The Lethbridge Folk Club begins its season on Sept. 15 with a special performance by folk singer Garnet Rogers, the younger brother of Stan Rogers, who penned “Northwest Passage” among other hits before passing away in 1983 in an accident in an airplane fire at the young age of 33.
“Hopefully we’ll sell some more tickets. We’ve sold 58, but we‘d like to sell 150,” said Lethbridge Folk Club president Morris Soenen, adding they have a diverse season planned including plenty of local acts, who will all be at the Lethbridge College Cave.
“Garnet’s played here many times, but it has been a few years. And we have Connie Kaldor on Oct. 15. She’s also played Lethbridge many times.”
Rogers is enjoying spending time with his wife in semi-retirement and is looking at this Western tour as likely his last.
“It’s a chance to say goodbye and shake hands and apologize to everybody I’ve offended,” said Rogers, running a few errands at home.
“I must have played Lethbridge about 20 times, but it‘s been 10 or 12 years,” he observed.
“I’ve just been playing around Ontario for the past two or three years,” he said.
He has been busy, not only playing, but also writing an extensive memoir about touring with his brother Stan.
“Before writing any new music, I embarked on another writing project — a 700-page book called ‘Night Drive Travels With my Brother’ about touring with Stan,” he said.
“People have their own ideas of who Stan was. I wanted to write the story of about life touring — encounters with the lunatic fringe, police, bikers. It’s the definitive story,” he said.
“Because back then, when we were playing bars, people expected to hear songs they knew. Stan was determined to play original music,” he said, noting that led to the occasional conflict.
“Stan was a large guy and I was smaller, but we had a lot of fear. That led to a lot of aggression. But Stan and I always tried to do good,” he said.
He noted they found their audience in Western Canadian folk clubs.
“We started to play folk clubs where people were there to listen to us, which was different than playing all of those bars,” he observed.
“We always put on a show instead of people just staring at their feet and playing. I’d rather engage the audience and put myself out there,” he continued.
He enjoyed writing the book.
“As I was writing it, I was giggling so much,” he said.
Rogers said he is looking forward to returning to Lethbridge, but has no set planned.
“It will just be me. I have no plan. I have 60-70 songs to choose from,” he said.
“I just love to play for people and appreciate when people come out,” he continued. He has fond memories of playing with his brother.
“We were a team for five years together,” he said, adding they both drew from different influences, though they listened to the same records growing up together.
“I always felt we were great partners, though Stan liked more east coast folk traditional music,” he said.
“I had to find a different musical path. Our styles were so different,” he said, noting he has released 15 of his own albums since his brother passed away.
He is glad to return to Western Canada.
“The older I get, the harder the trips get. But it is important for me to get out and see people, and see the fans and play for them,” he said.
Soenen is excited about the rest of the Folk Club’s season.
Local jazz/folk/rock band the Junkman’s Quire play the Cave, Nov. 25. The Folk Club takes December off, and return with Calgary-based rockabilly band, Jan. 13.
“They play ’50s and ’60s rock and roll that’s pretty good,” Soenen said.
Bluegrass band the Bix Mix Boys return to the Folk Club on Feb. 10.
“They played the Wolf’s Den, so it has been six, seven or eight years,“ he continued, adding they are still working on shows for March, but Juno-nominated bluesman Ken Whiteley plays on April 14.
“The first two shows are on Sundays, but the others are on Saturday,” Soenen said, adding Lethbridge Folk Club open mics have started. They are in the Casa community room on the first Friday of every month at 7 p.m. until around 9:30 p.m.
Tickets for Lethbridge Folk Club shows are $25 for members, $30 for non-members including a membership for the season, and $15 and $20 for students.