North·Audio

Musicians of the Midnight Sun: Albert Canadien

In Episode 7 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun, Pat Braden speaks with Albert Canadien, a member of The Chieftones, Canada’s 'all-Indian' rock band.

Canadien remembers touring with the Beach Boys

Albert Canadien sits in front of the microphone in a broadcast booth at the CBC radio station, where he hosted the popular music request show, 'Gather Round.' (NWT Archives/Henry Busse fonds/N-1979-052)

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 7 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun:

In Episode 7 of Musicians of the Midnight Sun, Pat Braden speaks with Albert Canadien, a founding member of The Chieftones, Canada's "all-Indian" band. 6:43

Albert Canadien's musical career had an inauspicious beginning.

It was the mid-1960s, and Canadien was touring the Edmonton music scene with a band of former students from a residential school in St. Albert, Alta.

In those days, the local musicians union demanded that a band have a booking agent.

The Chieftones billed themselves as 'Canada's All Indian Band' while touring the American Midwest. Top, from left, Jack Cecil, Richard Douse, Vince Clifford; bottom, from left, Albert Canadien, Barry Clifford. (Submitted by Pat Braden)

"We met a guy, he said he was from Milwaukee or someplace," said Canadien. The agent, who called himself Larry Bartelli, said he'd need $7,000 to get them started touring cross-country.

"We gave him the money and then we took off to Toronto," said Canadien. "We got to Toronto and there was no Larry. Larry, he was gone. Nobody knew him."

Canadien is the seventh musician profiled by the new CBC radio series Musicians of the Midnight Sun.

The band he joined at school would go on to become The Chieftones, "Canada's All-Indian Band." Together with the Beach Boys and other iconic acts of the '60s and '70s, they would tour the United States and play venues like Madison Square Garden for crowds of thousands.

In his interview with series producer Pat Braden, Canadien remembers how The Chieftones' rocky beginning led directly to their success in the American Midwest.

After Bartelli failed to show in Toronto, the band pursued him to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"The address we were given, we looked for the place, it was a parking lot," said Canadien. "Nobody knew Larry Bartelli. So, we lost out on $7,000."

But they found a different booking agent that sent them on a circuit through Indiana college towns.

The Chieftones, performing in Edmonton, Alta., in 1964. From left to right, Barry Clifford, Vince Clifford, Jack Cecil and Richard Douse. (Angus Beaulieu)

They travelled with the Beach Boys at the height of their fame, playing for 20,000 students at Boston Gardens.

"It gives you a sense of awe," said Canadien. "You never in your life dreamed of being in a place like that, you know."

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

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