Country Music Loses Some Giants

DemoRama Live Hits Hamilton
November 13, 2013
Artist of the Month: Brooklyn Roebuck
November 13, 2013

Country Music Loses Some Giants

Shelley Snell

Shelley Suzanne Snell was a beacon in the Canadian country music scene. Sadly, her bright light went out on October 8th. At only 51 years of age, Shelley succumbed to metastatic colon cancer at Sunnybrook Hospital. Although Shelley worked in all genres of music and for several companies along the way (mostly at Sony Music, but  also at BMG, Universal and the CHUM group), it was country music where  her real passion laid. Perhaps it was because she was raised on the east coast and attended many dances, ceilidhs and was born into a musical family, or perhaps because she just loved to dance.

Shelley was passionate not only about the country acts she worked with in her many years in artist relations, but because that style of music resonated with her. She was fun and funny, and her personality was always bubbly and energetic. But make no mistake, she took her work very seriously and possessed a conscientious work ethic. Whether  working with her favourite Canadian acts or international names, she took them all under her wing and put their needs first. She also loved  animals, specifically dogs. Her loving sister Jill Snell-de Cartier has created a new non-profit dog shelter in her honour called aptly  enough, ‘Gimme Shell-ter’. Shelley was honoured at a memorial service held at Berkeley Church in Toronto on October 22. Attended by her family and extended work family along with hundreds of people in the music industry, she was celebrated and given a moving and loving send- off.

Shelley looking very cool

Many were touched by this petite girl with a huge heart. She will be very missed and always remembered. Donations and information about Gimme Shell-ter can be found at:

Ken Palmer was a cofounder, mandolin player and vocalist for the long-lived Canadian bluegrass band The Dixie Flyers. He was 65 years of age when he passed on October 30th of pneumonia following a heart transplant at University Hospital, London, Ontario.

Kenneth Wayne Palmer was born in Montreal and grew up in Port Stanley. He and Bert Baumbach started the Dixie Flyers back in 1974. During the  band’s long run they released 8 albums, won a Jack Richardson Award, were inducted into the London Music Hall of Fame, hosted their own television program, hosted a weekly radio program and performed at major bluegrass festivals all across North America, as well as many guest appearances on The Tommy Hunter Show, The Ronnie Prophet Show and The George Hamilton IV Show among others.

Ken Palmer and his mandolin

For a while, Ken ran a record retail outlet, Sam the Record Man, in London. He was also a CBC Radio host of “A Country Music Perspective” and he helped to develop Fanshawe College’s radio station. During the 1970s, Ken was the talent co-ordinator for the old Smales Pace and Change of Pace folk clubs, and from 1990 to 2005 he was the artistic director of the Home County Music & Art Festival. To say he helped a lot of musicians’ careers would be an understatement. He made his life in the musical arts and helped so many others do the same.

During the band’s 37 year run they had over 20 musicians perform in the Dixie Flyers and through his artistic director positions, he gave hundreds of others career breaks. Ken Palmer was a good judge of musicianship and whenever he saw talent, he did anything in his power to nurture it. He was a positive and loving individual and always enjoyed a good joke or story. Plus, he passionately loved bluegrass and  country music. Ken’s service was held Monday, November 4, 2013, at  1:00pm at the Williams Funeral Home, 45 Elgin Street, St. Thomas, Ontario.