James Watsko

Jimmy's love of the violin stemmed from watching Don Messer on TV.  At age 17, it led him to study old time fiddling for 4 years.  For a time he played with the “Star Melody Aces” band.  He then proceeded to start his own band and along with his wife Verna on keyboard and vocals, formed “The Lumberjacks”.   Verna and Jimmy were instrumental in translating some English songs into Ukrainian lyrics such as “This Land is Your Land”. 

For the next 50 years, “Jimmy Watsko and the Lumberjacks” played for weddings, anniversaries, reunions, festivals and community dances all throughout Western Canada.  The “Lumberjacks” were also the back-up band for visiting groups such as “Mickey and Bunny” and “The Interlake Polka Kings”.  Jimmy also spent many hours planning and producing shows featuring Ukrainian dancers and musicians from Western Canada for local radio stations, the Ukrainian Village, Vegreville Festival and other venues. 

In 1963 and 1970, Jimmy won the Alberta CFCW Gold Fiddle Championships.  Throughout the years, The Lumberjacks generated 6 albums which have been remastered onto CD's.

Now at age 83, plagued with arthritis and other health issues, Jimmy only does guest appearances, usually with his son Johnny's band, Millenia.