By Wes Wilson
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and memories don’t lie.
I was so fortunate to grow up in a community where music was a core part of everyday life. That was Riverton back in the sixties when I was growing up. It was a small Manitoba town that
appreciated and supported local talent. And so much talent there was. I consider it a gift to be included among the creative souls of that era.
And that’s where I found myself in 1980. I was fresh back after six years in Toronto, back in Winnipeg and among my old friends again. These home folks had given me my musical roots without knowing it and I had missed it so much while I was away. This was the musical territory where I had learned how to share the best of life with friends, family and a creative group of people who shared a love of music we all understood and appreciated. I had hatched a plan that when I came back home, I was going to do something about it.
The plan was an album called “Reunion” but it was inspired by a legendary group in the history of rock ’n’ roll.…the Everly Brothers, so I take no credit for originality. 10 years before, I had come upon their album that would have an incredible impact on me. It was called “Roots” and it was a tribute to where they came from in rural Kentucky and paid honour to their musical parents who helped direct them down their creative path.
That was the genesis for “Reunion”. In my mind, the musical story of the Riverton area had to be acknowledged and preserved in some truly respectful way. That album was the result.
In hindsight, it was a lot of work getting everyone from the Riverton music community involved so that it would turn out just right. I still remember our first meeting at the old skating rink. A lot of planning and rehearsing followed, and then it was off to the studio. So many great memories! As this was the first time in a professional recording studio for the majority of our crew, nerves were tight and you can be assured there were flasks hidden in a few guitar cases - and not all of it was government issue. In one case, there was a guitar involved that probably came directly from a living room party the night before, because a fret fell off right in the middle of the song.
But once the tape started rolling at Century 21 Studios in Winnipeg, magic was in the air.
The result honoured the great musical tradition that was Riverton and the surrounding area. It was a celebration of the home grown talent we all loved. And man did we have a good time doing it.
As Johnny Johannesson said on that Reunion album, “40 years is a long time”. Now it’s over 75 years and we’re still keeping the tradition alive.