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Still Kickin’

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Emily Gamble and Alexandria Shearer perform at the seventh annual Kickin’ Country. Photos by Jon Thompson

Seventh annual local music fundraiser keeps the lineup fresh

By Jon Thompson

After seven years of producing the annual Kickin’ Country concert, Carl Bleich joined dozens of local musicians as he performed for the first time.

“I don’t call myself a musician but I enjoy playing the guitar,” he said. “It’s the first and last time. I find it very stressful, to be honest. I’m busy and I want to be out there and listen to the show.”

The near-sellout crowd had begun lining up more than an hour early for the 7 p.m. start and after a year of organizing, 300 emails sent and final adjustments underway, Bleich had to turn down the request for a final backstage jam before the curtains opened.

Thanks to his backstage efforts, among others, the show flowed perfectly and for Kickin’ Country’s sake, Bleich would prefer to keep the show moseying along from the sidelines.

“I don’t think there were any glitches at all. People put their best foot forward and practiced. It’s people getting together and jamming. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a celebration, not a competition. People were just getting out and enjoying it, from the musician side of it.”

Between Come Together concerts dating back to 2004 and Kickin’ Country shows since 2007, the local shows have raised $52,000 for the Music Association of Dryden High School. Saturday night’s show was the first to be recorded live with new Mac recording software, purchased with the proceeds.

Back in 2007, the mood of Moody’s Jamboree exhibited a bit of a classic country flavour but it was the country night in the Cooper’s Park series that really demonstrated how much of an appetite Dryden has for the genre.

“If you look at the history of Dryden, the ‘Clover Belt,’ it was called. There’s a lot of arms in the area. People would get together in the kitchens on Friday and into the halls like Eton-Rugby or Oxdrift, people got together and went dancing on Saturday nights. I think there’s lots of places in Ontario that you don’t have to pick too far through before you find some good country music.”


One thought on “Still Kickin’

  1. Jon & Chris:
    Thanks for the great coverage for this year’s Kickin’ Country and in general for all the music events you promote. Another full house thanks to both The Observer and CKDR. Again, your support is much appreciated. Regards, Carl

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