Loyal Blues Fellowship Inc.
is a volunteer not-for profit community Blues Society serving Quinte West, Belleville, Prince Edward and Northumberland Counties. Bay of Quinte Country
and Great Waterway regions.
We are proud
affiliates of the International Blues Foundation with
an active local
Blues in The Schools Program
  How Can I Help?  

- Become a volunteer
- Buy a raffle Ticket;
- Join the Fellowship; and
- Support our events.

The Fellowsip raises Funds for our BITS Program from both private and business sponsors, and merchanise and ticket sales at our live music events.


Grade 7/8 band instrumentalists are from left to right :
Eve O'Kane, guitar; Rick Fines, Jack Walsh, bass; Charlie Meades guitar, Jodi Newman & Elizabeth Semlitch, keyboard; and Gavyn Anderson, guitar.

Rick with the Kindergarten class

Grade 8
   Grade 7/8 vocalists with Rick Fines, classroom teacher Juliana Anderson and music teacher Sandra Allanson Kelly

  Representing the grade 4/5 & 5/6 classes with Rick are the instrumentalists for the grade 6/7 class:
  John English, percussion; and    Ryan Archer, bass

Chris & Dianna at Eds
Chris and Dianna - 2013

Harmonica Ed & Rck
Harmonica Workshop with
Rick Cooke - 2011

Rett Wills - 2011

Rick Fines BITS workshop at Centennial Secondary - 2007


Blues in the School Links & Resource Pages:

The Blues Classroom, - Martin Scorsese PBS series -The Blues

Sugar and Gold - Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley

Mr. Blues in the School - Fruteland Jackson's Homepage

The Blue Shoe Project


  Press Releases and Media

    2007 - Rick Fines

    2006 - Rick Fines

The Fellowship has
an active Blues In
The Schools (BITS) program.
Contact us if you are interested.

Each year we hold regional competitions to select a
BAND and SOLO DUO act to represent us in Memphis'

International Blues Challenge

Blues in the Schools Raffles

to Linzy McMurter,

the winner of the IBANEZ AF75 raffle drawn from the Main Stage at the Frankford Island Blues Festival Saturday July 14th

GRW Oct11  

to Chip Barcier
of Madoc,
the winner
of the October
Guitar raffle!

to Steve Boyde, Winner of the Marshall Guitar Amplifier drawn
at our AGM,
June 12th. 2011

GRW June 11

Chris and Dianna
Dianna Baithwhiaite and
Chris Whitley - 2009


How Can My School Participate in a BITS program?

  To be added to the email distribution list for notices
of upcoming "BITS sessions e-mail
bits@loyalblues.ca   Please include the name of
the school your represent, or that you or your child attends, with grade and
home room teacher.

We would like to thank all the business and corporate sponsors for their support
LosCabos Drumsticks
Marshall Canada
Shure Canada
  Latin Percussion
  Long & McQuade
D'Addario, Canada



About Us
Blues Foundation

What is Blues in the Schools?

In 1978, the City of Chicago public schools introduced the "Blues in the Schools" (BITS) program which is still going strong more than three decades later and has since spread around the world. Professional blues musicians are invited into schools to conduct classes on the history of the blues, famous blues musicians, different styles of blues, and how to write, sing and perform the blues.

The Loyal Blues Fellowship is proud to have a BITS program in place. First offered in 2005 in the Quinte region, we have been expanding our range each year.

The BITS Program has brought musicians to classes at schools in Belleville, Quinte West, Prince Edward & Hastings Counties. We have offered yearly programs featuring sessions with Canadian blues musicians: Ila Vann; Chris Whitley and Diana Braithwaite; Harrison Kennedy, Rick Fines, Suzie Vinnick, Rett Wills, Rick Cooke and the fellowship's, Ed Fowler, Peg Voigt and Joe Callahan.

With the help of a volunteer staff comprised of fans, educators, and music professionals, this program is run through out the school year, and provides not only music but also education in the history and social conditions of the times and places where blues music was created. We feel that there are many valuable lessons that can be learned through a study of blues that are very relevant to today's students and we provide these programs for this reason and also to help keep blues music alive and well, both now and in the future.

The current Blues in the Schools session will feature performer Michael Schatte at Centennial Secondary School, Belleville and Rick Fines with a week long residency at St. Pauls, Norewood, ON.

If you are interested in volunteering to help directly or would like your school involved please contact: Peggy Voigt, Blues in the Schools Committee Chair
Loyal Blues Fellowship Inc. 613-392-1025


  In 2016 and Spring 2017, the Blues in the Schools program produced five events. All were a BITS workshop at a regional school followed by an evening concert headlined by the BITS artist. The first was with Kim Doolittle at Belleville Secondary and an evening house concert.
Second was Suzie Vinnick at Centennial Secondary. Suzie demonstrated and talked about Blues music, guitar playing and vocals. Suzie headlined the 10th Anniversary LBF showcase with four Fellowship acts opening. Third was Harrison Kennedy at Trenton High School and the Belleville Club with Matt Smith opening for Harrison. Harrison talked about the roots of country Blues and played a tenor banjo for the students.
Forth was Michael Schatte at Trenton High and the Old Church Theatre with Shaun Dore opening.
Lastly, Rick Fines was at Percy Centennial in Warkworth and the Clocktower with the Joe Callahan Trio. Apart from attendance, the series achieved its goals; BITS workshops/concerts, local artists promotion, spreading the series across the area. The legacy of this program was evidenced at St. Mary's where Rick Fines has conducted workshops for the past many years. Students that were with Rick in grade five are now in grade eight, (and as noted by Rick) playing instruments and songwriting at a proficient level. Moving forward, the program will seek further funding to conduct another Blues in Small Spaces series for the 17/18 season.

Rick Fines was back at St. Mary’s School, Campbellford for November 16-20 and Percy Centennial, Warkworth for December 7-11 2015.
He conducted four workshops where his students learned the history of Blues music, from the music’s African-American roots in the early 1800s to its influence in all contemporary popular music forms. The four groups wrote their own Blues song for a school assembly.
   After the workshops, Lindsey Martin (SERT/Intermediate Music at Percy Centennial) wrote: “Without a doubt, Rick has left the students feeling inspired and more knowledgeable and appreciative of the Blues. I had my Grade 7 and 8 music classes reflect on the week, including their first impressions, what they learned about Blues music, song-writing, and themselves, as well as their thoughts and feelings about the experience.”

  Suzie Vinnick conducted a singer workshop on the Women of the Blues at Centennial Secondary on the 5th of December, 2014. She also performed at the Active Arts Studio that evening with the proceeds going back into the BITS program.  

   Rick Fines was in Picton for April 14th - 16th at Prince Edward Collegiate for a BITS guitar workshop series.

   The Churchkey Spring Revival of 5 May and the Party for Peck on the 2nd of August once again raised significant funds for the BlTS program.

   The Gretsch Honeydipper guitar raffle @ 2104 Frankford Island Blues Festival was a success. The winning ticket was drawn off the Main Stage on Saturday night. Congratulations to the winner Helen Archer. All proceeds went directly to the BITS program.

  In the month of November 2013, Rick Fines was at the North Hastings High School in Bancroft with a busy schedule.   In the four Tuesdays of November, Rick led 4 sessions on basic blues guitar with the AMG301 Guitar Class, 3 sessions on basic songwriting techniques with grade 10 and 11 english classes, 2 sessions on History of the Blues for Senior Instrumental Music Class and grade 10 and 11 english classes, 3 sessions on basic improvisation over a 12 bar blues progression, 1 session on comparing rural and urban music in the American South in the 1930s to correlate to an English class unit on Inherit the Wind and 1 small group guitar session on basic songwriting for guitarists.

  Both the English and Music classes benefited greatly from Rick’s work. During a lunch hour show, Rick recounted a story wherein during his first BITS workshop in Bancroft years ago, he met an aspiring drummer who expressed interest in the Blues. Now many years later, Rick was at a performance of an up-and-coming band when the very same drummer came over and thanked him for his inspiration.

  The four workshops were sponsored in part by the Blue Skies in the Community program of the Blue Skies Festival in Perth. 

 In March and April 2013, Rick Fines completed two week long residencies focusing on song-writing at Percy Centennial Public School in Warkworth and St Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in Campbellford. The students received an overview of the origins of blues and its place in the historical context and social conditions of the time, plus an understanding of the development of blues into the different branches of the music of today.   They were then encouraged to express themselves in the writing of
lyrics for a song or experimenting with creating their own melody.
  The songs resulting from these efforts were recorded and presented to
an enthusiastic assembly of students at the conclusion of the program.

    Coordinator Jane Archer attended the assembly at Percy and spoke to several of the parents, teachers and students. They unanimously expressed their pleasure that such an outstanding tool of education had been made available to them. Trent Hills is well known for the quality of its many fine musicians of all ages, from the Musicfest Canada Gold medal-winning juggernaut that is the Campbellford District High School jazz program under the guidance of teachers Dave and Michelle Noble, to the local artists who play every week in various venues throughout Trent Hills.    Strengthening music knowledge and understanding at the elementary school level should provide a tremendous benefit down the road for the music lovers of Trent Hills and beyond, as well as a lifetime of pleasure for both players and listeners.

"It's been a wonderful opportunity for me to conduct Blues In The Schools workshops for the Loyal Blues Fellowship. I was particularly thrilled that I was assigned to two different schools for a week-long residency.
   I am grateful to be able to conduct a full song-writing program with four classes in each school, while teaching the significant influence of Blues music on North American popular music. It is important that organizations like this work with the under-served areas like Trent Hills." - Rick Fines

   Thanks to the joint fund-raising efforts of Party for Peck and the Church-key Brewing Company over the last couple of years, and for the matching funds provided by the participating schools, Trent Hills elementary schools now proudly boast a flourishing BITS program.

On April 26th, 2013, Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley performed their Underground Railroad show (Sugar and Gold) for the entire school at Tweed Hungerford Senior Public in Tweed. The show is a multimedia presentation with students getting involved at one point.
To date, Diana and Chris have performed this show to 70,000 students. That evening, there was a CD release party for Diana and Chris’s new album, Scrap Metal Blues. The party was well attended and a huge success.

In November, 2011, our Blues in the Schools Program enlisted the services of Rick Cooke, Fellowship member and leader of the Blues band, Tore Down. Together with Blues in the Schools Director, Ed Fowler, they taught four music classes the art of ‘Blues-Harmonica’. In all, this session had 94 music students who were given their very own harp and Rick led them through a Blues boogie in ‘G’ accompanied by Ed Fowler on guitar.

The participating music classes of Percy Centennial School in Warkworth, and Kent Public School in Campbellford both greatly enjoyed the experience. These workshops were made possible by the kind donation from the Archer Family, with monies raised from “Party-for-Peck”, a weekend musical event in August, held in loving memory of their son, Jesse “Peck” Archer.

Illa Ila Vann and Peggy Voigt performed a vocal workshop at St. Theresa Catholic Secondary in May 2011.  Ila has been performing since the age of five when her mother brought her on tour with Mahalia Jackson. She played on Broadway in 1972 and is still touring professionally. Peggy Voigt is current president of the Loyal Blues Fellowship and plays /sings locally. The vocal class of St. Theresa was captivated by Ila's depth of experience and very appreciative for the chance to interact with such a talented performer.

Rett Wills and Ed Fowler presented blues guitar workshops at Prince Edward Collegiate and St. Gregory’s Catholic Secondary in Picton, Centre Hastings Secondary in Madoc, Havelock-Belmont in Havelock, Quinte Mohawk in Tyendindaga in the spring of 2010 and Trenton High in April of 2011.  The workshop engaged the students in a dialogue on the  growth of the Blues genre starting from the Delta and Country blues leading up to the Chicago sound.

Chris Whitley and Diana Braithwaite performed their Sugar and Gold Underground Railroad show at Harmony Public, Harry J Clarke Public, Centennial Secondary and Frankford Public in the fall of 2009.  Sugar and Gold is a conversation with song that imparts the history of a people and illuminates the link between past and present using acoustic instruments, story-songs, and call and response.  The journey through Diana's personal family history via Canada's Underground Railway is especially poignant and moving to all of us.

In 2008 Harrison Kennedy was the featured artist. The BITS programs are tailored to specific age groups, ranging from one-hour sessions for junior elementary classes to week-long "artist in residence" for senior students. The Loyal Blues Fellowship has been successful in providing "Blues in the School" to primary and secondary schools in both the public and separate school boards in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties.

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