Special to the Observer
A man, his dog, two guitars and a van.
That sounds like the makings of a folk song, particularly as the man in question is Canadian musical icon Valdy.
A member of the Order of Canada since 2011, the multiple Juno award winner delights audiences across Canada. He is heading west on a tour that began in Courtenay, B.C. at the end of March, travelled to Killaloe in eastern Ontario and returns to British Columbia in early May.
Accompanied by his dog, Moondance Blue, and his two favourite acoustic guitars, the prolific singer-songwriter is driving his blue van from town to town and will be bringing the tour to the Word on the Lake Writers Festival, which takes place May 19 to 21 at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort in Salmon Arm.
As in other stops on the “Write a Song – Make a Fortune” tour, Valdy will perform a mix of older songs and new material. But old or new, the artist’s songs offer relief from the stresses of life and look toward better tomorrows.
“In my case, the fortune is not financial, it is what someone would wish to advance towards in their life –peace in the world, beds for the homeless, health for ill people and relief for overstretched hospitals,” he says. “I am honoured to be included in this annual event wherein the fortune is furthered by an individual impulse to make and leave a better world.”
This is what Valdy describes as his impetus to write songs as opposed to short stories.
“I want a better world, we all do, and I use music to push that viewpoint,” he says.
As well as presenting a workshop at the writer’s festival, the irrepressible musician will perform at the Saturday night gala.
“Playing music feeds my soul,” he says. “Performance is the vehicle, the cathartic way to deal with emotions and the way I would like the world to become.”
Valdy began performing with the Towne Criers, a folk group in London, Ont. in 1965, playing a borrowed Harmony Sovereign guitar.
As well as a long history of solo performances, the talented guitarist toured with Garry Fjellgaard as part of The Contenders for close to 20 years. The annual Carlin Hall performance sold out every year until the duo’s final tour in 2019, with shows that were opened by Salmon Arm artists Blu and Kelly Hopkins.
Valdy has also toured with New Zealand’s Graham Wardrop, an artist he describes as being “a brilliant guitar player and wonderful songwriter,” who builds his own instruments.
“I would love to do that again, if I can get him back to Canada.”
A member of the Saltspring Folk Club for more than 22 years, Valdy kept his guitar and voice active on home turf in the six shows the club offered between September and May. That was before Covid shut the series down and only now is there a conversation about reviving the shows.
To learn more about the 20th Anniversary Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival for all Writers and Readers, go online to wordonthelakewritersfestival.com. Earlybird registration closes on May 8.
A special festival fundraiser offers a chance to win an incredible Rocky Mountain Getaway at the Wyndham Canmore Resort in Canmore, Alta.
First prize is a one-week stay valued at $1,200 and the second prize is a weekend stay worth $500. Only 400 tickets have been printed. They are $20 each and are available from members of the Shuswap Association of Writers board and planning committee members, at Bookingham Palace in the Mall at Piccadilly and the Book Nook in Salmon Arm. The draw will take place on May 21 at the festival.