In the years between 1980 and 1992, the Urban Corral was the place to play for country artists passing through Moncton.
Formerly located on St. George Street, the club held a remarkable legacy in country music circles, hosting local talent such as Joan Kennedy and Shirley Myers in addition to international stars such as Vince Gill and Alabama on the club’s stage.
This weekend, staff, bands and friends of the Urban Corral will descend upon Bo Diddley’s Lounge on Collishaw Street in Moncton to share memories and take in more than 14 acts scheduled to play over the course of the weekend.
Saturday’s show features Morn’n Sun, Pete Porter & Friends, Joan Kennedy, Barnaby River & Friends, Leslie Grant & Harold MacIntyre, Johnny Comfort and BJ Shannon. Sunday’s show features Eddie, Diane & Friends, Allan Good, Debbie Myers, Revolver 2000, Shirley Myers, Ivan Daigle, Romeo Melanson & Friends.
The shows start at 3 p.m. each day although Sunday’s gathering will informally start at 2 p.m. with a meet and greet session with Shirley and Debbie Myers.
According to Dave Dupuis, the son of Urban Corral owner Roger Dupuis, this weekend’s reunion was something that former clientele and staff of the Corral were clamouring for. Once the wheels began turning late last winter to make the reunion a reality, Dupuis says that everything fell into place rather effortlessly.
‘I was overseas for a number of years and finally came back to Canada this past year,’ Dupuis begins. ‘It was our experience that people have been asking for this reunion for the past 20 years but with my father being retired, I don’t think there would have been any way that he could do this himself. So we began talking about the possibility of putting a weekend like this together and we have finally arrived at the time that it’s going to happen.’ Proudly noting that the Urban Corral was a family-run business, Dupuis says the initial response to this weekend’s upcoming celebration was encouraging from the get go.
‘Of all of the staff we had work with us, I believe that there is only one staff member who can’t make it,’ he says. ‘We have people coming in from Nova Scotia, Western Canada and even the United States to celebrate with us this weekend.
‘During the time that the club was open, the Corral actually saw little in the way of turnover. We had some staff there who worked with us from the time the club opened until the time that it closed.
‘And we’ve all stayed in touch with each other over the past 20 years; it is as though we were one big family. It was a very special time, an era that will never happen again,’ Dupuis says.
Dupuis is quick to attribute the club’s success to the people who worked there. Because the club offered live music seven days a week, something that is virtually unheard of these days, the atmosphere at the Corral was vastly different from other clubs in the city at the time.
And what a line-up of talent the Corral was able to offer their patrons. The club was a launching pad for local talent like Joan Kennedy and Shirley & Debbie Myers while also welcoming some of country’s biggest names. Dupuis shares that after Alabama wrapped up a show at the Moncton Coliseum, the group boarded their bus and then proceeded to play a set for a packed Urban Corral.
It is memories like this that Dupuis is certain will be shared among all those in attendance this weekend. A Facebook group dedicated to sharing memories of the Urban Corral has swelled from 68 when the group was created in April to more than 1,200 members.
Dupuis says some have suggested making the event an annual celebration. And while that sounds good on paper, Dupuis says that the logistics of organizing such an event are massive.
‘We knew from the beginning that this was not going to be a 200seat event. If you take the entertainers and staff alone into consideration, we would have almost 200 people per day there alone! We knew that we had to plan for something much larger than almost any club could reasonably accommodate here in Moncton. We have a big 32-foot by 28-foot stage being set up with a great sound and light system. It won’t be something that people will likely forget anytime soon.
We couldn’t reasonably expect to pull something like this off again, however.’ Entertainment is set to start at 3 p.m. sharp on both Saturday and Sunday with video and photo montages set to be played for all those in attendance in the time between band changeovers. Dupuis says that the photos will feature many of the entertainers who played the Corral but will also pay tribute to some, like Joey Knight, who are no longer with us.
‘I think it is im portant to remember the folks that were such a huge part of making the Urban Corral what it was,’ Dupuis says.
‘The six minutes that the memorial photos will be displayed will certainly be somber but these people were an important part of the club’s history and we felt that we had to acknowledge the contribution that these people made.’
Article published in August 3, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript