Skip to content

She's keeping the family's music alive ... and looking for a little help

The Andrews Orchestra was a mainstay at Orillia's Rose Room; Band members' great-granddaughter seeking help to restore fabled double bass
2018-11-11 Alex Andrews
Alex Andrews is hoping for help from the community to raise funds to restore her great grandfather’s bass, which he played as part of the Andrews’ Orchestra in the 1920s. She is pictured here playing World War One-themed songs at the Orillia Public Library Saturday as part of special celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Mehreen Shahid/OrilliaMatters

Music could have been a binding element that gave hope to soldiers in the First World War.

That’s what Alex Andrews imagined as she played special First World War-themed songs at the Orillia Public Library as part of the celebration of 100 years since the end to the first global conflict

“It makes me think of the soldiers whistling all these songs together, which is sad, but also nice,” she said. “I've been playing Rule Britannia, Carry on, Land of Glad To-morrows, and others."

By playing at the library, Andrews said she was able to introduce to people the existence of the Andrews’ Orchestra, her grandparents’ swing band from the early 1920s.

“My great grandfather, Charlie, played the double bass and then I became the custodian of the bass,” said Andrews.

Now she’s trying to fix the instrument. For that, she has been crowdsourcing funds through a project called Andrews’ Bass Project.

“It (needs) $6,000 in repairs,” she said, adding she’s already collected $3,085, and hopes to soon have enough money to make the instrument playable again.

Andrews’ Orchestra, she said, played through the wars.

“The dance band started in the late 1920s and then they played through the Second World War at the Rose Room on Memorial Avenue,” said Andrews. “They would have dances on Wednesdays and Saturday nights.”

As she played at the library Saturday, she said a few people came up to her and told her they remembered hearing of the band and reminisced about how their parents attended the dances at the Rose Room.

“It's all about celebrating the music,” said Andrews. “I think music bonds people. It really creates community.”

She said she remembered as a child having seen the instrument, but she never had a chance to play it.

“It's a beautiful instrument,” said Andrews. “Even as a kid I could see how beautiful it would be to have it played again.”

Those willing to contribute to the fundraising can find out more by visiting the Andrews Bass Project Facebook page. People can also email her at andrewsbassproject@outlook.com to find out how they can help restore the instrument.

“I'm really looking forward to having the bass played so everyone can enjoy the instrument that we're building back together,” she said. “I want to be able to hear the instrument that my great grandfather played on in Orillia.”