By June Norvila
Bentley’s own country music legend Dick Damron, considered by many to be Canada’s pioneer and father of country music, is being honoured and recognized for his lifetime contribution to country music over the past 50 years, but he had no idea it would grow into such a huge project.
“I am overwhelmed by it all,” he remarked, “And there is a lot to be done yet.”
A special live concert titled Countrified will take place at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino in Calgary on Saturday, Oct. 3. Crews will be filming the live concert to be aired as a CBC special at a later date.
It has been a different kind of summer for Damron this year as he has been drawn into a lot of the writing for the show after becoming the best source of information available. He has been working steadily on the project between the regular engagements he usually does while in central Alberta for the summer, and he hopes his energy will hold up as the date draws closer.
Damron was first approached by producers about production of a show back in March while still in Mexico when they wanted to pick a possible date and location and make sure he could attend.
He first became actively involved in the production by choosing selections for the artists to do, but it has gone far beyond that.
“I didn’t expect to be involved in the day-to-day logistics of it. I was somewhere between undecided and overwhelmed to be involved in such a big project, but it will be more factual coming directly from me. I know many of the artists and musicians personally, and I know who did what songs,” Damron stated.
He admits rediscovering his own history has had its trials and seems a bit peculiar.
“All my music has been a huge part of my life,” the 75-year-old said. “The rediscovery brings back old feelings and emotions. Each door that I open, opens many more other doors.”
In 1958 Damron released his first record Gonna Have a Party. 1964 saw Damron’s first number one recording Hitch Hikin, but his international hit Countrified in 1970 was what moved him up into a different league he feels. Many more hits followed, and many were released by other artists.
Canada’s Legendary Country Music Gentleman Outlaw, so dubbed on his web site, has won almost every Canadian Country Music Award, and is a Canadian and International Country Music Hall of Fame inductee.
The concert’s master of ceremonies will be Brett Wilson from the CBC Dragon’s Den TV show. There will be lots of big names in attendance and performing including Charley Pride, Ronnie Prophet, Carroll Baker, George Hamilton IV, The Good Brothers, Gary Fjellgaard, Glory Anne Carriere, Joan Kennedy, Michelle Wright, Patricia Conroy, Julian Austin, Beverley Mahood and many other celebrities and dignitaries.
A Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alberta Country Music Association will be presented, as well as a new award, the Damron Award, recognizing a new up and coming country music artist.
“I was amazed that everybody (musicians and artists) was overjoyed (to come). It is all being done unselfishly and not just trying to raise a bunch of money. I guess it is a tribute to me and my music, and it is very humbling and overwhelming,” Damron admits.
Summing up his music career, “I have nothing left to prove,” he says. “I have done it all.”