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!
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
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
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.