Two classic rock greats, one Canadian and one American, will be taking to the stage at Casino New Brunswick on Saturday evening.
Dr. Hook featuring Ray Sawyer, best known for hits like “Sylvia’s Mother,” “Cover of the Rolling Stone” and “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman,” will be performing alongside longtime Canadian favourites The Stampeders of “Sweet City Woman” fame.
With an approximate 60 gold and platinum albums worldwide as a member of Dr. Hook, Ray Sawyer, the spirited, eye-patched vocalist of Dr. Hook and The Medicine show, continues to tour worldwide with the group.
Given the group’s extensive catalogue of music, narrowing down a set list to perform every evening can sometimes be an arduous task. It is one that Sawyer enjoys, however.
What fans need not worry about however is the group not playing some of their staple songs. Sawyer recognizes that their hits are the reason why he and the rest of Dr. Hook are able to continue performing more than 40 years after their debut effort. Ensuring that the group gives people what they want to hear was a lesson taught to him approximately 40 years ago that had one of the greatest impacts on Sawyer’s outlook on performing live.
“We opened for someone who would have been a superstar in 1972 or 1973,” he said in an interview. “I made a point to stay and watch their show and they didn’t end up performing any of the songs that helped make them who they were. After seeing that, I vowed that I would always make a point to play our hits during our show. You have to give the people what they want to hear. We’re fortunate enough to be able to continue playing live.”
Sawyer says that while the amount of shows that his group performs from year to year can fluctuate, the busiest time of year for the band is the summer. He says that while they continue to perform in their native United States, the group spends much of their time in Canada and Europe. The latter territory is where the group first gained notoriety all those years ago.
“Some of our most loyal fans come from outside the United States,” Sawyer says. “Denmark and Norway were among the first two countries anywhere that picked up on Dr. Hook and knew what we were trying to do with our music.”
While The Stampeders were born on virtually the opposite end of North America compared to Dr. Hook, their career paths have followed very similar trajectories.
The Juno Award-winning Stampeders are arguably best known for the 1971 hit “Sweet City Woman,” which also happens to be the same year that Dr. Hook’s debut album was released. Like Dr. Hook though, the Stampeders are no one-hit wonders with “Minstrel Gypsy,” “Ramona,” “Wild Eyes” and “Hit The Road Jack” all being rock radio staples in their own right.
The original Stampeders line-up, Rich Dodson, Kim Berly and Ronnie King, are no strangers to the east coast. From his home in Calgary, King says that touring these days is certainly an easier task than it was 30 or 40 years ago when the group’s only option was to travel the country by car.
“In a perfect world, it would be sensational to be out for three nights a week and then come home. It doesn’t always work that way though,” a jovial King laughs. “Now, when we’re planning our tours, such as the one that will bring us to Moncton, we do our best to plan other shows around one central date. It’s better to work smart and not hard these days.”
King shares that he is currently writing his memoirs which will, naturally, include a portion dedicated to covering his time with The Stampeders. It has been a work-in-progress for the past five years, detailing his life up to the present day, starting with him and his family having landed at Halifax’s Pier 21 when he was only seven years old.
“The book does not focus solely upon the band but is going to include that very important part of my life. I am ultimately aiming to have a finished product of around 300 to 400 pages. That seems to be the bar that has been set, so to speak.”
Like Sawyer’s Dr. Hook, King does not foresee a time when the band is not making music. He says that as long as the health of the individual band members holds up and as long as audiences still want to see the band, they will continue playing.
“It feels good to still be making music after all these years. To have people still interested in the band is certainly a wonderful thing.”
Article published in the May 24, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript
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