A pair of red sneakers and a pair of cowboys boots together on the Carlin Hall stage speaks of an evening of relaxed western roots and comfortable camaraderie.
Known collectively as the Contenders, Juno Award-winner artist Valdy and Country Music Hall of Famer Gary Fjellgaard, have a long history of performing together.
The warmth of their friendship infuses the hall, making their concerts more like a house party in which everyone is happily engaged with the music and lyrics Canadians can identify with.
And this year will be no different as promoter Ken Smedley brings the lads back on another B.C. Interior tour to promote their new CD, Contenders Three, that features new songs along with their special covers of old favourites.
True troubadours, Valdy and Fjellgaard sing from a deep love for this country – songs that paint vivid images of landscapes and the people who live and work on them.
They are songs that, like the two artists, are enduring and well-loved.
“We’re the same old pair, we’re healthy and we’re travelling,” says Fjellgaard. “Like Valdy says, the music we would do for nothing, it’s the travelling and driving we want to be paid for.”
This year, Fjellgaard and Valdy’s tour is a celebration of their new CD, Contenders 3: Off The Floor.
In an Oct. 1 interview, the singer/songwriter said the pair were working hard to get the CD ready in time for the tour.
The only song left to record was Oh Tom, We Miss You, Valdy’s tribute to the late Stompin’ Tom Connors.
The CD was recorded at Woodshop Studio on Vancouver Island with Valdy and Fjellgaard simply playing songs until they were happy with them.
Fjellgaard says he and Valdy always look forward to their annual trip to Carlin Hall.
“They have some sweet songs and they’re comfortable to be with on stage, and they’re such nice people,” he says, giving kudos to Blu and Kelly Hopkins, aka Silvercreek, who bring home-cooked food for them and, this year, were instrumental in getting him involved at the Word on the Lake Writers Festival.
“Just a note to thank you for all the help at the writer’s festival,” he wrote in an email to the couple in June, calling the Silvercreek’s new CD very honest and real and, in particular, praising their cover of his song When Billy Robbed Trains.
“Your version of Billy is inspiring, I love it. Sounds like a proper folk song and will stand the test of time.”
The accolade is music to Kelly and Blu’s ears.
“It meant so much to us coming from Gary Fjellgaard,” said Kelly, noting the CD has six originals and six covers and sounds just like the two artists playing in their own living room. “Blu and I wanted to do an album that truly reflected our life – the songs we play when we sit around a fire with friends, the songs our fans ask us to play.”
The same songs they will perform at Carlin Hall.
“Having the opportunity to play with them, we have learned so much from them,” says Kelly.
The Contenders and Silvercreek perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5 at Carlin Hall in Tappen. Tickets are available at Acorn Music. Call 250-832-8669.
Next up after the for Silvercreek is a house concert in Salmon Arm on Saturday, Nov. 28.
“It will be a fun social evening with music, finger foods and fun,” Kelly says, noting the couple will debut some of the numbers they will perform in Songs of Stan Rogers, a concert they will perform in the spring at Shuswap Theatre.
To book a spot at the Nov. 28 house party, call 250-832-1956 or 250-833-4990.