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Jake Vaadeland and The Sturgeon River Boys: Review of EMCA's Second Concert of their 50th Season

Written by: George Gibson

Photo Credits: Derrick Owen

A large crowd of music lovers were treated to no less than twenty-seven(!) songs performed by Jake Vaadeland and the Sturgeon River Boys at the last EMCA show in the Pinawa Community Centre. Jake on guitar and banjo, along with Joel on guitar, Jackson on banjo, and Stephen on stand-up bass gave that crowd exactly what they came for – old timey rockabilly bluegrass played in old timey style.

The Boys came out and started to play and then Jake strode on stage and joined right in making a quick start with Father’s Son, and without a break rolled right into I Don’t Care. So the audience had enjoyed two wonderful rockabilly toe tappers before they’d hardly taken a breath.

Jake wore a pastel blue suit that may have been last seen on Lawrence Welk with a dangly bow tie. His hair held the tin of pomade that had been combed into it and he presented a unique homey drawl – part Prince Albert Saskatchewan and part Pine Bluff Arkansas. The Boys held their own in costuming so that along with the vintage style microphones the stage had the look of a 1950s production.

Jake immediately promised the crowd ‘a whole lotta pickin’ and a singin’‘ and he and the Boys delivered. We heard eleven more tunes before the intermission including Farewell Blues with a nice banjo feature by Jackson, and Emma on a Straw Bale with an acoustic guitar solo by Joel. Be a Farmer or a Preacher was a well placed change of pace and a humorous ‘Pepsi Advertizement’ found a spot before the break.

The entire show was made of beautiful musicianship and vocals. Jake sang lead throughout but was often joined in harmony and chorus around the central mic by Joel and Jackson. Between it all Jake delivered a half dozen jokes that fit the style. Stephen proved repeatedly that he could do more than play the big bass, he could dance with it, stand on it, and run around it, all while keeping time and tone.

The second set included Foggy Mountain Special, the fine Ain’t Goin’ Back to Nashville, Better Off Duds (an actual musical jungle for a used clothing store in Saskatoon), the fun I Love Suits, and the early hit Retro Man (during which Jake stood on the bass), and eight more great songs. The appreciative audience clapped along to many and stood up en masse to call the musicians back for an encore that turned out to be Blue Suede Shoes.

This was a fun show, well presented in perfect style. Stay tuned for information on our next show, a Christmas classic with the wonderful Janelle Nadeau on November 24.

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