Dynamic duo ready for the stage
Music: Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard returning to Okotoks for sold-out concert Feb. 17
Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017 10:58 am
Despite having their own unique sound, two west coast Juno Award-winning musicians immediately click when on stage together.
For more than 15 years, singer/songwriters Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard have been combining their musical forces to produce a sound that’s pleasing to their audiences.
The fact that the two are enjoying themselves only enhances the show.
“It’s not always for the money or we would be going out by ourselves,” said Valdy. “It’s seeing the smiles in the audience. People who come to the show generally walk away with a comfortable and friendly buzz from it.”
The duo is returning to Okotoks to perform an already sold-out concert at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
They played in town last during the launch of the newly-renovated arts centre in 2012.
“People get three different acts when they hear us,” Valdy said. “They get Gary and I together, then Gary does a solo set and I do a solo set. We make fun of each other and have fun with each other.”
Fjellgaard is known for his country ballads about cattle drives, wagon treks and country living while Valdy delves into a variety of genres.
“He’s a cowboy singer and I’m a folk singer,” said Valdy. “As a folk singer I get to play anything. I do some rock, rhythm and blues, I even have a couple of rap songs. Folk music is a very broad brush. I take advantage of that.”
Valdy, popularly known for his Rock and Roll Song, has been part of the fabric of Canadian pop and folk music for three decades, winning two Juno Awards during his career.
“We don’t have huge aspirations of being great singers or guitarists, but we blend well together,” he said. “I think that Gary keeps my socks up because he’s very good at what he does and he takes great pride in what he does. Not that I don’t, but I get distracted sometimes.”
Valdy said when the musicians get their voices together, anything can happen.
“We invert sometimes,” he said. “He will be singing along with me doing a high part and then it will invert and I will go under Gary on occasion. The blend is not always the same. It gives a bit more musical variety.”
While Valdy and Fjellgaard have released numerous albums independently, they collaborated for Contenders in 2000 and Contenders Two: Still in the Running in 2007.
While much of their music together boasts a country sound, Valdy said they also offer some variety when the two perform alongside one another.
For instance, the song River Stay Away from My Door is a swing tune, derived from the 1930s song about the Great Depression.
“I guess you could say we do diverge a little bit as a duo,” said Valdy. “We are doing things that we enjoy and we think people will enjoy. There is not a menu or an agenda made up specifically to please a particular genre of music listeners. We are not all over the map, but we cover a fair bit of territory.”
The older of the two, 79-year-old Fjellgaard is a cowboy at heart, having spent a large portion of his childhood on the back of a horse.
His own musical success includes 15 albums. He chartered 35 songs on the RPM Country Tracks with six top 10 singles in 20 years. In 2005, Fjellgaard was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
While he’s garnered music success on his own, Fjellgaard never misses an opportunity to get on stage with his old pal Valdy.
“It’s a lot of fun and great working with that guy,” he said. “We will do the same venues again and again and we keep getting more people. We do about 30 dates together during the year.”
With an 80th birthday coming up this year, Fjellgaard said he’s got eight years on Valdy and is finding it challenging keeping up to his musical buddy. But he’s having too much fun to stop now.
“It’s a delight - I think it’s the reason I’m hanging in there as long as I am,” he said. “I’ve been touring over 40 years and so has Valdy. As long as it’s fun we just keep doing it. You never know what’s going to happen. I even started dragging out the electric guitar on stage, which is different for us instead of two acoustics all the time. It adds a nice flavour.”
Despite having performed hundreds of concerts together, it never gets dull.
“I don’t think we’ve ever done the same show twice,” Fjellgaard said. “We have the songs that we do, but as far as the ad-lib and the banter between the two of us who knows, that’s all up for grabs.”