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Louisiana Hayride to pay tribute to country music greats at Arden

Tribute show features Loretta Lynn, Rob Orbison, Patsy Cline, Lefty Frizzell, Shania Twain, Elvis Presley, Crystal Gale, and Buddy Holly
1603 Louisianna Hayride sup CC
After a two-year hiatus, The Louisianna Hayride — featuring R-L Gil Risling (left), Andrea Anderson, Vic de Sousa, Derek Pulliam, and Lori Risling — is back playing favourite country classics on Tuesday, March 22 at the Arden Theatre. RON CARTIER/Photo

The Louisiana Hayride Show, a concert of the great classic country artists, is set to return to the Arden Theatre with some of the catalogue's greatest hits. 

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 expanded highlighting pop-country artist Shania Twain and rock and roll singer Buddy Holly.  

A forerunner to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, The Louisiana Hayride was a classic country radio show that ran from 1948 to 1960. Broadcast out of Shreveport, Louisiana, it launched the careers of many country music unknowns including Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Willie Nelson. 

In addition, Elvis Presley, the cross-genre singing sensation, appeared at the Hayride in the mid-50s. The popular phrase, “Elvis has left the building,” was coined at his final performance 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 leaving to chase Elvis,” said Lori Risling, creator, writer, and host of the tribute show. 

She formed The Louisiana Hayride Show during an unexpected twist of fate. Back in 2009, Risling developed breast cancer. 

“I had chemo and with it, lots of down time. 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 attracted her attention was the radio program embraced new artists and new musical innovations that staunch traditionalists at the Grand Ole Opry refused to consider. While the Opry only featured recording artists, the Hayride often highlighted up and coming artists who had not yet found an audience. 

And while the Opry banned electric guitars, Hayride welcomed the stringed instrument. Its influence and pervasiveness eventually transformed “hillbilly music” into a new form called rock and roll that eventually spread across the world. 

Risling hand-picked 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’s Only the Lonely, Crying, and 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 — That's Alright, Love Me Tender, and Hound Dog

“Vic has great appeal to the audience. There’s something about him that’s very inviting. He has cool suit jackets, the look, the moves, the inflections, and the gestures. He even says the funny things Elvis said. He recreates Elvis as closely as possible.” 

At first glance, de Sousa’s rock and roll interpretation of Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue, Every Day, and That’ll Be the Day seems an odd addition.  

“I wanted something different, but something that could still be tied to the Hayride. Buddy influenced Elvis and there was enough of a connection to add him.” 

Singer Andrea Anderson, who hails from Lake Country, B.C., was discovered quite by accident. 

“I used to DJ at private parties. At one party, a guy asked if this girl could come up. Most people don’t sing very well, but I said, ‘Sure.’ She comes up and picks a song. She starts to sing and it was ‘Oh, my God. The girl can sing.’ I wanted a Patsy Cline, but I didn’t have anyone. She said, ‘Yes,’ without knowing what she was saying, ‘Yes,’ to, and that was 12 years ago,” said Risling. She attributes Anderson’s longevity to a broad vocal range as well as the 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. 

“Prior to Lefty, country music had a staccato sound. He smoothed everything out and stretched the vowels. He hit on a sound everyone loved. He was the pioneer of new music, and a lot of people emulated him — even Roy Orbison when he started out.” 

The Louisiana Hayride Show is Tuesday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. The Arden Theatre is at 5 St. Anne Street. Tickets are $45 at 780-459-1542 or online at www.stalbert.ca/exp/arden. 


Anna Borowiecki

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