The Blue Moose will host Canadian music legends Paul Valdemar Horsdal (Valdy) and Gary Fjellgaard, playing together Dec. 7 as The Contenders.
“We will be infusing our sets with Christmas songs, old and new, blending both duo and solo with our older material and recent songs,” Horsdal stated in an email. The gig in Hope is one of only two stops on a short tour the Contenders have planned for this weekend.
Both Horsdal and Fjellgaard have performed around the world, on their own and as part of the guitar-toting, singing duo. It’s a good deal for the Hope audience, who get to hear each of the legends perform some of their own songs and then come together to perform some tunes from the three albums they have done together.
“We sort of have three shows in one. We each have individual solo careers, so Valdy does some songs on his own and I do some songs on my own, and then together,” Fjellgaard said.
Valdy, who has been touring solo since 1970, is the winner of two Junos including Outstanding Performance of the Year in 1973 and Folksinger of the Year in 1974, as well as 12 more nominations. Valdy also became a member of the Order of Canada in 2011.
Fjellgaard is well known in the country music world, with awards including the 1989 Canadian Country Music Awards Male Artist of the Year and a 1993 Juno for Best Country Male Vocalist. In 2005, Fjellgaard was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
What began as a tour in support of the George Ryga Centre in Summerland stretched into 17 tours up and down the Okanagan Valley. The centre has since closed, but Valdy said The Contenders “tour to support his legacy as an influential playwright, author and poet.”
The different genres the two musicians come from is one of the main reasons why they’ve been playing together for so long, Fjellgaard said.
“That’s what’s beautiful about the setup, the arrangement. We’re like Oscar and Felix (of) the Odd Couple. That’s sort of what we’re like. It’s the contrasting styles. Valdy is more from the folk tradition and I’m more…Western roots,” he said.
There’s only once a year where Christmas music can be shared and Fjellgaard said the duo plan to make the most of it.
“We both have original Christmas music and we’ll certainly be sharing that. I wrote a song called Christmas on the Coast — we share it, on stage, together and it’s quite a neat little production,” Fjellgaard said. “There’s only one time a year you get a chance to do your Christmas songs. You sort of have to relearn them.”
A show at the Blue Moose is a given, Valdy said, as the venue remains “a regular stop for most touring professionals heading east from the left coast.” The soup and coffee are also regular treats, says the Canadian folk legend.
Is there more to this story?