The Gift/A Tribute to Ian Tyson came together eight years ago when a number of Tyson's former band members and a number of bluegrass, blues and country musicians who admired the iconic singer-songwriter decided it was time to pay tribute to the longtime Alberta resident.
The show comes to the Painted Hand Casino showroom on June 30.
The initial shows were such a success that a number of promoters decided to book the ensemble, and before long The Gift had played concerts across the prairies to National Arts Centre produced shows in Ottawa.
Over the past eight years, pianist and singer Stewart MacDougall has led this ensemble through shows at rodeos, concert halls and festivals, and he was also one of the featured artists on a critically acclaimed album that grew out of the project. Not only did MacDougall sing one of his favourite Tyson songs on the album, he was part of an all-star album cast that included Gordon Lightfoot, The Good Brothers, and Blue Rodeo.
The live show cuts across all facets of Tyson's inspiring career, from his folk days with ex-wife Sylvia to his country rock era with the Great Speckled Bird. Of course there are Tyson's honky tonk classics and his cowboy culture material that focuses on favourites like Navajo Rug, Springtime In Alberta, Alberta's Child and 18 Inches of Rain. Audiences can always expect to hear wonderful interpretations of Tyson hits like Summer Wages, Someday Soon and Four Strong Winds," says Peter North, producer of The Gift.
"It is a very talented cast. Stewart is not only a fine singer, but as a songwriter his original material has been covered by Ian, k.d. lang and Randy Travis. Our drummer Thom Moon was with Ian for 17 years and still records with him and fiddler Myran Szott was with Ian for ten years. The ensemble also includes veteran bass player and singer Ron Rault and Canadian Guitar Wars winner Bobby Cameron. Their vocals are outstanding. Tyson himself loves the show and has been a surprise guest a couple of times," added North who worked with Tyson in the eighties on a syndicated Edmonton-based television show called Sun Country.
The CBC recently broadcast a performance of The Gift: A Tribute to Ian Tyson coast to coast. That show was recorded at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival last summer and guests included Corb Lund and Cindy Church.
"It's a staggering body of work that Ian has written and recorded over the years. What is so inspiring to us is that at 75 years of age he continues to write new material that is as good as anything he's done," says MacDougall who co-wrote the title track to Tyson's latest disc Yellowhead to Yellowstone.
"We're looking forward to playing the Painted Hand on our way to the Dauphin Country Fest, we've heard nothing but great things about the show, and we guarantee that Ian Tyson fans will love what we're doing," added MacDougall.
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