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Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard - The Contenders - A Review

Joining forces and having fun

An interview article and review by Rosemary Phillips, 1999 - and still relevant today!
They now have three CDs together and still tour.
Do take in their show when they come to your neighbourhood - you'll be glad you did!

Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard
Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard
Take Canada's folk troubadour, Valdy, and mix him with Canada's country singer Gary Fjellgaard, and you get The Contenders, a blending of harmonies, lyrics, humour and guitars. Fans of both performers packed Nanoose Place on February 5th to experience this unique combination. What they got was an evening full of stories, jokes, favourite songs that touched the heart or brought the hands together to clap in rhythm, and new songs which proved that bringing these two talents together can be pure magic.

Already, since they began performing together this last month, the duo have been playing to sold out houses from BC to Saskatchewan. Nanoose Place was fortunate enough to catch them as they returned to the Island before heading back out to Ontario.

Valdy and Fjellgaard opened this show with a couple of numbers from their new CD “The Contenders”. Their voices are a true complement. As they sang, Valdy bounced around in his trade mark red sneakers and Fjellgaard stood relaxed-country in his blues and denims. While they bantered back and forth Valdy tossed a coin to determine who was to be the opening act and who was the main attraction.

"It's like three shows in one," explained Fjellgaard later. "It gives a variety to the performance that you don't get with just one artist."

And variety there was. Fjellgaard delighted the audience with his gentle vocals, riveting yodeling, and tales of his life in the woods, his "chainsaw stories", and adventures that influenced lyrics for such songs as “Wild Wide River”, “Western Skies”, and “Rock and Roll Dreams”. As he began the guitar intro for “Somewhere on the Island” the audience burst into applause. He closed his set with two new unrecorded songs, “Dancing in the Grass”, and a beautiful gentle ballad, “Hidden Valley”.

Valdy opened his set with “An Islander”, followed by a new song about Rosie the cow, written in an attempt to win free tickets to the Legends performance at GM Place last year. (You have to hear the story!) What followed were some of Valdy's best loved songs - “Sony's Dream”, and “Rock and Roll Song”, and newer ones such as “Wonderland”, “Give Back the Rookery”, “Earth Rap”, and “Hard Rain” which was written for the benefit for the ice-storm victims in Ontario. A real treat and twist was to hear Valdy do “True Love”, an old Bing Crosby tune.
By the time the two closed the show with “Islander”, written by Fjellgaard, the audience was on its feet yelling for more. And more they got.

"By joining forces we can make more music, and have more fun," said Valdy after the show. "We recommend other performers get together in collaboration. It's a very relaxing way to perform and it gives us another chance to keep going in a very tough business."

And relaxed they were. They had the audience captivated and involved, and judging by all the smiles at the end of the show, and the long line up for autographs, the duo are a huge success.

For information on Valdy visit Valdy's web site.
Visit Gary Fjellgaard's web site for more information on Gary's music, etc.

NOTE: There are many more articles on this site about great musicians and artists - see Index of Articles.

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