CBC Radio One local music segment showcases Sask. talent
The Local Music Minute is your introduction to amazing music made right here in Saskatchewan
These days, everyone wants your attention. Here at CBC, we do too.
We know your time is valuable, so this'll only take a minute.
CBC's Taron Cochrane joins Shauna Powers, host of CBC Radio One show Saskatchewan Weekend, for the Local Music Minute, your introduction to amazing music, made right here at home.
The Local Music Minute is part of our Local Music Project. For more Local Music Project content, visit the official page.
New music from my inbox
They say the best type of friend is the one who introduces you to new music. Now, I'd like to think that, after doing this segment for more than a year, you and I are pretty good pals. With that in mind, I want to introduce you to some new music — music that has been so kindly sent to my inbox.
According to Regina indie artist Marissa Burwell, her single Coward began being written during a tearful phone conversation when she realized that she wasn't being honest with herself. At the time, it was just a statement written down, but it resulted in deep reflection — looking at where her desire to play something safe originated, where it came from to not trust what her body and mind were telling her.
I love hearing about new local bands. Regina pop rockers Carmela is one of them. So how do they describe themselves?
"Memorable riffs and catchy choruses don't mean a thing to Carmela. While they may possess them in troves, the powerhouse quartet is hell-bent on spreading their message, over their music. Born out of trauma, and traditionally gone unheard, the queer-femme fraternity is making damn sure that their voices are finally heard," they wrote.
If you were to ask Estevan husband-wife duo Moving Lines about their sound, they'd tell you that their music is art and they're painters of sound. If classic rock is your jam, their single Secrets will probably feel like a fresh coat on an old wall.
Raised in Saskatoon, Indo-Canadian multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer and producer Raj Ramayya has more than 250 television and commercial writing, co-writing and singing credits to his name. It's a name you won't soon forget once you hear his single Paparazzi Princess.
Are you local? Do you have music you want me to hear? I'd love to listen to it.
Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
What's a barbershop quartet? Do we have any here in Saskatchewan? Let's find out!
What do you picture when you hear a barbershop quartet? Are you sitting in a barbershop chair in 1930s America as four white men (wearing pinstripes and pork pie hats) harmonize beside you? That's the common image in popular culture, but it's not the whole story.
Although there wasn't one specific moment that started it all, Black culture had a much stronger impact on the genre than some people would think. For proof, look no further than Florida's The Jubalaires, who paved the way for rap music with their 1946 hit Noah.
The music was also being created outside the United States, including in Canada!
Barbershop is defined by four-part harmonies, with each person contributing one specific vocal sound. The lead vocalist sings the melody, the tenor harmonizes above it, the bass sings the lowest harmonies and the baritone completes the chord below the lead. You may also know this sound as a cappella.
The Living Skies Chorus one example of an active group in our province. These Regina men have a mission to enhance the lives of their members and the people in our community by singing and performing four-part a cappella harmony in the barbershop style. You may also remember them as the group who held a "carbershop" concert at a local drive-in during the pandemic.
In Saskatoon, there's the Magic City Chorus. This group of women is part of Sweet Adelines International — a group devoted to barbershop — and sing a combination of upbeat songs and ballads. They've been doing it for more than 60 years.
One of the most popular groups is Regina's the Mel-O-Tones! Founded in 1964 by Gord Gardiner, Fred Rodgers, Mel Friesen and Tom Magnuson, this barbershop quartet would go on to perform throughout Canada and the U.S. during their active years of 1978 to 1983. They even made an appearance at Expo 86.
One of this group's most popular songs is not what you might expect. It wasn't done in the traditional barbershop style, but in 1981 at a joint recording session with fellow barbershop quartet The Queen City Slickers, they sang on a song called Green Is the Colour. The anthem for the Saskatchewan Roughrider football team that is still iconic decades later.
As the old saying goes, "You never know unless you try."
At the start of their career, one of the longest-running punk bands of all-time — Bad Religion — tested the waters with a progressive rock EP.
Directly after leaving rehab in the late '80s, punk bassist Dee Dee Ramone took a shot at a solo rap album.
While both of these attempts didn't yield great results, at least the artists had tried.
In the case of northern Saskatchewan metal/punk musician Nigel Bell, also known as Nige B, trying something new became more than just an attempt. For Nige B, his passion for a new sound garnered some really great results, while also opening up his work to a global audience through a very unique collaboration in another part of the world.
During the pandemic, Nige B worked hard at home learning how to create hip hop, electronic and low fi music. The product of all his hard work would become his debut EP, Circa 1990, released in 2021. Garnering a SaskMusic award nomination would motivate him to continue with his second EP the year following, eventually grabbing him an Instrumental Artist of the Year award.
What makes instrumental music stand out from the rest is the ability to take what's been created and remix it. Nige B knew this and soon decided it was time to try his hand at vocals — but not his.
The Internet would lead him to Nigeria's Olawale — winner of West Africa's MTN Project Fame West Africa in 2013, an American Idol-style show that would become the catalyst for two talented musicians finding each other in different parts of the world.
Their collaboration was perfect. Olawale's crisp vocals backed by Nige B's instrumental seemed to go hand in hand. Getting it remixed by Nigeria's BrayneZee made it all become magical. Nige B had created a secret potion to success — proving yet again that you just never know what's possible if don't try.
When it comes to music, we often place a lot of emphasis on where the artist or band came from. The Tragically Hip, of course, are the pride of Kingston, Ont. Great Big Sea are globally synonymous with St. John's, Nfld.
So is it possible for a musician to make a name in a place they weren't from? For Omar Blondahl, it certainly was.
Recognized as the first musician to specialize in Newfoundland folk songs, Blondahl's passion for the Atlantic province wasn't lifelong, but it was strong. Born in the agricultural town of Wynyard, Sask., he had a series of life events that eventually led to becoming renowned for shaping Newfoundland's sound.
It was the fall of 1955. Experienced as a radio announcer and singer-songwriter, 32-year-old Blondahl was making his way to Iceland to visit his father's grave. By the time he made it to Newfoundland, money was sparse, so he sought work to finance the remainder of his travel plans. Radio was familiar territory for him, so when he spotted VOCM and was struck by their odd call letters, he decided to apply for a job.
During his interview, Omar let the station manager know that in addition to his radio background, he could also perform country and folk songs. The station manager excused himself and soon returned with a songbook of Newfoundland folk songs composed by Gerald S. Doyle.
Omar immediately recognized the beauty in the words and assumed the songs were well known in the area. He was shocked to discover that they weren't and was even more surprised that none of them had ever been recorded. He immediately made it his mission to bring them to life.
Over the next nine years, Blondahl would record and release 50 of the 76 songs found in Doyle's book, along with countless others. His soft and subtle style and forward-thinking approach to the folk genre (that include the guitar as an accompanying instrument) became celebrated.
He was known for nautically themed songs that laid out historical events, influenced by the music of Ireland. His music, sense of style and commitment to the craft had helped him build a sense of community in the province.
He had accomplished his goal of helping define the sound of Newfoundland. Plus, it seemed he knew how to write a hit!
Concerning Charlie Horse — co-written with a local — told the story of a horse that fell through the ice of Angle Pond near St. John's in the spring of '56. It gained popularity not only for being catchy, but because the names and nicknames of the people in it could be recognized by local listeners.
It became one of his biggest hits, so big that in 2005 it was covered by platinum-selling recording artists Great Big Sea — another band that helped bring the sounds of Newfoundland to the world. None of them, to my knowledge, were born in Wynyard, Sask.
CBC Radio One's Local Music Minute celebrating its first year of sharing Saskatchewan music stories, from fascinating, to bizarre, to just downright interesting.
Who better to share this milestone with us than creator Taron Cochrane?
To explain how it was born and how it has grown, he joined host Peter Mills on Saskatchewan Weekend.
Leslie Stanwyck & Gillian Snider
Our lives typically run along parallel lines to each other. Yet every so often, those lines cross and a powerful connection is made — a connection that feels like it was destined to be. I was cruising along in my own lane, when my parents cancelled an overseas trip because of COVID-19. That cancellation sparked a conversation with a colleague and suddenly we discovered an unknown connection: our great-grandfathers were siblings!
A similar connection was also made between Saskatoon musicians Gillian Snider and Leslie Stanwyck. As it happens, both of their parents were well-known musicians in Toronto and both had been working for CBC for decades.
Leslie's father, Al Stanwyck, played on thousands of commercials, radio and television shows. He also toured with legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Paul Anka. Gillian's father, Art Snider, was the music director for CBC for years, owned several record labels and went on to manage a band called the Allan Sisters.
The Allan Sisters, an Edmonton duo, made their mark on the Canadian music scene as regulars on CBC's Tommy Hunter Show. Art was their manager and he fell in love with musician Jackie Allan. They had a daughter named Gillian. Art wrote a song for the band called Silly Jilly — inspired by his love for his daughter.
Once she was older, Gillian Snider started to raise a family of her own and she moved to Saskatoon with her three children. She fuelled her passion for music by singing in choirs. Eventually she started writing songs, sang jazz and learned to play the accordion. She toured across Canada with different bands, at one point performing the music of Joni Mitchell — for the legend herself. She also fronted a klezmer, folk, rock and country blues band called The Whiskey Jerks.
Meanwhile, Leslie Stanwyck fell in love with musician Johnny Sinclair while living in Toronto. Together, they toured the world with popular Canadian band: The Pursuit of Happiness. They also started their own band called Universal Honey. After moving to Saskatoon, they started another band called Tucker Lane.
In 2016, Gillian and Leslie's parallel lives finally became tangled up in Saskatoon.
After a gig in a small club, they realized how similar their past had been. As their friendship grew, so did their interest in making music together. In September 2019, Gillian and Leslie released an album together — aptly titled Parallels.
Gillian's clever and dark lyrics complemented Leslie's talent for crafting memorable melodies and hooks. Together, they made musical magic by drawing on their life experiences. It's magic that you can clearly hear in songs like the catchy Adeline track:
Scott Benson Band
On Oct. 8, 2016, Regina's dirty bluegrass band The Dead South uploaded their latest music video to YouTube, something they've done many times before. What they didn't realize was that something very different was about to happen.
Lyrically controversial but sonically familiar, In Hell I'll Be in Good Company was a new approach to video-making for the band, who partnered with Zach Wilson of Emerald Park's Two Brothers Films.
Every rhythmic finger snap in the song instantly transported the band to a new location — from a prairie wheat field to downtown Toronto, from the Regina Farmers' Market to famed Queen City record store Vintage Vinyl. The video instantly went viral, and has almost 370 million views to date.
The random and rare experience of having a video go viral eventually happened, too, for Moose Jaw's Scott Benson Band — an amped-up instrumental five-piece rock band led by violinist and fiddle player Scott Benson.
UFC Europe used the band's cover of the song Requiem for a Dream in a 2020 promotional video on TikTok, and it immediately garnered 700,000 views, with more than 4,000 others sharing it. Eventually, the shares built up to more than 20 million streams of the song worldwide. Today, it has become certified double gold in Europe with sales of over 150,000 units.
Success never got to their heads, but the rush of fame inspired the band's drummer Jared Dormer to get himself into the Guinness World Records book for playing a cajón drum for 26 hours straight.
We may be living in an overwhelming technological age, but within the floods of information there's opportunity. It may be random and unexpected, but when local music goes viral, it can be very exciting to watch it unfold.
A decade ago, I was doing social media workshops across the province. After one of them in Weyburn, a young woman came up to me and asked me a few questions. Her name was Tenille Arts and she was an aspiring singer-songwriter.
Fast forward to April 2021 and her single Somebody Like That was the No. 1 song on U.S. country radio.
It's a song intentionally written to stray away from the down-and-out break-up songs the genre is famous for. Described as a "search for epic love that lasts a lifetime," this positive, upbeat anthem didn't just grow her audience — it helped it explode.
With more than 125 million streams on Spotify, this one song solidified Arts as a strong female presence in a genre historically dominated by males. Through this song (and her discography to date), the aspiring singer-songwriter made a name for herself — a name so familiar, it has sparked online fandom.
Social media accounts like Tenille Nation appeared, and soon enough she became a powerful voice online. And 250,000 Facebook followers, 150,000 Instagram followers and 18,000 followers on X, formerly known as Twitter, would all agree that her musical talent is more than something you like. It is something you love.
Eventually, for Arts, performances at the the Ryman Auditorium, known as the "Mother Church of Country Music," became standard. But this wasn't the only history she was making. The team behind Arts' No. 1 hit was all-female: co-written with Allison Veltz and produced by Alex Kline. That made Kline the first-ever solo female producer to have a song performed by a female artist reach the Top 15 of American radio.
Additionally, this one moment was also nationally recognized here at home. It was the first time a Canadian hit No. 1 on the U.S. country charts since Emerson Drive in 2007. In 2020, Arts had the opportunity to sing the Canadian national anthem at the NBA all-star game in Chicago.
Although her song Somebody Like That was written because she was inspired by couples she looked up to like her parents and grandparents, in the end Arts became the one who thousands of others look up to and love. I guess when it comes to making a positive change in an industry and the music of Weyburn's Tenille Arts — we all need somebody like that.
Songs about Sask
When musicians write songs about the place they call home, it's expected. However, when musicians write songs about places they love that aren't their home, it's exciting. Giving a shout-out to a specific place through music is such a kind gesture. It's also a tourism agency's dream! So, which musicians who don't live here have written songs about little old Saskatchewan?
Obviously, there are the usual suspects, such as Prince Edward Island's Stompin' Tom, who more than 50 years ago empowered us with his song Roll On Saskatchewan.
And of course, if you've ever been to a Saskatchewan wedding or Roughriders game, you've heard the comedic hit The Last Saskatchewan Pirate from Ontario's The Arrogant Worms. The song is so ingrained in our identity that Regina singer-songwriter Amy Nelson released her own version in 2018 alongside local music icon Brad Johner.
The music video was peak Saskatchewan and included legendary Saskatchewan Roughriders as the villains (you know, I always assumed Bob Poley was a pirate.)
Then there's the shout-outs from the relatively unknown — like when Russ Gurr, the singing farmer from Arrow River, Man., chose sides by releasing Saskatchewan For Me. Or the Vancouver Scottish punk band The Real McKenzies' song Weyburn. It's a first-person narrative about being admitted into the Weyburn Mental Hospital. That's where LSD was introduced as a form of treatment and the term psychedelic was coined.
Another Vancouver punk band, The Dreadnoughts, also told some of our history through their song, Battleford 1885. The powerful Clash-inspired anthem recounts when eight Indigenous men were hanged during the North-West Rebellion.
Sometimes the shout-outs are really unexpected.
If you've ever watched the TV show 24 or movies The Lost Boys and Young Guns, you're probably familiar with Hollywood actor Keifer Sutherland. Today, he's also an accomplished musician. What you may not know is that Keifer is also the grandson of Tommy Douglas — the Saskatchewan politician who was the driving force behind Canada's first universal health insurance plan and, in 2004, was voted as the greatest Canadian by CBC audiences.
In 2019, Keifer's mom and Tommy's daughter, actress Shirley Douglas, suffered her second stroke. So as he anxiously flew home to see her in Saskatchewan, he feared the worst.
According to Keifer, he was convinced that when the plane landed, his twin sister was going to give him the news that his mother had died. By the time he stepped off the plane, though, he had several reasons to be much happier than expected. Most importantly, his mother had survived. But in the moment and amidst his worst nightmare he had also done something beautiful. He wrote the heartfelt song Saskatchewan.
If you're going to square dance in Saskatchewan, you have to have a fiddle in the band.
In this case, the band is Edmonton's Sons of the West. The fiddle player is Swift Current's Ameen Sied Ganam, a flashy young Syrian-English musician whose red-hot talent and style gave him the title of 'Canada's King of the Fiddle.' The name was so fitting, he would professionally become known as King Ganam.
Winning over audiences with his trademark sound (and wink), King Ganam had a career so impressive he would become one of the original inductees into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989. A year later the Saskatchewan Country Music Association honoured him with their Legend and Legacy Award.
So what exactly did this career entail?
Thanks to old time fiddlers in Swift Current, Ameen would cut his teeth in 1923 playing fiddle at dances at the age of nine. By 13, he was appearing on CHWC radio in Regina.
His adult life found him making his way to Edmonton, where he hired a country backup band, the Sons of the West. Together, they'd perform on CBC radio show Alberta Ranch House and win the 1950 World Open Western Band competition in Vancouver. That win secured them a recording contract with RCA Victor.
At a time when releasing dozens of albums was normal for popular musicians trying to make ends meet, King Ganam only officially released four for the label over the span of 10 years.
More success would mean another move - this time to the epicentre of the Canadian music scene (and home of CBC's national headquarters) Toronto. TV appearances on CBC's Holiday Ranch would lead to his own CBC radio show for a few years, followed by a chance to sharethe stage on CBC TV's Country Hoedown with Tommy Hunter, who for these occasions joined the Sons of the West.
By the 1960s, King Ganam rode his fiddle and wave of success to California to retire. He came home every so often to tour the country he called home, and Canadians gave him and his talent royal treatment for decades.
It's April 1998 and Earl Pereira, bassist for Saskatoon rock trio Wide Mouth Mason, is about to have the experience of a lifetime opening for The Rolling Stones. No stranger to success, Earl and the band have already had a single on the highest selling Canadian compilation album of all-time, Big Shiny Tunes 2.
Eventually Earl and Wide Mouth Mason would part ways, but for him it was just the beginning. He'd soon breathe new life into his career with a new band, MOBADASS, and an entirely new sound that fused funk, dance rock and raggae.
Earl's musical tide would later turn once more and bring him to The Steadies. Mixing dance rock with ska, funk and reggae, The Steadies pulsate island rock positivity through every song.
The latest single Champion is a perfect example. An uplifting reggae rocker, this song feels like summer, evoking feelings of hope and empowerment. Even more touching is the story behind its creation. In 2017, the band lost lead guitarist Justin 'Juice' Lee suddenly. Champion was a song he helped write before he died. Thanks to some magic in the studio, his original guitar tracks are in the final recording.
So here's to Juice, Earl and everyone who finds happiness in music.
Saskatchewan is home to dozens of ghost towns. There are so many that more than 100 of them are celebrated on a poster created by Weyburn-born designer Nigel Hood.
It used to be quite common for a prairie town to thrive, struggle and then fade away. But in this province, you seldom hear about a failed city — until now.
In the early 1900s, typhoid fever spread rampantly in Saskatoon every summer as clean water became contaminated by trash and sewage.
In 1909, a man named Billy Silverwood thought up a solution to the contamination problem: purchase land with a spring of clean water, bottle it and then sell it to Saskatoon residents.
The idea became reality with a company called Silverwood Springs and the response went gangbusters. However, the project encountered some challenges.
To start, the livestock that lived inside the barn built on the hill above the clean spring ended up contaminating the water. But Silverwood soldiered on, solving that problem, and the land he owned eventually became sought after and bought.
That's how Factoria was born.
By 1913, the community boasted several businesses including a flour mill, a brick-making company, a hotel with 66 rooms and a restaurant. A rail line connected it to Saskatoon.
All that the community was missing was the infrastructure for electricity and the money to build it. But by this time, a world war had begun and banks stopped offering large loans as they focused on funding the war effort.
This meant lights out for the City of Factoria.
More than 100 years later, Saskatoon underground hip hop producer Graham Murawsky (known professionally as Factor Chandelier) became captivated by the story of Factoria.
The tale was so fascinating to the artist, that he created a soundtrack for it with his concept album Factoria, released in 2016.
Paying homage to the failed city, Factor Chandelier's album included songs titled Buildings, Shoulders of Giants featuring Myka 9, The Magic City and Silverwood Springs.
The album is like a musical accompaniment to a dream, a dream that sadly disappeared — like so many other communities that collapsed before and after Factoria fell apart.
At work, my desk is a local media and music museum. Some of these artifacts I've found myself, while others have been given to me by kind-hearted people familiar with my obsession.
Recently, I was gifted a Fall 1966 TV program guide and it's absolutely fascinating. I love that every broadcast day started with the ever-so-familiar Test Pattern, and that you could watch the CBC News every night at 11. But my favourite thing is the popularity of music variety shows.
A two-for-one, this type of programming gave you entertainment with a soundtrack. Now you didn't have to decide if you wanted to listen to music on your radio or drift away during your favourite show on TV.
On Mondays at 7:30 p.m. it was Don Messer's Jubilee. After nearly two decades broadcasting in various formats on CBC Radio, the show was broadcast across Canada on CBC Television from 1957 to 1969. Led by an accomplished East Coast fiddler, this folk music variety show became so popular that in the mid '60s its ratings were higher than the Ed Sullivan Show in America and rivaled Hockey Night in Canada here at home. Its cancellation in 1969 ignited coast-to-coast protests.
On Fridays at 8:30 p.m. it was The Tommy Hunter Show. Getting his start in 1956 as a rhythm guitarist on CBC music variety show Country Hoedown, Tommy's career trajectory would rival that of Don's. Starting off on CBC radio in 1960, this country music variety show placed more focus on the music than the other entertainment. It would become a CBC TV staple for 27 years, introducing the nation to young performers such as Garth Brooks, Shania Twain and even Alanis Morisette (as a country singer).
Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services may have changed the landscape today to on-demand, watch anytime programming, but the age-old, tried and true variety show concept lives on thanks to local band Wolf Willow.
Born in the Northern Great Plains of Saskatchewan, this band does what Don, Tommy and several others made so famous — they tell a compelling story through music. Now the band has created a modern day variety show.
The show pays homage to the lost art of the TV variety show through matching stage attire and vintage props. It makes you feel like it's 1966 and you're watching them from your living room.
Drawing on genres such as countrypolitan, honky tonk and Western Swing, the band's catalog — like its cast of characters — is vast. The latest release, Marv and Stoneface Sing, is a digital 45 (on Saskatoon's Grey Records) that shines the light on two of the band's members: bassist and vocalist Marv Ptlosky, and lead guitarist and vocalist Stoneface Stanley.
Stoneface's song Telling Myself Stories reflects the country psychedelia popularized by artists like Lee Hazelwood, while Marv's track Hey Bruce delivers a driving Tex-Mex and twang style. As Stoneface takes the time to paint a picture of self-doubt and pain, Marv tells a story of struggle and redemption.
Although you won't be able to catch Wolf Willow on TV tonight or any night this week, you can catch them live this Summer at the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival in Saskatoon and Gateway Festival in Bengough. I promise the performances will make you feel like you just sat down with your family to watch TV in the fall of '66.
John Arcand is a true Saskatchewan legend.
Known as the Master of the Métis Fiddle, Acrand's passion has been lifelong. He has collected much acclaim and many awards.
Métis fiddling features a unique combination of First Nation, Scottish and French-Canadian rhythms. What makes it stand out is its ability to make you dance and get your feet moving, while also filling your heart with pride.
As a composer of more than 400 songs, Arcand has kept tradition alive by teaching the next generation and even physically repairing the instrument as a luthier.
When I used to pick my daughter up from preschool, she'd skip to the car and I'd think to myself, "What an amazing outlook on life. Just to be so happy in the moment." Sadly, with an increase in angst and division these days, that mindset seems less and less common.
Unless you're Saskatoon's Aaron Karpinka.
Aaron was on the front line of the pandemic as a grocery store manager, fielding everyone's emotions in an uncertain time. So how did he handle it? Instead of fighting fire with fire, he took a lesson from my daughter and just danced.
Every day, before the store opened, Aaron recorded himself dancing down an aisle to a new song and shared it on social media. It was such a ray of sunshine that it garnered him national media attention from CBC.
So who is this Saskatoon citizen with the sunny disposition?
I've met some pleasant musicians through the years, but Aaron and his brother Shawn are truly among the nicest. Known professionally as The Karpinka Brothers (and to their die hard fans, The K-Bros), this duo created a warm folk/pop sound that didn't just delight their listeners, it helped them share the stage with everyone from John K. Samson to the late Gordon Lightfoot.
In 2020, Aaron Karpinka released his debut solo album Tender Heart. The pandemic caused problems, with tour dates postponed, shows cancelled and eventually the store he managed closed. One of Saskatoon's nicest musicians was consistently being dealt a bad hand. The situation was so dire, not even dancing would help.
Aaron retreated into something he loved — his music.
The results are his 2023 sophomore album The Current.
According to his bio, these new songs are braver, brasher and more telling. Yet through it all love — both the poison arrow and the antidote — is still the message.
So smile awhile — and maybe dance a step or two — with Aaron Karpinka's brand new single The Current.
Regina Symphony Orchestra
On Feb. 15, 1904, Scottish-born botanist George Watt started a diary.
He was the gardener for Regina's prestigious Government House, and many entries were focused on his work and the weather.
Looking back, one entry stands out from the rest.
It was Wednesday, July 20, a warm and windy day when he pruned trees (yet again). On this day, George also attended a meeting to organize a City Band. Franklin Laubach was appointed as their leader.
That band was the Regina Philharmonic Orchestra. Known by 1908 as the Orchestral Society, today it is recognized as the Regina Symphony Orchestra (RSO) — Canada's longest continuously performing orchestra.
Recently, while flipping through a stack of old vinyl, I discovered a record released by the RSO in 1983. It features all the songs originally played at the inaugural concert 75 years prior. As noted on its liner notes, "In a world preoccupied with looking ahead, anniversaries give us a good excuse to look back."
As the audience aged, the RSO sought to renew its sound. Maestro Victor Sawa brought a fresh perspective to the programming in 1996. A Masterworks and Pops concert series would soon be unveiled. The Masterworks series focuses on tried and true classics, alongside music by living composers like Regina's own Elizabeth Raum. The Pops series targets the younger generation through symphonic treatments of famous songs heard in hit movies and popular shows.
Under Sawa's leadership, the RSO created an outdoor concert. Dubbed Mozart at Mission Ridge, through the years it would evolve to become Symphony Under the Sky. The audience would increase, as would their financial health.
The RSO also became the only orchestra in Canada to receive royal patronage from King Charles III and the only Canadian orchestra represented in the international orchestra at Charles' recent coronation.
Today, under the direction of conductor Gordon Gerrard, the fun and exciting performances continue.
Gerrard's focus is forward-looking. Through the Forward Currents Festival, the RSO has explored themes as wide-ranging as truth and reconciliation, mental health and living out loud as a queer person. The orchestra has also connected with younger audiences by bringing soloists like Indigenous hip hop poet Zoey Roy into high schools alongside the RSO Chamber Players. That's just one of the initiatives that benefits the entire community.
It began with a community meeting detailed in a diary entry, and now the Queen City has an orchestra it can truly be proud of. You could say it's fit for a King.
Trifecta Sound Collective
DIY is more than just an acronym.
For punk rockers, it's a call-to-arms, and while they might have been some of the first musicians to embrace the idea, it's a growing trend in other genres too.
The concept is simple — to succeed, you do everything yourself. Print your own merch, release your own albums and, for Regina's Marvin Chan from the duo Samurai Champs, create your own festival.
Starting in 2014, the Trifecta Music Festival's goal was to help the under-served get a voice. From hip hop to R&B to DJs and solo acts, everyone had a stage. Word spread and so did the message.
The Trifecta Music Festival's focus would soon shift. It was now getting the word around through a new approach — export missions.
London was calling and so was The Netherlands. Singapore would prove to be the most impactful — personally and professionally. Savan Muth (the other half of the multi-city hip hop/R&B group Samurai Champs) finally got to visit Cambodia, which his parents escaped during the Khmer Rouge genocide.
Today the festival is a memory, but the DIY approach lives on through the Trifecta Sound Collective. It's a label and support system for several artists including DJs Tefrondon, Mr. Rager, daigorô and DJ Rain. Also on the roster are Denise Valle, Gee, Jeah, LOA, Luke Elliot, Samurai Champs, Alex Bent + The Emptiness and their most recent signing Zochi.
An Afrobeat-inspired Nigerian artist, Zochi's latest single Kolo Bia (Crazy Come) is so infectious we asked her to perform it inside Regina's oldest building for the newest episode of our Local Music Project Liner Notes video series. Watch for that video in the coming days.
From a festival to a collective, Trifecta not only did it, they proudly did it themselves.
Super rad Saskatchewan music mixtape
They were labour-intensive musical love letters in a forgotten time. To create one, you needed to take all of the music you owned (or that was currently playing over the radio) and transfer it to a physical medium like a cassette or CD (or 8-track if you were really dedicated).
Receiving one was always very special. The fact that someone took the time to meticulously curate and organize a mix of music that they hoped you'd like — that really meant something.
Yes, services like Spotify can now make you your own playlist, but that's just a heartless string of tracks assembled by an algorithm. It pales in comparison to the art & craft of making a mixtape for someone, usually emblazoned with a witty title, custom artwork and several different fonts for the track listing.
Cassettes, the most popular choice for mixtape creation, had their heyday in the '70s and '80s. Since you've all been so supportive of my Local Music Minute segment from the start, I'd like to make you one of your own.
Presenting the Super Rad Saskatchewan Music Mixtape. It's 100 per cent local and, of course, 100 per cent from the heart.
Now normally, Side A was reserved for all the best selections while Side B became the home of the good but not great songs. For mine, I'd like to instead go in chronological order. Think of it as a sonic timeline.
Track #1 - Jim Roberts, Saskatchewan
Although there have been several songs written about our province, none are catchier than this provincial anthem by Jim Roberts. His crystal clear voice and the songs' galloping rhythm became the soundtrack to Saskatchewan's Homecoming events in 1971. Jim would later contribute official songs for both the 1979 Western Canada Summer Games and Saskatoon's centennial celebrations in 1982.
Track #2 - Wascana, Patience
Releasing their 4-track debut EP in 1973 as part of a CBC Radio Canada Broadcast Recording series, Wascana was created by Regina keyboard player Daryl Gutheil and bassist Ken "Spider" Sinnaeve. After relocating to Winnipeg, Nokomis's Kenny Shields would soon join the band as their vocalist. Known then as Witness, the addition of guitarist Paul Dean and drummer Matt Frenette would round out the band, which then decided to go by its most notable name, Streetheart.
Track #3 - Madeleine Viczko, Bonjour Saskatchewan
Passing at the age of 92 in 2022, Fransaskois singer-songwriter Madeleine Viczko is notable for many reasons. Not only did she release her first album at the age of 49, she was the first person to record at Studio West in Saskatoon and wrote more than 100 songs in both French and English. Her most notable was 1979's Bonjour Saskatchewan — a hit song with a memorable chorus hummed by many fans to this day. It would help her become recognized as a trailblazer for introducing French music to the West.
Track #4 - The Idols, Reajean
One of Saskatchewan's biggest rock bands of the 80s, Saskatoon's The Northern Pikes formed in 1984 and signed a major label record deal in 1986. Today, you recognize them as the band behind such hits as Teenland, Girl With a Problem and She Ain't Pretty. But before this mass success they were cutting their teeth as The Idols, an alternative pop band who released a two song 45 in 1980 that included the infectiously catchy Reajean.
Track #5 - Sound FX, Agent 88
The pride of Prince Albert, Sound FX was very 80s. The band members embraced the New Wave and punk style with matching attire, wildly coloured hair and music that made you want to pogo. They once shared the stage with Bill Wright of CBC Regina kids show, Switchback, but what really caught my attention was their music video for 1983's Agent 88. Available on YouTube, it includes everything you could love about that decade including — hilariously by today's standard — a keyboardist who smoked while playing.
Track #6 - Kick Axe, On the Road to Rock
If you were a metal head in the Prairies, you knew about Kick Axe. Originally forming in Regina in 1974 under the name Hobbit, they would change their name to Kick Axe in 1976 and relocate to Vancouver in 1979. In 1984, they would release an album that would become synonymous with their sound, Vices. In 1986, the band would appear on The Transformers movie soundtrack under the name Spectre General. More than 40 years later, the band is still on the road, playing Shake the Lake in Regina in 2022 and set to rock the fields of Minnedosa, Man., in August 2023.
There's something so magical, in life and music, when two become one.
You can hear that magic on Juliet, the debut single from Prince Albert duo Cupid's Heart. Together, cellist Stacey Dunn of Matachewan First Nation and guitarist/vocalist Emma Jean, formerly of Saskatchewan band Rymestone, have created something unique. Born out of queer love, this song has resonated with CBC audiences so much that right after we played it on The Afternoon Edition, it got picked up by eight other CBC stations across the country.
Giving Up, the latest single from Regina's Elle & Jules, deals with heartbreak and loss, and was intentionally released on Valentine's Day. The pair met in high school more than 20 years ago and has been writing music as a team ever since. Creating music is cathartic and healing for them both, and has gone over so well that they have a growing catalog of 15 original songs. They've shared these deeply personal songs as a way to self-express and self-reflect.
It was more than just magic that brought Regina's Scott Perrie and Leora Joy together — it was love. This married folk pop duo, known professionally as Winsome Kind, have been creating beautiful music together since first meeting over a decade ago during a Saskatchewan production of The Buddy Holly Story. Their 2021 single Full Moon is a shining example of what can be accomplished when two hearts become one.
You can't discuss duos without recognizing one who has been regarded as Saskatchewan's ultimate power duo — Saskatoon's Munro & Patrick. After continuously crossing paths at awards shows, festivals and on stages, Heidi Munro and Scott Patrick knew that the time was right to join forces to create something special. By combining their talents, they are creating music worth talking about. If it isn't a powerful original song, it's an unforgettable cover. Case in point: have a listen below to the CBC debut of their latest single, a cover of John Waite's 1984 hit Missing You.
A Toque for everyone
Cover bands are an absolute riot!
U.S. punk supergroup Me First and The Gimme Gimmes once recorded a live album at a kid's bar mitzvah, playing everything from Hava Nagila to Blondie and the 1898 Neapolitan hit, O Sole Mio.
Hungry for more? Mac Sabbath, a Los Angeles-based McDonald's-themed Black Sabbath parody band, refer to their sound as drive-thru metal and wear terrifying outfits based on the restaurant chain's famous mascots.
Here? Through time, dozens of bands across Saskatchewan have covered decades of hits we all can sing along to. If you didn't see Men Without Shame's '70s-fuelled purple bus with giant yellow sunglasses barrelling down the highway, you stood in awe as Dangerous Cheese covered your senses in an '80s-themed experience that would have made Max Headroom jealous.
OK, so what hasn't been done? Well … no one, to the best of my knowledge, has created an entirely Canadian classic rock tribute — one that not only plays the chart-toppers created here but also lesser known, yet still familiar, national gems.
Meet Toque — a prairie-born, rock supergroup so Canadian that they called their 2016 debut album GIVE'R and released it on their own label, K-Eh Tel Records. The best part? They've got Saskatchewan roots.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Todd Kerns grew up in Lanigan and cut his teeth in '90s fronted MuchMusic darlings Age of Electric — a band he shared with members from Regina. Kerns would eventually join a band with Slash from Guns N' Roses before also finding his way to this new, unique super group.
Guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Cory Churko was born in Moose Jaw, eventually finding himself sharing the stage with Kelly Clarkson, Reba McEntire and, most notably, Shania Twain for more than two memorable decades.
Rounding out the band, drummer and vocalist Shane Gaalass was raised in Alberta while bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Brent Fitz grew up in Winnipeg.
While the band collectively breathes new life into the classic rock catalogs of bands such as Aldo Nova, Harlequin, Streetheart and the Headpins, it's when their music hits closer to home that, for me, it really starts to connect.
For example, I thought the wild landlord who once lived above me was the only one who used songs like Down Again by Regina's Queen City Kids to get a party started.
This approach, obviously, has really resonated with a core audience of classic rock enthusiasts. Taking a page from the name of their 2019 album, success within a specific demographic just wasn't enough for Toque. It was on their album Never Enough that they realized all this talent in one room can't be contained — so they released their first original song, the blazing Never Enough For You.
And for Toque, the feeling of creating a fresh, new original song wasn't enough. Following a few unforgettable Queen City performances during Grey Cup week in Regina, the band is back with yet another original banger. On April 4, 2023, they will be releasing Something For the Pain into the world — further confirming that, regardless of your tastes, there's probably a Toque song for everyone.
Unique Sask. recording studios
Strolling through Regina's historic Warehouse District is like a walk through time. Faded advertisements cling to the exteriors of nostalgic architecture while local businesses breathe vibrancy and youthfulness inside. You can only imagine the sounds that must have once filled these streets. These days, if you were to the slowly open the bright blue door tucked quietly behind 1118 Broad St., you might hear some unforgettable local music.
You just discovered Blue Door Recording. Guiding their clients through everything from pre to post production, Blue Door Recording has an open door policy accepting musicians of all walks of life, regardless of skill level.
From the Chilean folk of Moose Jaw's Andino Suns featuring Megan Nash, to the blazing thrash metal of Saskatoon's Untimely Demise, all the way to the dreamy sounds of Fransaskois band, Ponteix, and the heart melting pop songwriting of Filipino Internet superstar Brian Mendoza.
Blue Door Recording's track listing of work is an impressive genre-bending mix of local talent. And in our province, they're not alone.
Roughly 200 kilometres north of Regina, in the quiet village of Viscount sits a church stunningly converted into a recording studio. Gone are the days where the echoes of a choir rang off its walls. Today, everything from post-hardcore to jazz crooning and melodic pop rock reverberate live-off-the-floor of The Sound Castle's original maple hardwood and 16 1/2 foot high ceilings, showcasing the raw talent of bands like Saskatoon's Too Soon Monsoon.
Surrounded by stunning stained glass windows, surprisingly what truly makes this studio shine isn't just its story. At the heart of this small Saskatchewan studio is a true dedication to sound. Boasting a high-quality AD/DA converter and a 24-channel vintage Soundcraft console, The Sound Castle proudly uses over 50 microphones in its productions.
Promoted under the name of Toneshift Audio, this attention to audio detail can be heard in songs such as Good Things by singer-songwriter Christopher James Vasseur, 3Peat by Bridge City rapper Ev Thompson, and Delicate by Summer Douglas
When it comes to Saskatchewan recording studios, attention to audio detail isn't the only indicator of success. Sometimes, simply taking what you have in front of you and making it work can have very beneficial results. Roughly 3 1/2 hours southeast of Viscount, you'll find the thriving arts community of Langenburg.
Yes, Canadian country superstar Jess Moskaluke calls it home, but that's not their only bragging right. Meet the Flav'r Country Blues Band. Together since 2014, this wildly talented 4-piece just released their debut album Road to Osilinka in 2022.
Yes, they embody the spirit of blues and yes they confidently play a variety of music outside of the genre but what exactly does this have to do with recording studios? Well, proudly boasting a "turning junk into treasure" philosophy, this band dusted off and revived old instruments, called in the community for musical accompaniment and created our province's first-ever livestock-barn-made music venue/recording studio.
So how does this music sound? Why not hear it for yourself. Debuting for the first time on radio and CBC, have a listen below to their debut single My Feet Are Tired.
Can a province's music scene change your life?
Songs move us. Albums move us. But can the music from an entire province change our lives?
Old Wood Bridge by the Local Onlyz changed mine. Ten years ago, I was tasked with creating an all-Sask soundtrack for a skating rink in Downtown Regina. As I gathered hundreds of local folk, country and rock songs - Old Wood Bridge by Sask's Local Onlyz was an awakening. It opened my eyes to the vastness of music being made right here in my own backyard. An awakening that would soon lead to a decade of dedication within our local music industry.
And get this, I'm not alone …
For Wendy Bergfeldt, Host and Producer of CBC Cape Breton's Mainstreet music mattered in the community where she grew up - Mozart, Saskatchewan. Not only was the community named after a famous composer, there was also bands everywhere, a local fiddle maker and an inspiring trumpet playing Mayor.
Its influence would shape the way Wendy thought about music and community. Media would soon come into play when Swift Current radio DJ Art Wallman would inspire her through his strong commitment to both.
Art's impact on Wendy's career would be life-changing. Today, after two decades of heavy involvement in media, music and her community, Wendy has a bio like no other. An East Coast Music Awards lifetime achievement recipient, this radio host (with her own song) will be co-presenting a paper with Mi'Kmaq tradition bearers at the Society for Ethnomusicology conference in Ottawa about the creative burst of energy in Unama'Ki, Cape Breton.
The Saskatchewan song that reminds Wendy most of home? 1967's Lure of the Arctic by Wroxton's Smilin Johnnie and Eleanor Dahl.
For Kaley Evans, freelance Saskatoon-based local music historian, his life was changed through one lucky find - a Prince Albert created album called Roving Saskatchewan. Written by Jim Munro, it wasn't just Jim's music that inspired Kaley to create his archival Sask-focused online and on air persona Prairie to Pine it was something much more impactful. It was also his DIY approach to the creation of his music in an environment lacking the infrastructure many musicians needed to record.
So why has Kaley decided to dedicate so much of his time and talents to preserving Sask-made music? The answer is actually quite simple. To him, a lot of the music made here in Saskatchewan is just really fantastic.
The Saskatchewan song that Kaley cherishes the most? It came courtesy of Henry and Dolores Gardipy. A Prince Albert based First Nation duo who wrote, Our Love is Like the Weather - a quintessential country song about what we all love to talk about here in our province - the weather.
Sask-made music has had quite a significant impact on so many lives through the decades. Culturally diverse and historically significant, where we came from helps define where our music industry will go for years to come. From the community of Mozart and the passion of Art Wallman, to the DIY work ethic of Jim Munro and raw talents of the Gardipys - if our love is like the weather, when it comes to Saskatchewan and the music we create, the forecast calls for plenty of sun and clear skies ahead.
Ukrainian music in the Prairies
Home will always be where our heart is.
It's where we celebrate our culture. Music, of course, is usually the soundtrack to many of those celebrations. Here in the Prairies — for over six decades — Ukrainian music, created by its people, continues to grow and thrive.
To the right of us in 1964, Manitoba gave us Ukrainian folk duo, Mickey and Bunny.
The Cold War made it hard for Canadians to easily obtain music in their language. So when Mickey and Bunny recorded Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land entirely in Ukrainian— it was a hit! Selling over 10,000 copies, many people around at that time have proudly noted they were bigger than the Guess Who in Manitoba.
Here at home, we were introduced to The Country Lads in the late 1970s.
Road to Yorkton from their album Saskatchewan's Finest was a song that didn't just hint at where to find the proudest Ukrainian citizens in our province. It also showcased the vibrancy and diversity of Ukrainian music overall. And get this, the band is still active today but they've since changed their name to the Old Country Lads.
As the years progressed so has the sound and style of Ukrainian music. So let's fast forward to present times. Saskatoon's Tyt i Tam is a prime example of this progression.
Recorded during the pandemic, the Ukrainian turbo-folk band's high energy song Sama Pui (translated to I drink by myself) is a solemn reminder of those times we spent alone in isolation.
While Ukrainian music has been traditionally (and most famously) used as a soundtrack to celebrate — there isn't always a cause for celebration. Since last year's invasion by Russia, the country of Ukraine has been enduring the horrors of war. Horrors no one should ever have to face.
Empowering and strengthening, Ukrainian music is more important now than ever before. Thankfully, Kateryna Grace, a teenager from Saskatoon, knows this. That's what prompted her to write the anthemic Stand With Ukraine. A song just as powerful as her message and voice.
For those about to yodel — we salute you!
In 1933, Alberta country legend Wilf Carter used his unique vocal gift to yodel his way to the first ever major country music hit recorded by a Canadian with My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby.
Decades later — before he encouraged us to Rock Around the Clock and Shake, Rattle & Roll — America's rock & roll pioneer Bill Haley was actually one of the country's top cowboy yodelers.
So who else wanted to be a cowboy and make it big in the music industry? Enter Alberta Slim, one of the most interesting musicians to call Saskatchewan home.
Immigrating from England as a child, Alberta Slim (born Eric Charles) became a hobo during the Great Depression. Inspired by hearing his new hero Wilf Carter on a Calgary radio station, he set out to become a yodeling cowboy himself.
What about the name? A friend was headed off to the army and gave him some old shirts with Alberta Slim stitched onto them. The name (and shirts) seemed to fit just right.
A railroad rider, he travelled across Canada from street corner to street corner, playing his guitar and yodeling. He found himself in Regina in the late 1930s and entered an amateur talent show for CKCK radio. That moment would set the course of his entire career.
A CKCK singing job that led to radio work for CFQC in Saskatoon during the early 1940s, followed by another radio job with Regina's CKRM in the late 1940s.
He wasn't only doing radio work, however. It was in those times that Saskatchewan's Alberta Slim really made a name for himself through personal appearances, performances at local events and by selling postcards with his image to fans (something that earned many artists more money than their music).
By the 1950s, Alberta Slim had his first hit with When It's Apple Blossom Time in Annapolis Valley. He would eventually sign a recording contract with RCA Victor. His time in Saskatchewan would soon end, as he landed his own morning radio show on CKNW in British Columbia. Alberta Slim would spend the rest of his life in B.C., working well into his 90s (in music and other ventures).
Much later in his career, in 1997, RCA released a CD called Golden Memories, on which Alberta Slim joined the CBC Happy Gang Orchestra and shared 30 songs telling of the beauty, history and historic events of Canada. It's a wonderful compilation, and a great way to celebrate the career of a man who got his start in Saskatchewan and became the yodeling cowboy he always wanted to be.
Big River Cree
In September 2021, 17-year-old Meadow Musqua performed a healing dance outside a hospital window as her kokum battled COVID inside. As I watched a news report about her dance, it wasn't just the traditional and heartwarming gesture that grabbed my attention.
An amazing song was playing loudly while Meadow danced. It was Jingle Dress Side Step by Big River Cree — a Cree hand drumming song that was hard to forget — and it would lead me to a newfound love for this Saskatchewan group.
So what is Cree hand drumming and who are Big River Cree?
One of the oldest instruments (and earliest means of communications) for First Nations people, the drum signifies the heartbeat of Mother Nature. Built from dry animal hide pulled tightly over a wooden frame, its rhythm assists with healing.
It's said that the Creator revolves around this rhythm, and when the drum is combined with the human voice, the hum that rests between the two becomes the spirits of the ancestors.
The drum circle represents balance, equality, wholeness and connection, with the Creator at the centre. The drumming becomes the connection to all creation and strengthens everyone's connection to each other.
This form of unity couldn't be stronger for Big River Cree.
The group is from Sask's Big River First Nation, about 98 kilometres northwest of Prince Albert. Consisting of extended members of the Whitefish family, the group truly has a lasting legacy offline and on. Together since the 90s, they've found present day success, with their songs garnering hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify.
My Heart Belongs to You (from their 2006 album Just for U) has 555,331 streams, while Meadow's song for her kokum, Jingle Dress Side Step, is at 883, 367!
Well-known and respected across Turtle Island for their unforgettable sound and unique style of singing, Big River Cree showcases traditional proper hand drum protocol learned through their grandparents' teaching and guidance.
That guidance hasn't just benefited the members of the group, but everyone — myself included — who has been fortunate enough to enjoy the music the group has been creating for decades.
Saskatchewan loves to polka
Saskatchewan loves to polka and it's a love affair that has lasted for over 80 years.
Moving to Saskatoon from Czechoslovakia, at the age of eighteen - Canada's Mr. Polka, Gaby Haas would become synonymous with the happiest sound around. Shortly thereafter, Norway's Olaf Sveen would follow suit becoming the first artist in our province to release a LP in 1958.
Whether crowds were filling Regina's Trianon Ballroom or Saskatoon's Manhattan Ballroom to record a live album with Prince Albert's The Cottonpickers. One thing is for certain, if you lived in Saskatchewan you loved to polka.
This love affair would become so serious that even America's Polka King Frankie Yankovic would make special trips up here to perform (usually at the special request of Regina Mayor Henry Baker or famed Morning Mayor, Regina media personality Johnny Sandison). In December of 1995, Yankovic would join forces with Canada's King of Polka Walter Ostanek on his final tour - a province wide adventure captured in a four-part documentary called One More Time (now available on YouTube).
This strong love for the genre would soon birth something unique to our province, Polka festivals. Places such as Vibank, Grayson, Edenwold and Saskatoon would host such large events that they would become part of a 1999 locally created documentary They Live to Polka.
When it comes to living to polka, there's no one quite as familiar as Regina's Western Senators. Starting out in the early 70s, they're still playing today performing countless hits that have made the genre famous the world over. Nominated for a Grammy in 2009 for their album Duelling Polkas with Walter Ostanek - you can see them and the King himself one more time as part of the Winterruption concert series on January 28th at TCU Place in Saskatoon.
So whether you've been struck by the music of Melville's Len Gadica, swayed softly to the Moosomin Rhythmaires or been mesmerized by the yodeling drummer in The Drehers - if you're from Saskatchewan, you've probably listened to the rhythm of a polka at some point in your life. And if not, why not take the time right now to pop a top, roll up the rug and dance to the music that has made a name for itself in the Canadian prairies…POLKA!
Indigo Joseph, Regina
They've seen the World in all its glory — and they're alive again!
On Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, Fransaskois art rockers Indigo Joseph reunited to a packed house at O'Hanlons Pub in downtown Regina.
Throughout their career, the band members brought more than just the sky to us — they gave us a large body of incredible music. So let's breaking down where they came from, what they did and where they went.
Born where the ground was flat, Indigo Joseph started off as a humble local band in 2011, making waves by doing everything from a media interview & performance on a city bus to releasing their infectious EP Lilith in 2012.
In 2013, the band would receive national attention, winning the CBC Music Song of the Summer contest with their single Others.
The band had achieved mainstream success and 2014 would see them release their highly anticipated debut album Collage. Sadly they would also play their final show on Nov. 11 of that year at Toronto's famous Horseshoe Tavern.
So where in the world did they go? Some members released music under their own names. Others won national music competitions.
Over the past decade, they focused on creating other forms of art, beautiful families and even falling in love. An ending to a career that could rival the finale of any song.
Gut Balloon and Third Ion, Regina
The Super Mario theme was an anthem for an entire 8-bit generation.
Superman by Goldfinger played the same role years later. Video games like the Tony Hawk franchise completely revolutionized how music was used in games, introducing millions to new artists while paying respect to legacy acts and legends. Far gone were the dusty 8-bit sounds of the '80s.
Some bands, like local art punks Gut Balloon, even wrote songs about it.
Gut Balloon really showcased video games and their soundtracks. If lead singer Devon Dozlaw wasn't dressing up as Spider-Man (who was unlockable in Tony Hawk), the group was making music videos with skateboarding (a tribute to Tony Hawk). The 2020 EP From the Gut referenced both the web-slinger and the game.
Punks weren't the only ones showing their love for video games and their soundtracks. The most fascinating example came in 2015, with the inception of Regina prog metal super group Third Ion. The brainchild of local metal icon (and producer) Justin Bender, the debut album 13/8 Bit would see the band securing a record deal and worldwide distribution of their music.
Third Ion didn't just have talent, it also had incredible sci-fi and comic book themed album art and a storyline so engaging, it would lead Justin Bender to create an entire video game around it called Xero Hour.
A throwback to the 8-bit video game style he grew up with, Xero Hour featured Dr. Xero, who Third Ion fans may recognize from album covers. The game itself featured 8-bit versions of the band's songs, proving once again that when it comes to video games, sometimes it's all about the music.
Brian Baggett, Fort Qu'Appelle
Musically, every province and territory in our country has a sound to call its own. A sound not always just defined by genre, sometimes it's a sound created by a very unique and very memorable musician or instrument.
To the east, Arrow River, Man. had Russ Gurr — Federal Grain sponsored Singing Farmer who released an album called Hogs Are Beautiful in 1976.
To the west, Kimberley, B.C. had Adi the Yodeling Woodcarver — a hometown legend who became the voice of their Platzl cuckoo clock, the world's largest.
Here at home, we have our own unique voices. In 1977, Regina's Joe Hunter released an album entitled Musical Saws where he made music on, yes — regular old saws.
If you spent any time in Foam Lake, Sask., you certainly would have heard the name Willie Hunchak — an award-winning Ukrainian Tsymbaly player who once made waves in our province's polka scene.
So who today is doing something no one else is doing?
Meet Brian Baggett, a proud Texan who fell in love and moved to the Qu'Appelle Valley 12 years ago. A successful woodcrafter himself (minus the yodeling) what makes Brian and his music stand out is the instrument he plays: a Chapman stick. In fact, he is the only person in Saskatchewan who plays one!
So what exactly is a Chapman stick?
Created by Emmett Chapman in the 1970s, the Chapman Stick looks like a wide version of the fret board of an electric guitar, but with 8, 10, or 12 strings. Considerably longer and wider than a guitar fret board, unlike the electric guitar, a Chapman Stick is usually played by tapping or fretting the strings, rather than plucking them.
More than just a schtick, the music Brian has created with his Chapman Stick has earned him a nomination at this weekend's Saskatchewan Music Awards in the 'Instrumental Artist of the Year' category. No simple feat but once you hear his music, you quickly begin to understand why.
Further showcasing his talents, Brian's holiday EP Let Nothing You Dismay was also recently announced as the No. 7 Best Saskatchewan Album of 2022.
As you shop for that perfect instrument for the music lover in your family this holiday season, maybe walk past those guitars and try to ignore that drum kit. What they really need to stand out is a Chapman Stick so one day they too can release music like Brian's. Music that, not only, sparks conversation but has helped define our province's sound.
Smilin' Johnnie Lucky, Wroxton
Eight miles north and one mile east of Wroxton, Sask., stands the home of dedicated Saskatchewan musicians Smilin' Johnnie Lucky and Eleanor Dahl. In their autobiographical book, titled after these directions, Johnnie himself lays out a fascinating 60 year career in music. It's a rare tale, especially in the DIY pre-technology times.
Just how dedicated were they?
Smilin' Johnnie, Eleanor (and usually Guy Coderre) threw themselves into their craft, self-releasing dozens of albums and promoting every show by making their own posters, and calling promoters and venues directly.
So what made them stand out above the rest?
It wasn't just the eye-catching album art, always designed by Glenn McDougall of Fury Guitars. It wasn't just Johnnie's glow-in-the-dark guitar (now on display at the National Music Centre in Calgary). What made them stand out was their keen ability to do what no one else had done before.
In the 1960s, Smilin Johnnie, Eleanor and Guy made a point of touring where no other musician had been. Instead of travelling by car, they travelled by plane. Instead of getting to a venue on foot, they got there on a boat. Together they became the first Saskatchewan musicians to tour the farthest and hardest-to-reach places in Canada's north. They documented their travels on their 1960s album Salute to Canada's Northland.
Not entirely happy with the way things were going with his career, in the 1970s Johnnie lost the smile and laid out all his frustrations on the brutally honest album Watchin' Our Country Die? Those frustrations included everything from changes within the music industry to the downfall of society in general. Every song covers a specific topic and includes a personal intro from Johnnie, describing why he wrote it.
It was a bold, yet not surprising, move from someone who dedicated his life to music and worked incredibly hard entertaining others. If you find yourself in Wroxton, Sask., make sure you head eight miles north and one mile east — where the sun shone so brightly and birds sang so sweetly, especially when Smilin' Johnnie was with us.
Andino Suns, Moose Jaw
It was Sept. 11, 1973. A ruthless dictatorship had just taken over Chile. Hundreds ran for their lives, with many finding safety in Saskatchewan. This is where the story starts for Chilean folk-rockers Andino Suns.
Through the years, Andino Suns has become a powerhouse in the Prairie music scene. As 2022 recipient of the Western Canadian Music Award for Global Artist of the Year, the group is as resilient as the Chilean families who found solace under Saskatchewan's living skies.
Proudly dedicated to their culture and backed by immense talent, the band's latest album 911 isn't just an incredible listen. It's a call-to-arms, a call to educate, a call to inform and a call to empower.
Debuting nationally on the CBC Music show Frequencies, the lead single Nos Vamos (We're Off in English) provides an anthemic backdrop to a band with a voice. That voice tells a story that, regardless of background, we all need to hear.
Alexis Normand, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan is beautiful! Through the years many musicians have proven this by writing prairie-centric tunes about the places they love. From Rick Morgenstern's ode to Meadow Lake to Brian Sklar's civic anthem Prince Albert. Even the Guess Who wanted to keep running back to Saskatoon!
You can now add Fransaskois singer-songwriter Alexis Normand to this list with her whimsical new single "Hidden Valley".
Inspired by the 'Valley of Hidden Secrets' near East End, Saskatchewan - Normand's song is a musical love letter that perfectly captures your feelings when you stop, take a breath and soak in everything around you.
Wrapped comfortably in music, what makes this song shine is its lyrics.
A visual gift given to us from the moment she sings that very first note.
The Extroverts, Regina
Music genres, over time, become popular in waves! Ska saw three waves in the 60s, 70s and 90s. While its sister genre, punk rock crashed against the shores with waves in the 70s and 90s.
It's very rare that this phenomenon would happen with bands themselves - unless you're Regina's The Extroverts.
They started as Saskatchewan's first punk band in 1979. Three years later, they called it a day.
Several decades later in 2016, they returned. After successfully dusting off the past, the band would make an even more exciting discovery - a stack of unused lyrics from 1979. This would become their official debut 2016 album "Supple" - with music for the lyrics being written between 2009 and 2016.
13 rough demos would also get unearthed. These too would get the royal treatment with modern day music being written and recorded.They'd aptly title this release "DEMOS 1979".
Purists may argue that punk's not dead. In the case of The Extroverts…they've proven it!
Don Freed, Saskatoon
"Don, I really think you're going to do something but I don't know what it is."
That's what country legend Johnny Cash said to Don Freed after hearing him perform a couple of songs backstage. It was 1969 and Don Freed was just 19 years old.
Later that year, this chance encounter appeared in the documentary The Man, His World, His Music. It helped Don follow his dreams of becoming a professional musician. Unfortunately, it would not go as smoothly as planned.
Don found himself working harder than ever to make it in the industry. He released a string of folk albums in the '80s. In the '90s, he described himself as a 'meandering and unfocused' journeyman folk singer.
That focus came back at a family funeral at Duck Lake. It was there he found out he was Métis, a discovery that filled him with pride.
His goal was to create music that mattered. Music for, by and about his people. This would all lead him teaching and writing music with youth in northern Saskatchewan.
Don turned his attention to his new young co-writers. In turn, they helped him write songs based on of their own real-life experiences.
The passion was back. After several years, Don Freed's most significant piece of work would come to life. The Valley of the Green and Blue is a 15-song project on the history of the Métis that include songs about prominent Métis leader Gabriel Dumont, 1885 and the Métis losing their freedom.
In the end, Johnny Cash was right. Don had done something special.
Even folk icon Pete Seeger was moved. He sent Don a postcard that said, "Wouldn't Louis Riel be proud of what you & the kids are doing?"
Andrea An, Saskatoon
Language is important, not only for communication, but as a means to embrace, support and maintain culture. Here at CBC we offer domestic television, radio and online content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. Radio Canada International, our overseas broadcasting service, offers online content in five languages: Arabic, Chinese-Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish and Tagalog.
Next to English, the Filipino language of Tagalog is now the second most common language spoken in Saskatchewan.
Together music and language have a special bond that Saskatoon Vietnamese-Canadian singer songwriter Andrea An understands well.
On her debut album Bloom, Andrea's versatility shines bright. Her multiple talents grow more impressive with each song. Although singles Wanting You and I Choose Me Over You helped support her debut, what really stands out is her powerful song Never Say Goodbye.
Why? For this specific song, Andrea released three versions in three different languages: English, Korean and Vietnamese. Each one gives the listener an opportunity to embrace, support and learn more about the other cultures.
Hats off to Andrea An for the unique and thoughtful approach to writing and sharing her music to a much wider audience.
Growing up in a South Asian family in Regina, Hitesh Sharma held tightly onto his heritage while also embracing the Western influences that surrounded him. Soon enough these influences, an eagerness for audio editing and his passion for popular music would all come together to create a sound so unique, his music went viral to an audience of millions.
Tesher's process was quite simple: take Bollywood music he loved and remix it with Western hip hop hits that everyone knew and loved. This formula would quickly get international attention, with Sony Music India getting him to produce the official Bhangra mix of Kar Gayi Chull from the Kapoor and Sons Bollywood film soundtrack. He showed his family pride by including vocals from his sister in the remix. This song eventually hit its peak when it was performed at Femina Miss India 2017 by actress Alia Bhatt.
In 2020, for his next musical magic trick, Tesher created an original rap that paid tribute to the King of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan. True to form, this song's beat sampled Bole Chudiyan from the Bollywood film Kabi Khuhsi Kabhie Gham. It would become his major label debut and official first single for Sony Music India.
So how did the song do? By July of 2020, it hit Number 1 on the BBC Asian Music Chart and to date has more than 20 million views on YouTube and more than 20 million streams on Spotify. It was a pretty incredible way to launch a major label career and just a small fragment of the mass success that would follow in the years to come.
Colter Wall, Swift Current
There's something to be said about any artist who still celebrates their home after building an international career.
Enter Swift Current singer-songwriter Colter Wall, one of Saskatchewan's fastest rising stars. After stepping up to the global stage, he not only dedicated an entire album to our province, he also covered a song by Lewis Pederson III, a relatively unknown cowboy poet and musician from the small village of Abbey, Sask.
In 1975, Lewis Pederson III released his debut album Rodeo No. 1 Sport, a concept album on rodeos (from the grand entry to the last bull ride), with the goal of getting it officially recognized as a sport. At the time his music was even praised by Canadian country music legend Ian Tyson.
Since this song's original release, Lewis Pederson III has spent the last four decades as a farmer, rancher, cowboy poet, entertainer and author of the book Cowboy Philosophy. He is now a resident of High River, Alta., and runs the saddle shop at the BarU Ranch, Canada's only national park with a western theme.
So what's Colter up to these days? Well, he's still a popular musician around the globe, but he has also followed in Lewis's footsteps and is now a dedicated rancher himself.
Sadly, he never pursued a high and mighty rodeo career. At least not yet.
Matt Kaip, Regina
An avid builder and player of the guitar, Regina's Matt Kaip released his debut solo EP earlier in 2022. A mesmerizing instrumental daydream, Matt's EP is full of stories — many untold and one right before our eyes.
For the EP art, Matt was inspired by a 1937 painting done by his great uncle for his grandparents' wedding.
Each song on the release goes along with what you see. Most notable is Ha Ling Peak, a song inspired by a mountain just south of Canmore in the Alberta Rockies.
Ha Ling Peak was named after a local chef who was bet $50 that he couldn't scale the mountain and plant a flag at its peak in less than 10 hours.
He incredibly ended up doing it before lunch. When no one believed him, he did it again with a much larger, more visible flag.
They named the mountain in his honour. Sadly, the first name was quite offensive and its eventual renaming became part of a 2018 CBC documentary.