by Ted Rowe
Brian Johnston and Cy Brown were both big fans of country music when they met at the Guards clubrooms in St. John’s around 1950. They began playing together and did some performing as a duo before Brian left for Alberta and a job with a soft drink company. He moved back to St. John’s in 1954 to work as a sound technician first with VOCM, then CJON and finally CBN in 1957. Cy Brown was also at CBN, working in sales.
The two put together the Dypsydoodlers, a country band with Brian on guitar and vocals and Cy on steel guitar. They added Danny Behannon on lead guitar and Johnny Gamble on acoustic bass, both U.S. servicemen at Fort Pepperrall, and local favorite Don Randell on fiddle. When Gamble left for the U.S. he was replaced by St. John’s native Doug Mawer. The group developed a smooth, professional sound playing at Pepperrall and local nightclubs. Outfitted in striking blue Western garb, ordered in by Behannon, they had an eye-catching presence on stage.
Their popularity soared with a weekly show on CJON-TV. For their TV appearances Joe English replaced Brian on vocals since the CBC would not allow an employee to appear on a competing station. In 1959 they released an album on the Rodeo label, recorded in one session at CBN, and appeared on national CBC-TV on a show called “Talent Caravan.” They were also regulars on CBN’s popular Saturday Nite Jamboree and can be heard on recordings of the show from 1963 recently issued on CD. With several band members drifting away from St. John’s the group fizzled out in the 1960’s.