By Rod Palson
To say that Riverton is unique when it comes to music, would be a serious understatement. The proper adjective would be...unmatched.
Sure...every small town in the country has its share of music. But, not Riverton Music. It’s different here. It’s a unique sound. And it’s a passion.
Back in the day, the living room became the stage. When the bar closed, the mandatory accompaniment to a case or two of beer was equal parts guitar...and soon the party would rip into action. The sing-songs would go all night, and often times until the next morning.
It all got started with the Musical Mates and it just carried on through the generations. The sound of the violins, and the old time arrangements still ring loud and clear to this day.
It was the driving force behind the very first Riverton Hootenanny in the early 60’s.
It was the passion that influenced people like singer-songwriter Solli Sigurdson. It was a style that inspired the singing barber, Dennis Olson...along with his strumming partner, the late Lloyd Gudmundson and his bother Roy, who has lived on to become the singing legend who never left his hometown.
Cliff Lindstrom was another. Cliff travelled far and wide as a performer and band member, but eventually settled back to his roots, joining Roy, along with Laugi Johannesson of Musical Mates fame and Laugi’s nephew Dick Johnson in an award-winning band called Fine Country Folk. A couple of off-shoots from FCF included the next generation of performers including the highly successful Fine Country Kids, who made traditional Icelandic favourites a big part of their repertoire.
And there were many more. The Oleson Brothers, Brian and Fred. Wes Wilson of Hnausa still makes an enormous impact, to this day. The singing Sigurdson sisters (Brenda Fulsher and Lana Blampy) have made a lifetime commitment to preserving the musical passion of their Amma Daisy. Gisli Eastman of Howardville strutted his West Texas style for decades. Laura (Dahlman) McLeod transitioned from a classically-trained soloist to a prominent member of the Hootenanny cast. And the beat went on...and on....
The Riverton music mystique even attracted some southerners. Lorne Martin from Husavik, and Gord Stefanson of Gimli both became mainstays of dozens upon dozens of shows and dances over the years.
And right now, perhaps the most exciting renaissance of all is taking place with another edition of third generation Johannessons taking the stage, the most prominent of which being a band called Homebrew Line. They, along with several cousins within the family conglomerate are starting to forge a name for themselves, with talent to burn – all of them!
I feel blessed to have been on stage with this group as their emcee, many times over.
Special times. Special people.
(My apologies for any names I have missed - the old memory ain't what it used to be!)