Tuesday 30 March 2010

Gary Fjellgaard Visits Metro

Juno Award-winner and Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member Gary Fjellgaard's takes the stage at the Riverview Arts Centre this Saturday.

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Country musician Gary Fjellgaard takes the Riverview Arts Centre stage Saturday night.

As a veteran musician with a music career spanning four decades, he has extensively toured most regions of Canada, including southeastern New Brunswick.

"I've travelled through (New Brunswick) before in different configurations," the British Columbia native says. "I remember years ago, I came through with, I think it was Ronnie Prophet and also, I toured once with Ian Tyson. I've been back for different festivals and whatnot, too. Last year, I was back for the Maritime Acoustic Music Festival. I'm actually coming back again this summer for that same festival."

In recent years, his tours include the musical team of Darrel Delaronde and Saskia as the regular opening act, and they will join him for the Riverview show.

"(Saskia and Darrel) are leaving Saskatchewan right now (March 8th) and I'll fly out on the 16th to Halifax and then we'll do a series of dates. We'll actually end up in Ottawa. I'll fly home from there," he said in a recent interview. "We've got some dates in Alberta and Saskatchewan, then we're off to Europe for a month. So, we're getting around."

The inclusion of his opening act is no coincidence.

"(Our association) started out when Saskia took a Christmas project for food banks in a certain section, area of British Columbia," Gary says. "She got (musician) Valdy and I involved. So, we contributed some songs for a Christmas CD and then, slowly, one thing led to another. Then we did a couple of concerts together. I thought (it worked out pretty good). So, the deal was (that) she started booking me and they would book themselves as an opening act.

"That's the trade-off sort of thing. It makes my life a lot easier in that they do all of the legwork. So, it works really well. It sort of evolved, too, because I'd be backstage (while) they'd be onstage doing their thing. I learned a few of their songs just sitting backstage and then (I'd) wander out with a mandolin or something. Pretty soon we'd do these songs together. Now they join me in some of my sets and I join them in some of theirs."

As he put it, "It works out pretty good."

As anyone would expect, life as a touring musician has changed over the years.

"I think that we travel around now in a little bit more style, I guess," Gary says before being temporarily overcome by laughter.

"Instead of travelling in the old Chevy van, now we're out in the motor home. (We) fly to a lot of dates now, too. It's very interesting ... immediately backtracking, I just did Yellowknife with my friend Valdy. How often do I get a chance to go up to Yellowknife? Not very often.

So, I got up there and now I get a chance to do the Maritimes and, last year, (to) Europe and travel all over. It's very exciting, especially after 40 years in the business. (It's) still exciting."

While in New Brunswick, Gary will be sure to make time for a few old friends.

"We got to know (Ivan and Vivian Hicks) last year," he says. "We actually did two house concerts at their place as we were travelling through. We got to know them really well. It's always nice to visit people like that, and I know a lot of people, a lot of people from the Maritimes, a lot of entertainers."

As for Gary's last name, "My father was from Norway. He died when I was just a baby. He was the only one in the family that ever came over (to Canada)."

Over time, Gary discovered that he had numerous things in common with his father, including his love for music.

"I didn't really know anyone in my family on my father's side and, 45 years later, went (to Norway) for a visit. So, I saw all these people. I looked like them and they looked like me. It was really weird! I didn't know, of course, but (my father) played classical music on violin. He conducted choirs."

Like father, like son.

* Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster.www.myspace.com/bernardccormier. www.twitter.com/bernardccormier. He can be reached at: Bernardccormier-gncb@hotmail.com