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Dusty and Meleata Rose De'nyke
and the Sunset Riders
CKNX Barn Dance
CJOY Guelph, ON
CKNX Wingham, ON
CHEX Peterborough, ON (1953)

About The Artist

We first find mention of Dusty and Meleata Rose De'Nyke in early 1953. A column covering the Canadian country music scene tells us they were a new duo of 'folk artists' (a term used to describe country singers back then) on the scene.

They had traveled prior to that extensively in the United States and Canada, entertaining audiences at the familiar venues of radio shows, folk parks and folk shows. Again, notice back then the term of 'folk' being used to describe country music artists. Perhaps a sign of a musical genre trying to redefine itself.

In 1949, they were one of the headliners on the famed CKNX Barn Dance that originated out of Wingham, Ontario and was a bit of a traveling barn dance show. On that show, Dusty's daughter tells us he was known as the Log Cabin Balladeeer. He also worked at the station as part of the "Hayloft" band.

In the 1930s or maybe the 1940s, before World War II, Dusty was a part of the Tex Ritter Rodeo Show that played at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Around 1953, Dusty was operating a school of music out of the Paul Berg Record and Music Centre in Kitchener, Ontario. He taught folks on a variety of musical instruments including the guitar, bass, mandolin and banjo.

Later that year, we learn that Dusty was reorganizing their show and the makeup of the Sunset Riders in preparation for a summer tour. One of the new members was Tommy Parker, an old-time hillbilly music artist was on radio station CKNX in its earlier times when it was known as LOBP. Tommy was also part of the group known as Ukelele Bill and His Hillbillies. Gord Affeldt was rounding out the group, playing steel guitar. Meleata they wrote was playing bass and doing vocals as well.

Towards the end of the year, Dusty and the Sunset Riders moved from Kitchener to Peterborough, and according to Earl Heywood in his column then, the band felt it was a good place to be at the time. The group had a daily radio show over the local station, CHEX.

We learned from the daughter of Dusty and Meleata Rose De'Nyke a bit more about their later career. They continued their music career for the remainder of their lives. The family moved to Toronto in 1957 where they formed a jazz Trio known as the "Lee Rose Jazz Trio".

Dusty's son, Clive, wrote us recently to give us a bit more detail about the family and group during that time. He relates that Dusty was always just on the fringe of "being discovered". He was a very accomplished musician, self-taught, with a natural ability to pick up any strange instrument and within a short period of time, able to play a tune out of it. Clive was part of the his parents musical life in the 1960's when they became the "Lee Rose Trio." His stage name was "Tusse" and he was their drummer, and of course, was taught by his Dad.

This incarnation of the trio played the old standards of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's and, more current tunes of the 1960's; it was a dance band if you will. Clive tells us that "It was always said when we played large venues, 'we can't believe a small trio can put out such a big sound.' " Clive explains that the reaction they would get when first we got on stage was to put it kindly a "groan." In other words, folks saw a trio and didn't think the group could fill the venue with sound the way they did. He notes, "We always left 'em happy!"

Dusty and Meleata also made several appearances at the Ryman Auditorium, presumably as guests on one of the Opry shows, at the behest of Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper.

For quite a few years the trio was the "staff band" of "The Oshawa Golf & Country Club in Oshawa, Ontario as well as at the Port Hope Golf & Country Club in Port Hope, Ontario. This was during the mid to late 1960's and into the early 1970's. They played many of the well known, coveted venues in Toronto. One venue was the "300 Tavern", where they were a headline act for many years on College Street. And as Clive tells us, the Toronto Star noted it was "... interesting (act)... for an underage teen-age drummer with a dead-pan face."

Often, during breaks, Dusty would go and "sit in" with other bands in nearby clubs. The "Silver Dollar" on the corner of College and Spadina Streets and the "El M'combo" on Yonge Street were just a couple of those venues.

In 1971 the couple moved back to their hometown of Picton, Ontario and opened a music store together, called the A&M Music Center. We would guess that the A stood for Dusty's real name, Arthur, and the M for his wife, Meleata. Dusty and Meleata also kept up with their trio and played weekends at golf clubs around the Southern Ontario Region. At that store, Dusty gave lessons to many students on 16 different musical instruments. Unfortunately, three months after opening their store, Dusty passed away.

Meleata continued operating the store for another year then made the decision to sell it. She then went to work as an Assistant Manager at one of the Inns in Picton.

Meleata never sang or played music again after the death of her husband Dusty.

The couple did some songwriting together, including some hymns, which were recorded by Don Messer and His Islanders from the Maritimes.

However, no recordings of Dusty and Meleata Rose De'Nyke and the Sunset Riders survived to enable future generations to hear their sounds.

Dusty's daughter tells us a bit about the family tree as we had asked about Meleata's name. Her mother's name was Meleata, which is Spanish as her anscetors were Irish and Spanish. Her father was a United Empire Loyalist related to the De'Nyke's of New York. The family moved up to Canada in 1776.

Sources & Credits

  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its appreciation to Gail De'Nyke, daughter of Dusty and Meleata Rose De'Nyke for providing us with details about her parents later musical career.
  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to also express its apprecation to the Clive, son of Dusty and Meleata Rose De'Nyke for providing us with details about his parents and experiences with the group.
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 23; April 1953; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 26; October 1953; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 27; December 1953; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT

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