Musician comes home for intimate performance

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 09:28 am

Bruce Innes & The Original Caste are bringing their folk and blues sound to the Lewis Memorial United Church in Turner Valley on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Bruce Innes & The Original Caste are bringing their folk and blues sound to the Lewis Memorial United Church in Turner Valley on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
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Used to performing for audiences of 20,000 people, one musician is looking forward to a more laid back gig on Friday.

Bruce Innes is returning to his early childhood home of Turner Valley to perform at the Lewis Memorial United Church on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

The Original Caste band mates Shelley Jones, of Edmonton, and Julian Kerr of High River, will join Innes in the three-party harmony performance.

“We like to perform in small concert halls and places like the United Church in Turner Valley,” said Innes. “It turns into a really nice concert hall.”

Since making Canada home again almost two years ago, nestled in the countryside just west of Millarville, Innes has been preferring The Original Caste’s more intimate shows in southern Alberta’s smaller communities.

“I’m really enjoying what we are doing now,” he said. “It’s really not only fun, but we are really trying to put forth some good original music.”

Innes said the small town performances offer a more intimate setting compared to the large concerts they became accustomed to when The Original Caste first hit it big.

“You really have to give 100 per cent,” he said of performances such as those at the United Church in Turner Valley. “You are not just sitting there watching them dance. Our focus is at the end of the evening to have people stand up and say that was the best evening we had in a long, long time.”

Innes is no stranger to the stage. He began performing professionally at age 11, writing music in high school and in college became a member of The Big Sky Singers in Montana.

“When I started there really wasn’t much of a music industry in Canada,” he said. “Everybody started going to the United States.”

Innes also found success in America. The Big Sky Singers released an album with Dot Records in Los Angeles and was voted “best vocal group in the nation” by a jazz magazine.

After the lead singer died two years later, Innes’ career did not slow down.

The North Country Singers was formed, which was later called the Original Caste, and their success soared with their first album and hit singles “One Tin Soldier” and “Mr. Monday.”

Their folk, blues and country tunes won high acclaims around the world. In fact, “Mr. Monday” sold 2.5 million copies in Japan.

In addition to playing with such musical acts as John Denver, Glen Campbell and The Carpenters, Innes wrote music for singers like Ray Stevens.

“I always played a little bit of country,” he said. “I was more into a bit more traditional country than what’s going on now.”

As the years progressed, things have changed in the music industry, said Innes.

“It’s harder now,” he said. “There are a few record companies but not very many. Most of the labels are really independent.”

Today, Bruce Innes & The Original Caste spend more time playing locally and are known for their contribution to the CD “100 Years of Thunder” a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede.

During his performance in Turner Valley this weekend, Innes will introduce 14-year-old pop singer and songwriter Devon Cole of Calgary who he has performed with once before.

“She is quite amazing for being so young,” he said. “I’ve been working hard to help her get along and work on her songwriting. She’s extremely talented.”

Concert organizer Elinor Melnyk said she is excited to bring Bruce Innes & The Original Caste to the United Church again following the success of last fall’s concert.

“We thought we would have him again because we enjoyed his last concert so much,” she said. “We like to support local talent.”

Having attended The Original Caste’s performance last fall, Melnyk found his folk and blues music easy to listen to.

“He had a fantastic pianist and the vocalists were really good, too,” she said, adding she is also looking forward to a performance by young Cole.

Melnyk said the United Church hosts three to four concerts a year to raise money for the church.

“It always gives everyone a real lift, a positive feeling,” she said of the church’s concerts. “When you are at a concert it’s like a sense of community.”

Tickets for Bruce Innes & The Original Caste are available in advance at Coyote Moon in Turner Valley, Blue Rock Gallery in Black Diamond, Boot Hill Gallery in Okotoks or by calling 933-2167 at a cost of $20 each. Tickets are also available at the door.


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