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Another fresh lineup in concert’s seventh year

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

Local musicians take the stage at The Centre for Kickin’ Country 7, April 13

By Chris Marchand

When you’re the prime mover behind a local music tradition, the trick is to learn what to change and what to leave alone.

This year’s Kickin’ Country concert will take place Saturday, April 13 at The Centre.

Over the past seven years, Carl Bleich says he has a worked out a formula for his annual fundraising concerts for the Dryden High School Music Association that keeps tickets selling year after year.

A large part of it is forming a fresh lineup, never lingering too long or too frequently on one aspect of the local music scene. Bleich spends the year scouting talent at local open mic’s and events like The Moody’s Jamboree, Fall Fair, Cooper Park Concert Series or Blue Moon Festival.

“When I do a lineup I set up the six previous posters in front of me and just look at who has been in the show in the past. If they were on stage last year, there’s a good chance they won’t be in it this year,” said Bleich. “There are exceptions because I’m also looking for a balance of male/female, of varying ages, a variety of musical instruments as well as a cross-section of our community.”

One of those perennial exceptions are crowd favourites The McIvor Brothers joined by fiddle champ Alex Lamoureux — who will cap off the night’s second half when full bands take the stage.

They will be preceded by Third Degree, consisting of Marci Anderson, Rod Parr and Russ Stafford. That band will team up with Ed Price and Humberto Pacheco for a few songs.

Local group the Teflons, with Doug Jordens, Vince Kastrukoff and Bruce Siciliano, will also team up with Ruth Eskritt for a song or two.

In the first half, Bleich hopes to introduce some emerging talent like the duo of Don Alcock and Shelley Ferguson who have marked some memorable performances in the local Open Mic’ scene in recent months.

Also sourced from the monthly open mic’s at The Masonic Hall are the very talented duo of Mel Stewart and Klaus Rossler of Sioux Lookout whose guitar skills will no doubt impress.

Louie Haukeness, the grand daddy of classic country and western music in Dryden will make a return appearance along with Gordon Franklin, Mike Bange and Martianna Andrews.

Youth also play a part in the show, with talented multi-instrumentalist Alex Lugli leading the crowd into the first act on the program — a duet by Katie Queau and Kennedy Cook, backed up by Adria and Marcel Penner.

They are to be followed by another young trio: Emily Gamble, Alexandria Shearer and Jenna Fenwick.

The evening will be MCed by Rob Rodgers with sound production by Everett Rourke.

“I want it to be fun,” says Bleich. “I hope that sense comes through. I want people to enjoy the music and hopefully they’re not all sitting there like judges at American Idol picking holes in things. The people up there are all local and just trying to do the best they can.”

Between Bleich’s two annual concerts Kickin’ Country and Come Together (during Christmas Holidays) the shows have raised around $52,000 for the High School’s Music Association. In recent years the Association has used the funding to purchase new musical instruments and equipment for recording.

“It sounds to me like a lot of money, but when a tuba costs $6,000, it doesn’t really go far,” said Bleich.

Bleich adds that the concerts are traditionally sell-out, or near sell-out events and that those interested in watching the show should get their tickets early. Tickets are available at Lotto One, Oxdrift Country Store, Twin Towers and Walter’s Auto Body.

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