December 6, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Ken Reynolds

// by Larry Delaney // (#79 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) KEN REYNOLDS The late KEN REYNOLDS was largely a “behind-the-scenes” personality in the Canadian Country Music world… but he certainly played a role that deserved top billing. Ken Reynolds was instrumental in the success of music legends Wilf Carter, Don Messer, The Happy Wanderers… and much more. Ken Reynolds was born August 9, 1929, in Brownsburg, Quebec. As a youngster, his family relocated to Leitrim, Ontario, in the Ottawa Valley; and while in his teens, he became a talented square dance caller. In the early 1950s, Ken acquired an entertainment booking license and became the exclusive booking agent and tour manager for the legendary Wilf Carter (Montana Slim), acquiring over 300 show […]
September 11, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Bobby Lalonde

// by Larry Delaney // (#78 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) Bobby Lalonde has been a lifelong resident of the Ottawa Valley, born May 22, 1958, in the small farming community of Fournier, Ontario. Until recently, in nearby Hawkesbury, he owned and managed his own music store, now a Long & McQuade regional outlet. Bobby first hit the stage as a nine-year-old, playing fiddle in a band with his three brothers (Gerry, Gilles and Marc), billed as The Four Sons. As a young teen, he won the Junior Fiddle Championship at the famed Shelburne Fiddling Competition and went on to the National Fiddling Championship in 1975. Bobby was inspired by many of Canada’s legendary fiddle players – the likes of Don Messer, Johnny […]
August 11, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Ron Sparling

// by Larry Delaney // (#77 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) The early formative years of the Canadian Country Music “industry” were built around the dreams and hard work of a few dedicated individuals – RON SPARLING was at the forefront of that movement. Ron was a musician, a manager, an advisor, a leader, a mentor… and much more. Born May 12, 1940, in Ottawa, Ron Sparling spent his early years in Campbells Bay, Quebec. As a youngster, he was intrigued by the glamour of small town fairs and festivals. At age 17, he became a drummer for the Ottawa Valley group The Blue Mountain Boys, and soon after, he played drums for Hank Rivers – at the time, one of Canada’s top […]
July 14, 2023

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Jerry Palmer

// by Larry Delaney // (#76 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series) Country/Rock ‘n Roller JERRY PALMER was born Gerry Godick in Fort William, Ontario (now Thunder Bay). He began his music career as a teenage rock ‘n roller, sharing the stage with Canadian teen idols Bobby Curtola, Paul Anka and U.S. stars Bobby Vee, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran. In 1961, he crossed paths with famed Canadian producer/manager Don Grashey (of Myrna Lorrie and Carroll Baker management fame). Grashey signed him to his Gaiety Records label and suggested an identity change from Godick to “Palmer”, the surname of a Grashey business partner at that time. Early career recordings were produced in Hollywood studios and Jerry Palmer was touring the U.S., making appearances on […]
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 15, 2023

Save Our Creative Community: Make Your Voice Heard

Currently, 35% of radio airtime for Popular Music formats in Canada is reserved for recordings that meet the criteria for definition as Canadian Content (popularly known as CanCon). Currently, a recording must embody a minimum of two of the following four elements: M (music): the music is composed entirely by a Canadian A (artist): the music is, or the lyrics are, performed principally by a Canadian P (performance): the musical selection consists of a live performance that is recorded wholly in Canada, or performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada L (lyrics): the lyrics are written entirely by a Canadian This is commonly referred to as the “Maple System” (MAPL). With multiple writers, if the majority of the combined writing credits are Canadian, it qualifies. The Canadian […]
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 […]


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