Traditional country music is coming to Lloydminster, as the Canadian Country Music Legends tour hits the Vic Juba Community Theatre on Jan. 23.
The concert is presented by the Association for Canadian Country Music Legends (ACCML), an organization dedicating to preserving and promoting traditional country music.
The group’s president and founder George Myren says that although their audiences typically grew up listening to classic country music, the Legends are reaching a younger demographic.
“Theres a lot of young people now starting to take notice of the older songs and that type of music because it was clean,” Myren said. “It was steel guitar, fiddle, lead guitars, whereas the new music is very heavily orchestrated.”
The lineup includes many celebrated country music performers, including 2002 Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Hall of Fame inductee Bev Munro, 2010 CCMA Hall of Fame inductees Joyce Smith and Eddie Eastman, and two-time Grand North American Fiddle Champion Alfie Myhre. Myren, himself a 2007 National Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame inductee and a three-time Calgary Stampede champion, will also perform with his group, Rodeo Wind.
Also on the bill is country singer Randy Hollar, who will be honouring Canadian country music great Wilf Carter, who passed away in 1996 at the age of 91.
“We always do a tribute to Wilf Carter and we have a guy who sounds so much like Wilf Carter you’d think it was him still alive,” Myren said.
But despite the impressive roll call, the Canadian Country Music Legends tour was not originally intended to be an ongoing endeavour.
“We started this thing as a millennium project in 2000 and we thought it was a one-shot deal, and then we tried it the following (year) and it was so successful that were still going. This is our 16th year now,” Myren said. “I know we’ve turned a lot of younger people to start listening to the older classic tunes. In fact, a lot of radio stations now have classic country.”
Myren says the Legends band is one of the only groups actively keeping classic country music alive.
“We’re one of the very few bands, probably the only one in Western Canada, that is really doing that so we’re kind of unique in a way. There are small groups, but they don’t go onto the road as much as we do,” he said. “When Country Music Week comes to Edmonton, we always put a traditional show on and its very successful.”
Myren says the Legends band will play anywhere someone will hire them, but they mostly tour in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
“It’s a very entertaining show and you get to see Canadian country music people in a package, not one artist. You see 10 of us total on that stage at the finale,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of people come to our shows and say, ‘Hey I just got back from Nashville and you guys are way better than the Grand Ole Opry.’ That makes us feel pretty proud about what we’re trying to promote.”