The tribute show features Loretta Lynn, Rob Orbison, Patsy Cline, Lefty Frizzell, Shania Twain, Elvis Presley, Crystal Gale and Buddy Holly
The Louisiana Hayride Show, a concert by classic country greats, is set to return to the Arden Theater with some of the biggest hits from the catalog.
The tribute show recreates the nostalgic music of icons such as Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, Loretta Lynn, Lefty Frizzell, Buck Owens, Crystal Gale and Elvis. Now in its 10th year, the Hayride has grown to feature pop-country artist Shania Twain and rock and roll singer Buddy Holly.
A precursor to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, The Louisiana Hayride was a classic country radio show that ran from 1948 to 1960. Broadcast from Shreveport, Louisiana, it launched the careers of many country music unknowns, including Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Willie Nelson. .
Additionally, cross-genre singing sensation Elvis Presley appeared at the Hayride in the mid-1950s. The popular phrase “Elvis left the building” was coined when it was last performed in 1956.
“It was said by emcee Horace Logan who was trying to control the screaming teenage girls. He said it after Elvis left the stage. He wanted the girls to stay in the audience instead of chasing Elvis,” said Lori Risling, creator, writer and host of the tribute show.
She formed The Louisiana Hayride Show in an unexpected twist of fate. In 2009, Risling developed breast cancer.
“I had chemo and with it a lot of downtime. I had always wanted to write a country music show and I thought, ‘Why not? I did my research and found The Louisiana Hayride. Nobody knew what it was, but I was determined. It was the perfect umbrella with so many artists and no one else was doing it,” said Risling, a former music columnist.
One of the factors that caught his attention was the radio schedule that welcomed new artists and new musical innovations that the staunch traditionalists of the Grand Ole Opry refused to consider. While the Opry only featured recording artists, the Hayride often spotlighted up-and-coming artists who had yet to find an audience.
And while the Opry banned electric guitars, Hayride welcomed the stringed instrument. His influence and ubiquity eventually transformed “hillbilly music” into a new form called rock and roll that eventually spread across the world.
Risling chose singers and musicians from across western Canada. They are Andrea Anderson (Patsy Cline, Crystal Gale, Loretta Lynn, Shania), Derek Pulliam (Lefty Frizzell, Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard) and St. Albert singer Vic de Sousa (Elvis, Buddy Holly).
Electric guitarist/banjo player Gil Risling sings several interlude pieces such as Sonny James’s young love and Roy Orbison Only the lonely Tears, and A pretty woman. Steel guitarist Tyler Allen and drummer Jon Plett provide backup support.
De Sousa, who replaced Adam Fitzpatrick as Elvis in 2014, sings music from the King’s early years – Its good, love me tenderly, and Hunting dog.
“Vic has great audience appeal. There is something about him that is very inviting. He has cool suit jackets, the look, moves, inflections and gestures. He even says the funny things that Elvis said. He recreates Elvis as faithfully as possible.
At first glance, Buddy Holly’s rock and roll interpretation of de Sousa Peggy sweats, Everyday, and It will be the day seems like a strange addition.
“I wanted something different, but something that could still relate to Hayride. Buddy influenced Elvis and there was enough connection to add him.
Singer Andrea Anderson, originally from Lake Country, British Columbia, was discovered by chance.
“I was a DJ at private parties. At a party, a guy asked if this girl could ride. Most people don’t sing very well, but I said, ‘Sure.’ She arrives and chooses a song. She starts singing and it was ‘Oh, my God. The girl can sing. I wanted a Patsy Cline, but I had none. She said ‘yes’, without knowing what she was saying, ‘yes’, and that was 12 years ago,” Risling said. She attributes Anderson’s longevity to a wide vocal range as well as her ability to adapt to any musical genre.
Although few country fans today recognize the name Lefty Frizzell, Derek Pulliam pays tribute to the singer-musician who changed the sound of country.
“Before Lefty, country music sounded jerky. He smoothed everything out and stretched the vowels. He found a sound that everyone liked. He was the pioneer of new music and many people imitated him, even Roy Orbison in his early days.
The Louisiana Hayride Show will take place on Tuesday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. The Arden Theater is located at 5, rue Sainte-Anne. Tickets are $45 at 780-459-1542 or online at www.stalbert.ca/exp/arden.