As It Happens

Shaft Bottom Boys perform in Sudbury mine to set new world record for deepest concert

Sudbury's Shaft Bottom Boys played a show nearly 2,000 metres underground in Creighton Mine to set a new Guinness World Record for deepest concert.

The Ontario band played a show 1,893.8 metres underground to set a new Guinness World Record

The Shaft Bottom Boys from left to right: John Shelegey, Jeff Fuller, Phil Laundry and Steve Atkins. (Martha Dillman/CBC)


Shaft Bottom Boys are now officially the most underground band on the planet.

On Saturday, the Sudbury, Ont., band set a new Guinness World Record for the deepest underground concert after they played a show 1,893.8 metres below ground in the Creighton Mine. 

"[We're] four local Sudbury guys. We've all been friends for a long time," bassist John Shelegey told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. "It was surreal, actually, to play down there."

The band played nearly an hour-long set, which included hits by Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, and their signature song — Stompin' Tom Connors', Sudbury Saturday Night. A group of miners joined media and representatives from Guinness World Records to take in the subterranean concert.

"The air is not the same as it would be in a bar — where we are used to playing with some liquids other than water. But other than that it was great," guitarist Phil Laundry told CBC Sudbury's Up North host Waubgeshig Rice.

"We had a couple dancers down in front and a lot of rubber boots tapping up and down."

Shelegey says Shaft Bottom Boys started in 2004 on a bit of a whim. The local mining company INCO, now owned by Vale Limited, was putting on a community hockey event called "Sudbury on a Saturday Night" and they were looking for a musical act.

"They wanted a band to play the Stompin' Tom song Sudbury Saturday Night at centre ice during the game," Shelegey said. "So that's how the Shaft Bottom Boys got created, and it was really a novelty band for that event."

But the group made an impression and started getting requests to play other local events. Then another local band caught their ear and gave them the idea for the record-breaking concert.

"Something happened in the city in 2007," Shelegey said. "There was a high school band that played at about a 3,000 foot level at South Mine and originally captured the Guinness World Record for the deepest underground concert."

The fanfare was brief. Within a few weeks, the title was snapped up by a Finnish heavy metal band called The Agonizers.

"They basically robbed it from our high school children," Shelegey said. "That's where the idea came from — that we wanted to bring the record back, not only to Canada, but back to Sudbury."

Laundry said "there's no other place it should be but Sudbury. This is a mining town for over 100 years."

But executing their plan was no easy task. It wasn't until the band had a chance meeting with the representatives of Guinness World Records at a gala that things really took off. 

"You don't just wake up and play at the bottom of a mine," Shelegey said. "They told us personally that this was a really cool record because of the story — our deep roots with mining, how we lost the record."

The band had to confirm the surveying data with Guinness World Records to the exact measurements and figure out how to marshal all the gear and equipment down into the mine.

"The planning that went into this was executed perfectly," Shelegey said. "Things went off without a hitch and it's going to be a hard record to beat."

Shelegey may dress up as a miner like the rest of the band. But he also worked for over 28 years for Vale and he knows it will be difficult to find a mine as deep as Creighton to pull off the stunt.

The funds raised from the event will be donated to local charities Miners for Cancer and Science North summer camp program for underserved youth.

"We're all very linked to the community so when we came up with the idea we absolutely wanted to link in some of the charities that are very important to us."

Written by John McGill with files from CBC Sudbury's Up North. Interview with John Shelegel produced by Tayo Bero.


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