Dekker Centre season lineup promises variety

As per the Dekker Centre’s mandate, Moe McGuinty brings a number of different acts to the performing arts centre each season representing a number of different genres. The musical variety, especially within rock music, reflects the times.

“In the old days when I was in my prime, if you put 10 guys around a table and said, ‘Who’s your favourite band’ you’d have about three different bands,” McGuinty said. “If you put 10 guys around a table now, you’re going to get 10 different answers. Three of the 10 aren’t going to say ‘Arcade Fire,’ it just isn’t happening.”  

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The 2017-18 lineup of mainstage shows features 15 acts performing rock, country, pop, folk and classical. And, of course, Christmas music. McGuinty said this year, the Dekker Centre is selling tickets to certain shows in three different series: a classical/jazz series for $100, a country series for $135, and a rock series for $150. Each series features four different shows of performers of the respective genres.

The mainstage season kicks off with The Wilkinsons on Aug. 30 and concludes with country pop singer Wes Mack on June 14, 2018. A Canadian patriotic musical show called Oh, Canada, We Sing For Thee will be on Sept. 14, followed by the alt-country/folk of The Brothers Landreth on Oct. 7, Scottish-Canadian guitarist Tony McManus on Oct. 19, jazz ensemble the Heillig Manoeuvre on Nov. 4, blues-rockers The Legendary Downchild on Nov. 7, the Battlefords Blend Harmony Chorus on Nov. 19, and Saskatoon’s The Northern Pikes on Nov. 24 before Christmas season begins.

Shows that align with McGuinty’s personal music preferences are in the season’s first half. A folk singer himself, McGuinty said he’d “crawl across broken glass” to see the Brothers Landreth, who Bonnie Raitt has said are currently one of her favourite acts. Henry Heillig, who plays bass with the Heillig Manoeuvre, played with McGuinty in the seventies, while McGuinty said the wild stories and influence of the Blues Brothers movie make him want to see the Legendary Downchild, an incarnation of the Downchild Blues Band. 

About seeing Legendary Downchild, McGuinty said “you gotta.”

The Christmas season will feature a locally-organized Candlelight Processional in late November, Celtic Tenors on Dec. 3, a four-man Frankie Valli tribute on Dec. 6, and the Juno-award winning Sultans of String four days before Christmas. 

Classical music kicks off the new year, as Quartetto Gelato and the University of Saskatchewan Woodwind Orchestra and College Ensemble perform in late January. Feb. 10 will see pop rocker Royal Wood, and the season’s mainstage lineup closes with the four shows making up the country/roots series. In addition to Wes Mack, a Hank Williams impersonator will be in town Feb. 24, fiddler Gordie MacKeeman and his backing band the Rhythm Boys will perform April 15, and Sean McCann, formerly of Great Big Sea, will be onstage May 4.  

Along with a Hank Williams impersonator, an Elvis impersonator will be in town later this year on Sept. 30, while David James and Big River will play Johnny Cash’s classics on Nov. 10. 

Prices of individual shows range from $28 to $56, not including Wintersong, which features local children’s choirs.  

McGuinty said North Battleford’s location between Saskatoon and Edmonton allows the Dekker Centre to attract talent passing through.

“Geographically we’re nicely positioned and you can’t underestimate that,” McGuinty said. “There’s a huge difference between going from Saskatoon to Edmonton, or Saskatoon to Calgary, than Saskatoon to North Battleford. An hour and a half is a day off. When you play in Saskatoon last night and here tonight, that’s when you do your laundry because you’re not in the car for eight hours.”

A number of other events are taking place on the Dekker Centre’s Gordon Tootoosis Memorial Stage throughout the season, especially local performances. 

McGuinty explained this year’s series format. 

“One of the main reasons of the thinking behind these miniseries is ‘I gotcha to come four times a year,’” McGuinty said. “It might start turning into a more natural thing for you to do.”

If an act within a series doesn’t appeal to audiences, McGuinty said he isn’t worried. 

“Everybody has a weird brother-in-law.”

Keep an eye on the News-Optimist for previews, reviews and photos of this season’s shows.

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