The Quest For Real Country Music

Archive for January, 2016

The Mammoths of Kyle, Saskatchewan

January 4th 2016 11:56 am

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On a fall day in 1964, amidst road construction 5 km outside the rural village of Kyle, Saskatchewan, a scraper blade unearthed what was to be a major historical discovery. As the southwest corner of the province boasts home to fossils ranging back 70 million years; the “recent” hunting by the Paleo-indians on the Great Plains aged Wally the Wooly Mammoth at 12,000 years old – a young’un. Call on Don Foulds, a Saskatoon based sculptor, to commemorate the findings with a big ol cement Mammuthus in Kinsmen Park at the north end of town (budding a new branch in his career and since erecting The Indian Head in Indian Head, The Turtle in Turtleford, The Moose in Moose Jaw, and The Giant Squid in Glover’s Harbour – well done Donny, well done.)

But it seems Kyle needed more wooly, loveable characters. And who doesn’t love one, that again, could kick your ass. Under the supervision of the iconic Stu Hart (father to Owen and Bret “Hitman” Hart), Stampede Wrestling saw it’s end in 1984 after falling victim to a full on riot at Ogden Auditorium in Calgary, Alberta a year previous. Stampede Wrestling was sold to the World Wrestling Federation and Bret became my idol. But the town of Kyle was brewing up a new champ and with the resurrection of the Stampede brand in 1999, Danny Hannouch entered the entertainment world as Saddam (or Soddam) Insane. Suplexing his way into the formation of The Baghdad Bullies with TNT, they went on to win the NWS Tag Team Championship in 2006. Somebody ring up Donny and clear a space in Kinsmen Park.

Yet again, Kyle has a way of producing Titans. Maybe it’s the distinct amounts of magnesium and iron in underground water sources or possible astrological significance to it’s geographical coordinates (50.8317° N, 108.0374° W) – but none the less – lovable, wooly mammoths.

A three-year-old’s constant begging for a guitar found David Lewis in-front of a bandsaw shaping the instrument out of a quarter-inch piece of plywood. The four tuning pegs would technically make Bryce Lewis’ first axe that of a tenor, fully equipped with fish-wire strings and yellow wood paint finish. Through a progression of beginner guitars and an old Harmony six string found in the back of the Kyle Community Hall, Bryce found his groove in a red Mexican-Tele; learning every lick on Marty Stuart’s Marty Party Hit Pack and studying the phrasings of Redd Volkaert…learning, studying…paying homage, stealing. Executing his newfound chops at every afternoon weekend jam from Turner Valley, Longview and Black Diamond, Alberta to the long-running Ranchman’s jam in Calgary. Stan’s Place in Saskatoon toughened him up and rural Saskatchewan touring refined him.

In an act of desperation, being left high and dry in the lead guitarist department a week prior to a marathon rodeo cabaret in 2012, I took to the Twitter committing to hire any guitarist that simply replied to the tweet. Quickly introduced to Bryce a year prior after a show with Corb Lund in Swift Current, our reacquaintance came in the form of the reply I was looking for – “I can play the guitar” popping up on my Twitter feed notifications.

“Do you have anything I can listen to?”

“Nope”

“But you can play, right?”

“Kinda”

“Alright kid, you got the gig. 40 songs, 5 days. See you Saturday”

Call it what you want but my career direction took a turn on June 23, 2012. Bryce slayed every lick in the book. Played the fiddle lines and pedal steel whines. The lack of B-bender didn’t stop the melodies it wrote. He killed it. The Vultures line-up was complete.

Bryce (or better known as Bruce among friends and family) is tip-toeing his way into the spotlight with a series of instrumental pieces performed live a Sawchyn Guitars in Regina, SK. We were lucky enough to have him open up for Belle and Myself this past December and he will be sharing the stage with Ryan Hicks on Tuesday, January 5th at O’Hanlon’s in Regina. It’ll be a flash-bang 20 minuter but jam packed with interpretations and original compositions in the style of Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, and Redd Volkaert.

Heads up. Bruce on the Loose.