Alpha and her husband, were so kind and encouraging. They used to pick me up on Tuesday nights for the ‘accoustic” jam.There I was introduced to a whole new world. I met Lavina, Hank Stone,Reg, Sherry Lynne, Jan and Bruce, as well as many other musicians that gave me encouragement.Alpha, always kept the musicians in line and made sure that everyone got up to play.She is the Queen of Country music on the island as far as I am concerned.
    Lavina, I remember your beautiful voice, and also how kind you were to a newbie!

  3. Alpha was a very gracious host to all the musicians & made us feel very welcome ,, It was known as ” The Country Bar ” for musicians ,, because of that Johnny James Corbett & I would always do 2 Blues songs first then jump into Country ,, It had the record on the Island as the longest running jam on the Island & I remember celebrating her 17th year there & that was a long time ago as I left Nanaimo in 2000 for Victoria though for the next 3 years I returned nearly every weekend to play ,, God bless Alpha for her patience & diplomacy with the musicians as anyone who has run jams certainly knows it is hard to please everyone & we have all witnessed ego flares at times ,,

  4. More Thanks To Alpha for her Energy and Patience..(more the Latter) when it came tous Musicians…..It was the finest time ever when Alpha ran those jams…..and no foolin’ around either….git’ it done.and get OFF…there’s others to Play…..Love Ya Alpha with all My Heart and there’s no doubt in my mind that many others Love you As I

  5. Alpha was easily the best host at the best jam on the island. I loved playing the jams with Alpha in control, ending with everyone singing “Will the circle be unbroken”. She was even ok with the raunchier, rockier side of the Gypsy Heart band. So many fond memories and I am so thankful to have shared in that experience. Alpha has a very dear spot in my heart.

  6. Alpha is a wonderfully talented lady and I,m so Glad to have gottten to know her and sing some back up stuff here and there, shes always will be in my heart her encourgageing words and gracious presence have kept me in the music world TY Alpha
    LOVE Ya Tina xo

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