Huron Waves Music Festival is thrilled to present its first live Festival events this June, with varied programming that’s sure to captivate music lovers all month long. The Festival’s first offerings couldn’t be more different: a concert saluting Canadian Country Music legends, and a unique environmental experience called Sunrise Sound Walks.
Stompin’ Tom Connor’s tremendous backup band Whiskey Jack appears at Wingham Town Hall Theatre on Sunday, June 12 at 3pm, presenting their brand-new show, a Salute to Canadian Country Music Legends. Everyone is invited to sit back and reminisce through the songs and stories of the good times shared among friends: Tommy Hunter, Gordie Tapp, Gordon Lightfoot, Hank Snow, Lucille Starr, Willie P. Bennett, and more.
This year, Whiskey Jack celebrates 45 years as a musical force in the Canadian country music community. During the pandemic, it was only natural that they should sit around the dinner table talking about the “old days” – exploring their roots.
“If there’s one thing Covid gave us, it’s time to reminisce,” says producer, raconteur, and band leader Duncan Fremlin. “It’s also only fitting that this inaugural show be presented in the town many consider to be the home of Canadian country music – Wingham, Ontario. The local CKNX barn dance during its 60-year run, spawned a generation of performers who almost single handedly created the soundtrack for the nation – Tommy Hunter for the singers and Al Cherney for the fiddlers. They grabbed the heart of the nation and never let go.”
Members of the band feel they owe a debt of gratitude to those who paved the road and made it possible for each to enjoy a career in music. It began with Wilf Carter, the father of Canadian country music, who began his professional career in 1920, when there were no fancy PA systems, no promoters handing out gigs, no contracts offering some assurance that payment would be made when the gig was over, no proprietary rights to the songs that he wrote, no record companies to finance and distribute his 78’s, no TV, few if any professional musicians to accompany him on stage, perhaps only one radio station, and few if any music stores. Plus the highways were terrible! Wilf’s most popular song and the one most associated with the Carter legend, is the song parents of Whiskey Jack members would listen to when they tuned into the CBC on a Saturday night. Blue Canadian Rockies will be sung by another renowned Canadian songwriter, multiple Juno Award nominee, Douglas John Cameron, Whiskey Jack’s guitarist who won nominations for his 1983 hit, Mona With The Children and his 1996 TV hit, Ants in Your Pants. The link between Wilf and Stompin’ Tom Connors is a straight line. According to Tom, “Wilf was my inspiration. That’s all there is to it.” Fremlin will dip into his 25-year history with Tom and sing Bud The Spud. He might even share a story or two from his best-selling book, “My Good Times With Stompin’ Tom”.
Whiskey Jack has invited even more Canadian country music royalty to join them as they celebrate the superstars that inspired them. Marie Bottrell has her own supply of “road stories” having been a pioneer, one of the first, and most definitely the youngest woman to lead her own band on endless tours of North American beer halls and theatres. Her hard work and exceptional talent earned her 8 Juno nominations. Besides her own hit, The Star, Marie will sing what has become a Canadian National Anthem, Snowbird.
Brian and Susie Good are the gold standard in their field. Country duets? You bet! One of the songs they will sing was made famous by their good friends, Ian and Sylvia. Four Strong Winds is another anthem having been voted Best Canadian Song in 2008. Brian of course is one of The Good Brothers. What you might not know is that Susie learned her chops from another Country Music Royal Family. Her dad Rex Yetman is the founding member of Canada’s very first bluegrass band, The Yorktown Boys. The supporting cast will be featured throughout the show. Stompin’ Tom’s long time fiddler from PEI, Billy MacInnis, will show us why Don Messer, Al Cherney and more were so important to our version of country music. Not to be outdone, bass player Tim Hadley is another Juno nominee (The Grievous Angels).
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Sunday, June 12 at 3pm,
Wingham Town Hall Theatre
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photo l-r: Billy MacInnis, Douglas John Cameron, Duncan Fremlin and Tim Hadley