Among my earliest memories of Northern Saskatchewan where I was born, are mornings seated beside an old Rogers Majestic radio with ears glued to a folk singer named Alan Mills and his program (Folksongs for YoungFolk). As my attention span grew longer, I would not miss other CBC offerings like "Old Rawhide",and "The Happy Gang". I was 4 years old then and it wasn't long before schooldays forced me to vacate my perch until I could get back afterschool and on Saturdays. There were 13 children in my family and we all had weekend chores. My main task was polishing the linoleum floor in the living room and it was my opportunity to listen to Milton Cross and opera from "The Met".
The men from the Prince Albert Kinsmen Club used to come and pick me up at school and take me to the PO Cafe for their monthly lunch, where I would sing for them. This, and from our stairwell landing, entertaining my family and anyone else who cared to listen, as well as competing in the Kiwanis Music Festival, were the first stirrings of a lifelong relationship with music.
Saskatchewan was good for me. I grew up, nourished by a lively if not chaotic family, and music teachers who did their very best to train my voice. In 1964, while working at the Bank of Nova Scotia,in Saskatoon, I made the acquaintance of a young man from Rosthern, Boyce Neufeld who worked at a different branch of the same bank. A friend had mentioned that Boyce loved to sing and to play guitar and that we might do well together. And so the next time Boyce came to our branch, I introduced myself and we decided to get together to work on some songs. We spent a few months learning harmonys and performed at family functions.
I liked to attend the Sunday evening Newman Club at St.Thomas More College. It was there that I met Vic Zelinski who performed a few folksongs with his friend Alfred Kuros. I introduced myself and asked if they might like to combine with Boyce and myself to work on some music. This was the beginning of "The Troubadors" a musical group that was to make a name in folk music circles throughout the province. Eventually Alfred Kuros was transfered to a bank in BC, and Boyce, Vic, and I performed where they let us, and called ourselves "The Troubadors Three".
In 1965, the province of Saskatchewan was to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee. Part of the celebration was a province-wide competition for musicians called "Gala Night Under the Stars". Regional winners would be showcases in two "Gala" evenings to be held at both the Saskatoon and Regina Exhibition Grandstands, and would headline Lorne Greene of "Bonanza" fame. The Troubadors Three placed first in the Saskatoon Competition, performing live on CFQC-TV in musical shows leading up to the big Gala nights.
When the results were tabulated,the Troubadors Three had finished as runners-up to a Native Canadian, Ivan McNab, whose Marty Robbins style renderings had captured the hearts of the judges and the audiences as well. Our two original songs "Railrider" and "This Hard Ground" done in a unique blend of three voices and two Martin Guitars, produced a sound reminiscent of "The Limlighters", garnered our group second prize which was a trip to Hawaii(for two). We decided to let Vic and his new bride have the trip for a honeymoon, in exchange for some cash for Boyce and for me.
The ensuing months were filled with performances in coffee houses and concerts as we took advantage of the publicity generated by "Gala Night". We participated in recording an LP produced by John Lumby of Saskatoon entitled "Gala Night Revue" which featured music by the three winners and hosted by Jeff "Smokey" Howard of CFQC TV, himself a performer on Gala Night. We toured the province, entertaining many thousands of people, gaining experience that for me, fueled the desire to let music be my life's work.
In the meantime, we all married, had kids and worked at 'day jobs", doing our music where and when we could. In the summer of "66" after playing the coffee houses, bars and hotels in Portage La Prairie and Winnipeg, Manitoba, we decided to risk it all and headed for Toronto, there to sign a performance contract with Sid Dolgay( "The Travellers") of Universal Performing Artists. We were to pursue our career, he would try to get us booking and recording opportunities, and we were to pay him 10% of eveything we earned. We headed back to Saskatchewan with stars in our eyes and nothing became of the arrangement. I worked as a copywriter at CFQC-TV, Vic was teaching School and Boyce went back to working in the bank. We got together on weekends and sang where we could.
Eventually, In early "67" I moved my family to Red Deer, Alberta to a new job writing copy for Radio Station CKRD. After six months in Red Deer, I transfered to CHCT-TV in Calgary. Due to the health of my second child, the doctors thought it best that he have a warm climate, so we emigrated to Hawaii and lived there until our son recovered. I found an old guitar in a pawnshop in Honolulu and learned enough to accompany myself. I sang at a few bars in Honolulu, entertaining the troops in Hawaii for R&R from Vietnam.
We returned to Calgary in 1969, where I worked as copywriter, then, Creative Editor, then as Sales Representative for CFAC Radio, the Country Music station. By this time, both Vic and Boyce had moved to Calgary and we formed a group called "The Medium". We combined our vocal trio with Jake Salomons, a classical guitar virtuoso and with John Baswick, a Deejay at CFAC Radio working drums, "The Medium" entertained at clubs, wakes and weddings in the Calgary area.
It was in 1978, while working at CFAC Radio, that I met Larry, Lloyd and Ray, "The Mercey Brothers" who were doing interviews at the Radio Station. They listened to me sing and sold me on the idea of recording at their new Studio in Elmira, Ontario. In the fall of '78, I travelled east and with backup help from the Mercey Brothers, Peewee Charles, Lenny Blum and the Laurie Bower Singers, put together my first "Single" recording of a Terry Carisse tune "Small Fry Lullaby", with Jonh Denver's "My Sweet Lady" on the "B" side. The Cheesbourough Pond Company was experimenting with recording labels and was happy to have my offering as part of their experiment, and so "Small Fry" was released in the fall of 1978 and enjoyed some good airplay, rising to Number 2 on the charts at CFCW Red Deer.
During the '70s, I performed in the cocktail circuit in Calgary as a single, cycling between the Highlander, Stampeder and Carriage House Motor Hotels while continuing to work at CFAC Radio. This pattern continued until 1977 when pressures of family life dictated my leaving the "bar" scene and devoting time to my wife and children. I remained in Calgary until the Spring of 1981 and relocated to Vernon, B.C. to work at CJIB Radio as Sales Rep and later as GSM. During these years, I developed an interest in songwriting, performed at public functions and volunteered as a musical therapist at several Nursing Homes in Vernon. During the past few years I have performed at the Restoration Music Festival, at Chinwags and at Portillo's coffee houses in Vernon. My repertoire includes the best of all Classic-Folk, which come from the minds and hearts of John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot, Simon & Garfunkel,Neil Diamond, Nana Mouskouri, and some of the new sounds from Eastern Canada.
I have begun to write again and am recording at Image Audio Studios in Vernon. I have written a dozen new songs in the past three years and feel that it's time to expose my work to the market. I earn my living as an Instructor in Adult Education, teaching people about computers. I live in Vernon with my wife,Molly, my daughter Danielle and our new little Sarah. My new CD titled "Voices In the Kalamalka" is in progress and will be available online on this website shortlyIt features all of the tracks on this site as well as some of my new songs. I'm looking forward to the feedback from this exposure and will continue to sing, teach and write as long as this old body sustains me.
5-2201 53rd Avenue
Vernon, B.C. Canada V1T 9N8
Here is how you can get in touch with me.
Back to Home Page