June 12, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Fred Dixon

// by Larry Delaney // (#75 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) FRED DIXON was born August 8, 1943 in Perth, Ontario, He was a long-time favourite on the Ottawa Valley country music scene. Fred (sometimes billed as Freddy) Dixon was a gifted songwriter with many of his songs relating to Canadiana and specifically Ottawa Valley folklore. His song “Last Fatal Duel” was recorded by Stompin’ Tom Connors and was featured on the Connors album and movie soundtrack of “Across This Land”. The film featured performances at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto by Stompin’ Tom Connors, with special guests Sharon Lowness, Chris Scott, Kent Brockwell, Bobby Lalonde and Joey Tardif. Fred Dixon worked the Ottawa Valley country music club and festival circuit for four […]
May 10, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Nancy Ryan

// by Larry Delaney // (#74 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) Nancy Ryan has enjoyed a long and successful career on the Canadian country music scene as a recording artist, songwriter and performing artist. She is also a professional horse trainer/rider/owner – horses and music top Nancy’s “been there…done that” list.     Nancy was born March 13, 1947, in Toronto. On her 10th birthday, the family home burned to the ground… they relocated to Sturgeon Falls and later moved to Timmins. She currently makes her home in Belleville.       Nancy Ryan’s first recording, in 1957, was a piano piece – a Mozart sonata in C-Major. It got a little more Country after that… she wrote some early career tunes: “I Told Her”, and […]
April 13, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Colin Butler

// by Larry Delaney // (#73 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) COLIN BUTLER was billed as “Canada’s Young Singing Sensation” – an appropriate title, as, he began performing at age 3; was a special guest at concert and club events by age 5; and by the time he was 12 years of age, had already made guest appearances on The Tommy Hunter TV Show, Family Brown Country TV show, and recorded his first album before he became a teenager. Colin Butler was born New Year’s Eve, 1960, in Lively, Ontario, and as a youngster he spent his early years in Ottawa, where his parents recognized his special talents to sing and entertain audiences. He quickly became a sought-after “child attraction”. He was soon […]
March 8, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Winston James

// by Larry Delaney // (#72 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) WINSTON JAMES began playing guitar and fiddle when he was 12 years of age, at barn dances around his hometown of Sherbrooke, Quebec. He later became a member of the house band on the TV series “Jamboree”, hosted by Dick Curless and broadcast out of Sherbrooke. After relocating to Southern Ontario and making his home base in St. Catharines, James pursued his career with special guest appearances on shows in the Southern Ontario and New York regions, including opening shows for such stars as Buck Owens (in Buffalo, NY); Don Gibson, Faron Young, Kitty Wells and Tammy Wynette (at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-On-The Lake, Ontario); as well as an opening attraction at […]
February 8, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Murray McLauchlan

// by Larry Delaney // (#71 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) Murray McLauchlan and the music he makes cannot be pigeon-holed into one category… he pretty much covers all popular musical genres – Folk, Pop, Rock, Cabaret – and, oh ya, COUNTRY. In fact, his “Farmer’s Song”, and its recording, is about as Country as it gets!! Murray McLauchlan was born June 30, 1948, in Paisley, Scotland. He came to Canada with his family when he was five years old, settling in Toronto. By the time he was in his early teens, he was learning his craft as a singer/songwriter/musician while haunting the coffee house scene in Toronto. After a brief stay in New York, Murray returned to Toronto and in 1970, he […]
January 17, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Ron McLeod

// by Larry Delaney // (#70 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series)   Ronald (Ron) James Harry McLeod was born in Hamilton in 1933. Music always played a large part in his life. At age 15, he won a Gold Award playing the accordion at the Waterloo Music Festival. He was first discovered by Canadian dance band leader Slim Gordon, who hired Ron as an accordion player for his band. After honing his skills with the band, he joined up with Johnny Davidson and added Square Dance calling to his talent list. He also called for The Brady Square Dancers. Ron McLeod’s early career fame was likely best achieved when he became a regular on the Main Street Jamboree. In 1958, he spread his […]
December 21, 2022

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Jack Scott

// by Larry Delaney // (#69 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) If you had the good fortune to be a radio listener in the late 1950s and through the 60s, you would have been treated to a steady stream of hit songs by rockabilly singer JACK SCOTT. Hit tunes like “Leroy”, “The Way I Walk”, “Goodbye Baby”, “Midgie”, “My True Love”, “Geraldine”, “Save My Soul”, “With Your Love”, “What In The World’s Come Over You” and many more, helped make Jack Scott one of Canada’s most recognizable voices with music fans around the world. What made that hit list even more impressive was that Jack wrote all those songs. Jack Scott was born Giovanni Domenico Scafone, January 24, 1936, in Windsor, Ontario. At […]
November 9, 2022

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: MIKE “Pepe” FRANCIS

// by Larry Delaney // (#68 in the Ontario Pioneers Series) MIKE FRANCIS is a multi-talented music man who has literally “done it all” in the music world. A guitarist extraordinaire, a record producer, composer, arranger, and commercial jingles writer… are but a few of his massive career credits. Music has always been a part of Mike Francis’ life. He is the son of legendary Canadian country music recording artist, the late Ray Francis (1931-2010), who headed-up the Chatham, Ontario-based group The Whippoorwills. As a teenager in his hometown of Chatham, Mike followed in his father’s musical footsteps, briefly playing with his father’s band before moving on to working with various local country and pop/rock bands – which led to full-time work in Toronto studios. […]
October 12, 2022

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Blake Emmons

// by Larry Delaney // (born: August 2, 1944 – Toronto) (#67 in the Ontario Pioneers Series) BLAKE EMMONS is likely best known for hosting the TV series “Funny Farm”, a short-lived (one season-1974) Canadian-produced answer to the long-running Nashville TV show “Hee Haw”. For diehard country music fans, Blake Emmons will also be remembered for a pair of albums – I Wish You Love, released in 1976, and First Flight, a 1983 album on Columbia Records. The debut album, released on Canadian label Condor Records, contained five songs written by Blake Emmons, including his two biggest chart hits: “Let Me Do Something Lord”, which peaked at #9 on the RPM Charts, and the follow-up single “Sunchild”, a Top 30 hit. The album also contained […]

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