The Vegreville Station Cafe in collaboration with Perogies and Jam, was pleased to present Canadian singer-songwriter Canadian Country Music Hall of Famer and Canadian Music Icon, Gary Fjellgaard on Wednesday, April 18. Along with Gary, were his songwriting musician friends Saskia and Darrell de la Ronde who are also outstanding musicians, and previously performed at the Vegreville Train Station last fall. Both Gary and Darrell were born in Saskatchewan, Saskia was born in Holland and moved to Canada as a teenager, and their combined passion for the prairies was evident throughout their performance and their many recordings.
To the delight of the dinner audience, opening the evening was local young singer-songwriter Leeland Bachelet. Leeland was gushing with enthusiasm to be the opening act for Gary, as it was his local violin teacher’s (Heather Soldan of the Fiddlin’ Kiddlins) father Dave Bowman who played in a band with Gary Fjellgaard in Prince George many years ago. Backing up Leeland this evening was guitarist, Bob Williams, from Irma who has assisted Leeland many times in performances over the past four years in east Central Alberta performances.
Gary started the performance set with three of his popular prairie oriented songs, “The Falcon and the Cowboy”, “When the Winter Turns to Spring”, and “I Don’t Have any Heroes Anymore”. Gary invited Saskia and Darrell to the stage to join him for several of their own songs including “Rodeo” (which included yodelling by Saskia and Gary), “A War Bride”, “Spring Day in Holland” and “The Porch Light”. Saskia and Darrell continued on with the set with several songs including “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, “Laura’s Kitchen” and “Train of Dreams”.
After a short intermission, Gary returned to the stage with Saskia and Darrell and in between songs, we learned that Gary was born in East Central Saskatchewan (Rose Valley) of Norwegian descent and Darrell was born on a farm in Mont Nebo (about an hour west of Prince Albert). Gary’s musical roots developed in Prince George, BC while working in the logging industry, as a prelude to performing full time starting in 1970. Gary and his wife Lynn (constant companion and assisting with CD sales), are celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary this year. All currently live on Vancouver Island, and often travel together performing their captivating folk and county music style to appreciative audiences across western Canada, and the occasional trip to Europe.
The music continued to flow well into the evening and included “Would You Dance with this Old Cowboy”, “Plaiseur D’Amour” and Those Memories” (of Dolly Parton fame), and the outlaw “Billy Miner”. After their last song “Last Harrah”, the audience rose to a standing ovation, and in response the evening closed with the song “Islanders We’ll Always Be”.
Perogies and Jam embraces and encourages local musical talent and is thrilled to have the stature of such Canadian musicians as Gary Fjellgaard, and Saskia and Darrell come to Vegreville and feel so welcome. We look forward to their returning again in the near future.
Images courtesy of Rob Hughes.