North·Audio

Musicians of the Midnight Sun: Tony Buggins

In Episode 6 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun, Pat Braden speaks with Tony Buggins, an early rock 'n' roll guitarist from Deninu Kue (Fort Resolution), known for his work with the Native Cousins.

Buggins trained under master fiddler Angus Beaulieu

Tony Buggins (left) was a member of Native Cousins, a band he formed with Fort Resolution musicians (left to right) Leandre Beaulieu, Lloyd Cardinal, Gladys Beaulieu, and Angus Beaulieu. (Submitted by Pat Braden)

Musicians of the Midnight Sun is a new 10-part CBC radio series produced by northern musical icon Pat Braden. Braden has spent 15 years collecting interviews, photographs, and recordings from some of the North's most celebrated artists, which he is releasing in an online archive.

A new episode of the 10-part series will debut on CBC Radio One's The Trailbreaker every Tuesday morning at 7:40 MT.

Listen to Episode 6 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun

In Episode 6 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun, Pat Braden speaks with Tony Buggins, a early rock 'n' roll guitarist from Deninu Kue (Fort Resolution) known for his work with the Native Cousins. 6:48

Tony Buggins remembers a childhood in Fort Resolution surrounded by country music -- but it was his sister's LPs that got him into rock 'n' roll.

"Chuck Berry came into the scene, that killed it," said Buggins. "That was it for the traditional country boy."

Tony Buggins is the sixth musician profiled by the new CBC radio series Musicians of the Midnight Sun.

Tony Buggins (left) pictured with Phillip Constant, Robert Beaulieu (on drums) and Ricky Mandeville (right) in one of his first bands, "Sounds at Heart." (Submitted by Pat Braden)

In his interview with series producer Pat Braden, Buggins remembers how the early greats of rock 'n' roll inspired a love of live music that would define his musical career.

Listening to LPs of Elvis and Buddy Holly, "you could feel the energy," Buggins says. "You could feel how much fun they were having when they were doing that kind of music."

Tony Buggins played with Kevin Mackie in The Universal Music Machine ('UM²'). (Submitted by Pat Braden)

Buggins started playing while at school, where he was a founding member of UM Squared (The Universal Music Machine), a band he formed with drummer Kevin Mackie.

He learned rock 'n' roll techniques from fellow musicians who picked them up at Yellowknife's Akaitcho Hall and returned to Fort Resolution for the holidays.

"They were picking guitars," said Buggins. "It's the first time I'd ever seen anybody pick a guitar. Before that, it was all strumming."

Buggins honed his craft under legendary Fort Resolution fiddler Angus Beaulieu while he was still in school in Fort Resolution. He remembers Beaulieu as an exacting musician with a strict sense of rhythm.

"It’s very important for us to keep it going, encourage young people," said Buggins. "I’ve been travelling a bit lately... and boy, is it good to see a bunch of young bands working." (Submitted by Pat Braden)

"Timing had to be perfect," said Buggins. "He had a really good ear for notes and if something was out of tune he'd tell you. [It was] a very strict training ground."

With fellow musicians in Fort Resolution, Buggins formed the Native Cousins. He credits Beaulieu with keeping the band going when they couldn't afford instruments.

"He bought drums, he bought amps, everything, and he just set us up and put us to work," said Buggins.

You can listen to Pat Braden's full interview with Buggins and see photos from then and now on the project's website.