Be There and Be Square


WardnerPoster-dance-For most of us it would be before our time. By that I mean a time when music had a social context.  And I don’t mean a time at the local disco, club or pub. Although those situations, for most of us,   also seem to be fading into the past. There was a time when music was more entwined with our daily lives. A time for friends, family and straight forward socializing. A time when  a night out at a dance or picnic meant a trip to the local school house or community centre and, heaven forbid, LIVE MUSIC. It was a time for friends, family and heaven forbid (again) a night of fun unadulterated by the commercial motives of image and spectacle.  Although I have only had a passing acquaintance with the notion of traditional dancing I do have a hankering for the experience. Well, this coming Saturday evening that hankering is about to become reality. A group of well known local acoustic musicians and friends have organized a  Square Dance. The event is a benefit to help raise money to support 14 year old Jenna Homeniuk  in Calgary’s Childrens Hospital. Jenna is receiving treatment for Leukemia. So there’s the motivation of a good cause but more than that there is the chance to re-establish something that has been long lost. The chance to give music it’s true value as a social cement in our daily life. And, you never know, it maybe just so much fun that we will want to do it again.

So, DARE TO BE SQUARE and come out to the Square Dance at Wardner Hall on Saturday March 8, 2014. There will be fiddlers, mandolins, banjos, guitars, dancers, callers, kids, families and fun. And,  to paraphrase and old saying, BE THERE AND BE SQUARE.


WINTERSONG at The Driftwood Concert House


The question is often asked. Why do they do it? In most instances it is not for fame, fortune and/or fringe benefits. The answer is very simple. Painters paint, writers write, musicians compose and perform for no other reason than they just have to. It is just the nature of the artistic beast. They are not complete until they follow their compulsions. This somewhat self indulgent approach is one that we should  Wagon Wheelsbe thankful for, particularly when, in this instance, there is such a positive outcome. Four singer / songwriters of The Kootenay Singer-Song Writers Circle got together to raise funds for the Red Cross Disaster Relief  Fund by performing a concert of their original music at the Driftwood Concert house in Kimberley. The musicians included  (the nice looking) Heather Gemmell, (the youthful) Clayton Parsons, (the wisdom of the ages) James Neve,  and (the mature) Darin Welch. The venue was, of course, the Driftwood Concert House  operated by Jen and Darin Welch on this their first year anniversary of presenting sustainable music programs for both musicians and patrons. The format of the evening was basically a traditional singing circle with each musician performing a piece before passing the “torch” onto the next performer. Yours truly, Rod Wilson, was the MC. Darin Welch kicked off the night with Simple City, followed by James Neve’s Blue Girl, Clayton Parson’s Everybody Knows my Name  and Heather Gemmell’s global warming song. Through out the evening, five times around the circle, with a grand finale group rendition of Wagon Wheels, the only non-original song of the evening. The list of original songs performed included Pretty Water, Wilderness, The Last Wild Wolves (by Darin Welch); Please Take the Wheel, Candle by the Window, Come on Back to My Love, Passing Through Your Heart (by James Neve); Midnight Moon, Going on Down, September Sunday, Stay (by Clayton Parsons); and the outstanding instrumental The Tap Song (by Heather Gemmell). It was a night of memorable music in a perfectly intimate venue with superb light and sound and a very receptive and respectful audience. I know Darin likes to bring into town great touring performers for this venue but without a doubt this particular evening proved that local performers are more than a match for the imports. Well done guys – you raised over $400 for the Phillipines and with matching government funding that puts us well on the road to $1,000.

 Heather Gemmell        James Neve  Darin Welch         Clayton Parsons  Heather Gemmell   James Neve   Heather Gemmell   Darin Welch   Clayton Parsons   James Neve Heather Gemmell  Silas   James Neve     Heather Gemmell  James Neve  Clayton Parsons  Heather Gemmell   Heather Gemmell  Darin Welch   020. Condenser mic  James Neve   Heather Gemmell  Silas  Heather Gemmell   Darin Welch   Heather Gemmell  Clayton Parsons   James Neve  Heather Gemmell  James Neve  Audience     Clayton Parsons   Silas and Jen


Hearts That Care Concert

“Hearts That Care” – The Cranbrook : Kimberley Hospice Society Benefit Concert featuring Lowry Olafson, at Centre 64, September 14, 2013, 8pm

Lowry Olafson

Lowry OlafsonHearts That Care

Hands that serve, hearts that care / When you need us, we are there / With hugs for  free, eyes that see / We’ll walk with you a while / With hearts that care

You can share your story / We’ll hear the words you say / Be a companion on your journey / Be a friend along the way


When you lose someone you love / And feel so all alone / When you need some understanding / Our hands are here to hold

Lowry Olafson is a Canadian singer/ song writer of Icelandic extraction who resides in Violin GuitarGibson’s Landing  on the Sunshine Coast and has a passion for sailing.  In his own words  he has an intricate finger style of guitar playing that provides  compelling backdrops to his original songs, stories and humorous anecdotes. In addition his lively violin instrumentals “invite listeners of all ages into a world that celebrates the poetry of life.” The concert, and the above theme song,  is the outcome of a Theme Workshop facilitated by Lowry back in June of this year.  Lowry shared his songs and stories with a sold out concert audience who obviously enjoyed the experience. There were songs about home renovations – Solid Ground (“this house was built on a firm foundation”), songs about past political figures (J.S. Woodsworth – founder of the CCF) – Keeps Me Safe and Sound;  forced military conscription in the American Civil War – Annabelle; the immigrant experience – Pier 21 (I will have to steal that one); kids songs – My Dog Ate My Homework, Funky Chicken, She Wears Her Hair to Hide Her Face, Unspoken Beauty; humorous songs –  I`m Losing What`s Left of My Mind; a song for parents – Ship of Dreams;  In other words his songs reflected the magnificent spectrum of the human condition. The only non-original piece in the evening was a compelling emotional rendition of the Rita MacNeil`s classic from the mines of Nova Scotia – Working Man. The violin  accompaniment on this piece, with his solid sweet tone, revealed how accomplished he is on that instrument. This was a fine evening of mellow and enjoyable entertainment and the organizers should be thrilled with the turnout and the audience response. Here are some images from the evening:

Lowry Olafson        Lowry Olafson Lowry's boots          Guitar   Lowry Olafson   Don Davidson   Lowry Olafson Lowry Olafson            Lowry Olafson


Contact information

Phone: 250-417-2019

Toll Free: 1-855-417-2019


Web Site:


Canadian Country Christmas

 With the compliments of Mr Sean Hogan, Buck Zroback of  Cranbrook Dodge and Margie Coleman of the Byng Roadhouse Bar it was indeed a great Christmas for  Country Music fans.The familiar opening lines, “it was a dark and stormy night” were almost true. There was no storm of course but it was a dark, dark, very dark night. An electrical breaker had kicked out at Fort Steele and left most of the area in darkness. It was incredibly hard to spot the turn off into Fort Steele. So much so that several performers were reduced to using their GPS devices to find the entrance road. The parking lot was equally as dark and it was only the lights of strategically  parked cars that  enable patrons to find their way to the Wild Horse Theatre. As the poster said this was the 9th annual Country Christmas show at the Fort Steele Wild Horse Theatre. Sean Hogan, recently recovered from Oral Pharyngeal cancer, invited some of Alberta’s, and Canada’s, finest singer / song writers to join him on stage for the show. Performers included Duane Steele, Bobby Wills (the only cowboy hat on stage), Jake Mathews and Samantha King. In the back ground doing an absolutely monumental job as the back up band was Denis Dufresne (Du-nee Doo-frain) on fiddle and mandolin and Karac Hendricks (Care-ac Hen-dricks) on electric and acoustic guitars. The format of the show was pretty straight forward with each performer taking to the stage for the first half of the show to reprise some of their well known and not so well known songs. After brief a introduction Jake Mathews kicked off the show with “I’m Gone”, “Red Tail Lights andIf I had it My Way“. Red Lights was featured in a video originally recorded near Kimberley and it included that fine piece of country poetry ” nothing says goodbye like red tail lights”. Bobby Wills, complete with black cowboy hat and his favorite Gibson guitar kicked off his selection with the song, “Show Some Respect”, that climbed to #8 on the charts.  Bobby got his start in country music at an open mic session in, of all places, Byron Bay, Australia. Samantha King has been on previous Country Christmas shows and she performed her “Not Enough to Get Me”, “The Black Bear” and a possibly slanderous piece of poetry in song, “The All Overs”, dedicated to her ex-husband. Duane Steele is a long time co-writer with Sean Hogan and his stand out song was “Brave” . It featured some of his beautiful finger picking and the superb mandolin back up from Denis Dufresne. It was a real treat to hear some classy mandolin playing that did not rely on over worked Blue Grass “chops” and runs. Duane’s “Bottle It” was about saving the good times for when you can “pop the cork and drink it on down”. That’s a nice line. As was the poetry in  “A Waste of Good Whiskey” . This  is a song he co-wrote and performed with Sean Hogan. Sean Hogan rounded off the first half of the show with a set that included “Not Just Any Bull”. Only in Alberta could somebody have a pet bison ride around in vehicle and have it end up in a song. After a brief intermission every body was back on stage to do a selection of Christmas songs that included “It Came on a Midnight Clear”, “Have Your Self a Merry Christmas”, “Rock Around the Christmas Tree”, “Is That You Santa Claus?” (an old Louis Armstrong song) “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Look What Love Did”, and “O Holy Night”. That last mentioned song garnered huge applause for Samantha King. In the Christmas mix was some Garth Brooks and George Straight flavored songs and a Happy Birthday greeting for 84 year old “Gracie” in the audience. This was a night of, dare I say it?, of real country music. No “Star Spangled Nashville Sounds” or country music dressed up in rock and roll clothes here. It was a night of blue jeans, rolled up sleeves and  calloused hands – the way country music should be. Here are a few more images from the show


The benefits from the show went to the  Kootenay Child Development Centre (250-426-2542).


Sean HoganTHE BYNG IS BACK: SEAN HOGAN AND DUANE STEELE , Friday night, December 7, 2012, no earlier than 9pm. Over the years music has come and gone at the Byng Hotel but it appears that new management has initiated a new “live” music policy. Now, under the banner of The Byng Roadhouse Bar, things are back on track with bands performing on Friday and Saturday evenings and regular jam sessions every Saturday afternoon. Margie Coleman took over the lease of the bar in October and has been busy rehabilitating the room. The bandstand and dance floor have been restored to the bottom section of  room and suitable booths and furnishing have been added to the main social area. To date there are no kitchen services but that could change as circumstances permit. The country singer/song writers Sean Hogan and Duane Steele managed to hang around for a few days after their Christmas Concert at Fort Steele to perform at the Byng. It was an excellent opportunity to hear these two performers in an up close and personal environment. Here are some images from an evening of great “real” country music:

Duane Steele       Duane Steele      Duane Steele  Sean Hogan      Sean Hogan      Sean Hogan                                    Great hands - Duane Steele     Sean Hogan      Duane Steele     Sean Hogan     Sean Hogan      Duane Steele      Sean Hogan                                 Duane Steele




Grannies and Goats

THE GO GO GRANNIES BENEFIT CONCERT, Key City Theatre, September 30, 2pm. Featuring harpist Bronn Journey and vocalist Katherine Journey. The opening act – Good Ol’ Goats. Proceeds from the concert go to The Stephen Lewis Foundation.

First of all, the Go Go Grannies are  a local chapter of the Canada wide Grandmothers to Grandmothers organization which is part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The Go Go Grannies raise money to help grandmothers in Africa who are raising their grand children because their parents have died of HIV Aids. The Go Go Grannies have members from Wasa, Cranbrook and Kimberley and meet once a month at the College of the Rockies. For more information contact Muriel Steidl at .

The opening act, fresh from their CD release concert of September 15th 2012 at the Studio / Stage Door, were the Good Ol’ Goats. This is a well known local folk band that has had enormous success over the past few months. This group of young musicians include singer / song writer Nolan Ackert (banjo and guitar) Julian Bueckert (drums), Angus Leidtke (vocals, banjo and guitar) Angus MacDonald (vocals, Fiddle and mandolin) Theo Moore (vocals and bass) and Joelle Winkell (vocals, percussion, guitar, autoharp and mandolin). This normally exuberant band kick off the afternoon concert with the rather subdued opening of  “In the Garden” – a mellow tune that belied it’s somewhat macabre content. They moved on through a number of their, by now, well known songs from their recent CD release that included “Not the Same“, “Sailor’s Love Song“, “Kiss the Cactus”, and, of course, the title track, “The Train”


Now fresh from a muddy Welsh rugby field here is Bronn Journey with his violent electric blue harp.

The idea of a Harp and Voice concert normally brings up the vision of cherubs floating around the ceiling of a cathedral. Bronn does his best to dispel that image. Being a rugged, large muscular man he is as far from a cherub as you could image. As the Harp is a national instrument of Wales Bronn insists that the harp is the instrument of choice for Welsh rugby players and by extension should be the instrument of choice for Canadian hockey players. Be that as it may, Bronn went onto perform the music of angels on this spectacular harp. He opened with some “cutting edge Lawrence Welk music” (his words) with a rendition of the atmospheric “Ebb Tide”. Throughout the afternoon, with a great deal of panache, humour and virtuosity  he delivered a wide variety of tunes that included “Autumn Leaves”, “Chariots of fire”, Bach’s “Jesu Man’s Desire”, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy“, the Willie Nelson/Patsy Cline tune “Crazy”, some Welsh hymns  and many others. In between sets of tunes Bronn managed a short entertaining dissertation on the mechanics of the harp. From time to time he was joined by his wife Katherine for vocal selections that included songs from The Sound of Music (“My Favourite Things”). Their finale was Josh Groban’s “Climb Every Mountain”.