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October 16, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Bob Lucier

Born: December 9, 1942 – Grande Prairie, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Bob Lucier was born in Grand Prairie, Ontario – a small community near Chatham – and he has been playing steel guitar since his late teenage years. He first played professionally with his hometown-based Myers Brothers & The Jubilaires. He would later become a renowned steel guitarist for several of Canada’s top country bands, including Eastwind – a group headed up by Johnny Burke; and with the Caribou Showband, with that group hosting their own TV series At The Caribou. Bob also was the steel guitar player in the house band backing Canadian legend Tommy Hunter, host of the long-running CBC-TV series, The Tommy Hunter Show. He was also the steel guitarist in the […]
September 18, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Paul Weber

Born: May 22, 1960 – Kitchener, Ontario (by Larry Delaney)   Paul Weber was raised in a Kitchener, Ontario-based country music family. His father – Howard “Smoky” Weber – played in various local bands in Southwest Ontario, and his older brother Mike Weber was a gifted steel guitarist. In 1985, the Webers celebrated the family’s collective talents with a full-length album, “The Webers – Together.” In the mid-1970s, Paul Weber joined his brother Mike as a member of Joe Firth’s Promised Land band; a group that toured extensively across Canada. By the early 1980s, Paul Weber would strike out on his own as a solo artist, recording albums on the Boot and Great North American Phonodisc (GNAP) labels. Later CD albums were released on Cardinal […]
August 1, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: The Rhythm Sweethearts

(Circa 1953-1972) (by Larry Delaney) The early days of Canadian country music were predominantly the domain of male country singers and musicians… there were very few star female performers, and indeed, it was rare to find an all-girl act on the Canadian country scene. That male stranglehold on the genre was first challenged in the mid-50s by The Rhythm Sweethearts, a Toronto-based female foursome, who became a marquee name on the Ontario country scene, and beyond. The Rhythm Sweethearts were comprised of Myrtle Gifford, a Marmora, Ontario, born bass guitarist and vocalist; Bessie (Elizabeth) Brunette, a Pembroke, Ontario-bred lead guitar player, vocalist and yodeler; “Patti Jo” (Patricia Hennessey), from Digby, NS, was the group’s drummer; and Lorrie Gale (Lorraine Gallant), of Moncton, NB, played guitar […]
June 30, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Larry Coad

(born: December 20, 1946 – Espanola, ON) (died: November 21, 2012 – Burlington, ON) (by Larry Delaney) Larry Garnet Coad was born December 20, 1946, in Espanola, Ontario. His love for the Ontario Northlands region and his Metis heritage was frequently found in his songs, such as, Espanola (recorded by Terry Roberts); Manitoulin (recorded by Marjorie Freeborn); and Sudbury (recorded by Colin Butler); the latter winning Song of the Year in the 2005 Sudbury’s Homecoming event. During the 1980s, Larry Coad was one of the hottest songwriters on the Canadian country music scene, scoring many national chart hits for top artists, most notably, Harold MacIntyre and the group South Mountain. The Larry Coad and Harold MacIntyre (and the Area Code 705 band) combination was particularly […]
May 31, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Al Bruno

Born: January 22, 1937 – Sudbury, Ontario Died: August 21, 2015 – Pensacola, Florida (by Larry Delaney) Some of Canada’s very best musicians and entertainers often fly just below the radar… and achieve international stardom without receiving much recognition back home in Canada for their efforts. Al Bruno certainly fits the description. The Sudbury, Ontario-born super guitarist toured with Conway Twitty, worked numerous major sessions in the USA (Merle Haggard and Buck Owens recordings among them), and was named the Academy Of Country Music’s (ACM’s) Guitar Player Of The Year ten times – he has even served several terms as a Director of the Academy Of Country Music. Born Al Bruneau, January 22, 1937, in Sudbury, Al worked his first gig when he was five […]
April 27, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Alabama

(by Larry Delaney) Country music fans are familiar with the super-group ALABAMA, the Nashville-based foursome who charted some 80 Billboard Country Hits over two decades (1980-2000), including an incredible total of 33 #1 hits. Some fans, however, may not be aware that Canada had its own ALABAMA, a decade earlier. The Canadian group was a foursome of country/rockers, clearly ahead of their time. The Canadian version of the group Alabama was best known for their radio hit “Highway Driving”, a 1973 recording that has stood the test of time and is now recognized as a Canadian classic. The lyrics of the song remain emblazoned on the minds of many: Ninety miles to North Bay, and I’m on the road again I’ll make it home sometime […]
March 31, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Johnny Burke

Born: April 28, 1940 – Rosaireville, New Brunswick Died: September 21, 2017 – Cobourg, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Jean Paul Bourque was born into a French Acadian family in New Brunswick. He moved to Toronto in the early 1960s, anglicizing his name to Johnny BURKE and began working the Toronto music scene, heading up the band Johnny & The Bees and later, the Blue Valley Boys. After a lengthy stint in the house band for The Carl Smith Country Music Hall TV series, Johnny then (1967) headed-up The Caribou Showband, which would later (1972) become the popular Johnny Burke and Eastwind band. The Johnny Burke & Eastwind group (Al Brisco, Joe Howe, Brian Barron, Roddy Lee, Mel Aucoin) toured extensively across Canada and were the […]
February 29, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Ron McMunn (“The Silver Fox”)

Born: Dec. 6, 1932 – Almonte (Clayton), Ontario Died: July 17, 2007 – Ashton, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Ottawa Valley country music performer Ron McMunn was dubbed “The Silver Fox” long before Nashville hit-maker Charlie Rich used the descriptive tag. McMunn has been acknowledged as a huge mentor and influence in the Ottawa Valley country music scene and for the artists who followed in his footsteps. He remains best recognized for his classic country songs, “Reserve Me A Table”, “Play Me One More Country Song”, “My Old Truck” and “This Bottle Filled With Wine” – all songs that he wrote. Ron McMunn was born December 6, 1932, on the family farm in Almonte, Ontario. He learned to play fiddle, harmonica and guitar during family gatherings, […]
January 29, 2020

Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Julie Lynn

Born: 1947 – Gaspe, Quebec Hometown: Mattawa, Ontario (by Larry Delaney) Country singer Julie Lynn was born Julia Catherine FLYNN, of Irish heritage, in the Gaspe region of Quebec. She later relocated to Fort Coulonge in Western Quebec, and by her late teens was making her home in Mattawa, Ontario, where she began pursuing her career in music; first, as a member of the group Pauline Noland & Her Jamboree Pals, and later (1966) forming her own Julie Lynn Showband. The group featured Julie, her brother Bobby Flynn, Pete McCormick and Gary Spicer; the latter going on to become a member of the award-winning Family Brown group. Julie began her recording career in 1970, with the release of her album “The Nickel Song” on the […]

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