The house band Bruno Bourgeois, Chester Delaney, Claude Bourgeois, and Tommy Poirier entertaining the crowd during Chester’s 70th Birthday Bash at the Doryman.
March 23, 2022
-by Rosie Aucoin-Grace
Our county is rich with multi-talented musicians that stem from all walks of life. Many are born with a unique gift and pass on their talents from generation to generation. Last week, there was a special bash at the Doryman Pub & Grill in Chéticamp as they celebrated Chester Delaney’s 70th birthday.
The son of the late Joseph (à Paulite à Siméon) Delaney and the late Bella (à Pat à Élie) Gaudet, Chester grew up in Saint-Joseph-du-Moine, in a house known as la maison du monde. There was much love, joy, laughter, lots of song, music, and dance. They were brought up knowing the importance of celebrating traditions, old customs.
Joe was a fiddle player until the loss of several fingers on his left hand during an accident. Although Joe’s fiddle days were over, he made sure to pass on his talent to his son, Chester. When Joe and Chester were janitors at the Saint-Joseph-du-Moine School, there were many occasions on which Chester played the fiddle for the students and participated in countless concerts and fundraisers. After Joe’s retirement, to the delight of many visitors, Chester played at Joe’s Scarecrows. He always played the fiddle during La Mi-Carême at his father’s house and later on, for years at his sister Ethel Hache’s residence.”
Today, Chester is well known especially in the Francophone community as a great Acadian fiddler. He has a unique style of playing, accompanying many entertainers especially those who perform old traditional material. He also performs while playing the fiddle which is always a favourite at many gatherings and public performances.
For decades, Chester played in countless parties with many other musicians. In the late 1970s, Chester Delaney, the late Gerard Romard and the late Albert Poirier were a common close-knit musical trio. They seemed to blend well and loved playing together. Some of the venues they performed: La promenade du Quai Mathieu, Radio CKJM live broadcasts, CHNE programs, many benefit dances, festivals, la campe à Raymond, Le Centre Acadien, the K.O.C., the Louisbourg Playhouse, Ingonish, Le Gros Tyme on the Halifax Waterfront, the Magdalen Islands and played as the main house band for weekly Talent Night at the Doryman.
Yes for years, where you saw Gerard perform, Chester was right there along with him. After Gerard’s passing, although it was difficult to lose such a good friend, Chester continued to play with other performers and has become quite popular. He was very happy when Talent Night resumed at the Doryman featuring Claude Bourgeois and friends. During the past few years, with COVID-19 restrictions, there has been fewer public performances but thanks to modern technology, we have seen many of these musicians play virtually.
One performance that many will not soon forget was during the 125th Gala at Église Saint-Pierre in 2018, when Chester Delaney and Robert Deveaux of Saint-Joseph du Moine performed Acadian songs while playing the fiddle. An old Acadian way of entertaining handed down from generation to generation. There was no doubt of how much the audience appreciated these entertainers by the hollers and thunderous applause which resonated throughout the church.
A friend to all, Chester is always ready and willing to play the fiddle whether it be for a fundraiser, party, and so forth. He is also quite the storyteller and loves to tell jokes. It is little wonder that so many wanted to honour him with a 70th birthday celebration.
According to Marc Neary, owner of the Doryman Pub & Grill, “Chester’s birthday was actually on February 8th and we had this event planned for a while now. We wanted to have this birthday bash during the week he reached this special milestone, but with the strict COVID-19 restrictions which included not more than one performer on stage at a time, it was impossible. Instead, Chester and Claude Bourgeois performed for us virtually on social media. There was also a broadcast dedicated to Chester on Radio CKJM. Many people from near and far were tuned in for both these programs.” He continued, “We postponed the birthday bash until March 12th and due to a suête predicting 140 km/hr plus gusts, we postponed once again to March 13th. As it turned out, the weather once again was not in our favour with whiteout conditions, but we took the attitude that the show must go on. Of course, we did not have a full house that we had hoped for but those who participated were a great crowd. A good time was had by all.”
Neary added, “The house band consisted of Claude Bourgeois on guitar and vocals, Chester Delaney on the fiddle, Tommy Poirier on lead guitar and vocals, along with Bruno Bourgeois on bass and vocals. Some talent from the crowd also participated such as Teddy Aucoin, Carl Abraham, and Jeanne Bourgeois. To the delight of the audience, Chester even sang a few songs on this special occasion.”
“Of course, at one point during the bash, everyone sang Happy Birthday to Chester and he was presented with cupcakes with candles. These delectable treats were shared with the crowd. I want to mention how much I appreciate the assistance of Jeanne Bourgeois while organizing this party. She did all the decorating along with the help of the Doryman staff, arranged for the birthday cupcakes, and made sure everything ran smoothly,” says Neary.
“There were lots of family members and many friends who came to the celebration despite the blistery weather conditions,” says Neary. He added, “Sadly, many could not make it, however, we live steamed part of the show on the Doryman’s Facebook page and some of Chester’s family living away, many in Massachusetts were able to tune in. By their comments, we know they really loved that.”
As we say in our Acadian region, Chester, ça fait longtemps qui roule (he has been around for quite some time) and we are quite fortunate to have this very talented fiddler/singer who keeps part of our culture alive and thriving. We can only hope that many will learn from his material and keep the tradition going for generations to come. Happy belated 70th birthday Chester and keep on playing those amazing tunes and a favourite comical song Je m’en vais au marché originally recorded by La Bolduc.
Share this article
Join the conversation