By Ed Stozek
For the Herald
Television, the radio and a collection of vinyl records provided an avenue of escape from the relatively uneventful life of living on a farm.
Watching the Beatles and a host of other popular musical acts on The Ed Sullivan Show sparked an interest to see entertainers in my adult years at “live” concert settings.
With a seating capacity for 1,684 patrons, the Western Manitoba Centennial auditorium was an excellent venue for popular entertainers passing through Brandon.
My first visit to the auditorium occurred in 1970 when the newly-opened facility was used to host the freshmen students attending university for that school year. We spent several hours listening to speakers welcoming and informing us of campus-related activities.
One of the first concerts that I attended at the auditorium featured the First Edition with lead singer and bass player Kenny Rogers. The set list included their hits, “Just Dropped In To See What Condition I Was In” and “Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town.”
When the band broke up in 1975 Kenny Rogers launched a very successful solo career with over 20 number one hits. “You got to know how to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run.”
At another concert, Bruce Cockburn performed as a solo artist. His guitar playing and singing were amazing. For an encore he played one of my favourite songs, “One Day I Walk.”
After the concert it was time to rush to my dorm room and try to figure out the guitar chords. My friends and I later discussed the concert highlights including the lyrics, “One day I walk in flowers, one day I walk on stones, today I walk in hours, one day I shall be home.” That song was later covered by various recording artists including Anne Murray, The Rankins, and K.D. Lang.
Formed in 1968 the rock band, Lighthouse, put on a great show playing their hits “One Fine Morning”, “Sunny Days” and “1849.” One of my classmates and I later used “1849” as part of a presentation for an Education class showing how songs could be utilized to enhance history lessons. “They came for gold in 1849. Sixty-one wagons, two miles long in a line.”
Lighthouse, winners of several Juno awards, included 11 musicians and featured horns and string instruments. Some of the group members were familiar as they had previously appeared as house musicians on Let’s Go, a teen show that I had watched in 1964-65.
Many years later, Janice and I enjoyed attending the Minot State Fair and its great line-up of entertainers.
Two concerts still remain as favourites. Willie Nelson played a one-hour show. The thunderous applause brought him back for a 60-minute encore that included one of my all-time favourite songs, “Always On My Mind.” Along with the band, his sister Bobbi accompanied him on the grand piano. In 1982-83 the song garnered several Grammy Awards including song and album of the year. Throughout the concert my binoculars were focused on Willie’s famous Martin guitar and his unique playing style. He named his guitar after Roy Roger’s horse, Trigger.
Once our sons Warren and Troy got older, they also attended the fair. Along with spending the day doing the usual kid’s activities, we purchased tickets for the Garth Brooks concert. Released in 1990 on the No Fences album, “Friends in Low Places” and “The Thunder Rolls” were his early hits. Brooks put on a great show and as he started singing “There’s a storm movin’ in, he’s headin’ back from somewhere, that he never should have been, and the thunder rolls,” a storm rolled through Minot. Amid the thunder and lightning Brooks finished the set.
Troy recently recalled, “I remember feeling so small and awestruck by the enormity of the event. It seemed big but that was likely because I was so little and the crowds were a new thing to my small-town boy world. I remember an actual thunder storm rolling in as he played ‘Thunder Rolls’.”
Many years later, I have many memories from attending concerts at various venues. They are still “Always On My Mind.”