The descendents of Johnny and his Musical Mates, along with surviving member Sella Benedictson, pose with the new sign.
Johnny and his Musical Mates legacy lives on
By Jay Boaz
Originally published in the Interlake Enterprise July 5, 2017
Next to Reggie Leach, Riverton may be best known for the musical legacy of Johnny and his Musical Mates. The families of the band ensured that legacy continues with the unveiling of a new highway sign informing visitors to Riverton of the hometown legends.
An informal ceremony was held at the site of the new sign, just south of Riverton on the east side of Highway #8, where nearly 100 family, friends, and sole surviving Mates member Sella Benedictson gathered for the reveal. A lot of discussion and work went into the final design that was chosen. “The Johannesson family felt the sign needed to send a message not only about the Musical Mates and the orchestra, but also celebrate the broader meaning of the group to the community and to music period in this area,” said emcee Rod Palson.
Mitch Johnson brought greetings on behalf of the families. “When we decided to redo the sign and the website we had a fundraising concert, and in one night we raised $4500 towards the project,” said Johnson. He added the previous sign recognizing the Mates will not be discarded, rather it will find a home at the recently opened Hnausa General Store.
In addition to the sign the launching of a website about the group was announced, with the web address www.musicalmates.ca displayed prominently on the sign. “It’s still a work in progress but we’re going to be adding more music, so if you don’t have a turntable anymore you can go and listen to the songs, as well as read some stories about the band,” said Palson. “It’s a wonderful way to commemorate the legend that is Johnny and his Musical Mates.”