A local DJ and music producer is paying his respects to two late great Northern Saskatchewan musicians that helped pave the way for the Indigenous music scene in the province by organizing a tribute concert in their honour.
Garrett Baldhead, professionally known as DJ EXL, is throwing a “Friends of New Horizon” concert in remembrance of Ken Pederson and Josh McCallum, members of the northern Saskatchewan country-rock band who both passed away in the fall of 2020.
“I had no idea who New Horizon was until my buddy showed me and I fell in love with the band, especially Ken Pederson’s voice,” said Baldhead. “The strong connection I had to them was from hearing their music, you can feel it.”
The loss of the two band members shook the local music scene, and Baldhead is showing his support for the musicians that inspired him by organizing a multi-band concert in their names.
“I don’t think they’ve ever been honoured for any of the music they’ve ever done,” said Baldhead. “They have millions of hits on Youtube and no one ever talks about that.”
He said being able to get the original band members’ blessings to book the tribute show means everything to him.
Baldhead started out as a small-time DJ in Saskatoon, before he began throwing his own concerts with local bands. Now he’s booking sold-out shows all over Western Canada and continues to be an inspiration for Indigenous entrepreneurs all over the province.
Leonard Adam is a singer/songwriter from the northern community of Fond du Lac who will be joining the stage on Friday thanks to Baldhead. He’s been making music for over 42 years and has been performing with his sons as a band for close to 15 years. They are on the verge of releasing their first album, which is planned to be out next weekend.
Adam said he’s thankful for the chance to get back on the stage that he previously shared with the late musicians of New Horizon.
“It’s really exciting for me and we’re really happy to be a part of it,” he said. “To support them and their families, to be strong for them and to keep their music alive.”
“As members of the Dene Nation from the far North, taking their music to the City where different cultures meet,” said Adam. “I’m glad to be a part of the Aboriginal music scene and pave the way for the next upcoming artists, to do their stuff and show the world where they come from.”
Leroy Laliberte of The Dirt Road Maniacs says it means a lot to him to take part in a tribute for his late friends, Ken and Josh.
“Being from northwest Saskatchewan where all of us knew each other, we all grew up playing music and sharing stages,” said Laliberte. “I wanted to be involved somehow, in their memory. Both of the guys loved music and they were good at what they did.”
“We’re basically a big music family, everybody knows everybody,” said Laliberte. “We’ve all shared stages all over the place.”
The Dirt Road Maniacs is made up of members from all different musical backgrounds. A couple of the guys grew up together, played in a few separate bands over the years and eventually made it back to each other.
“For the people that want to come and see four different, all great bands on Friday, I know they won’t be sorry,” said Laliberte. “If you’re not doing anything, come and check it out.”
The Dirt Road Maniacs, Derek Maurice, Leonard Adam & Sons, Colt Mike Band, with a special guest appearance by the Creeland Dancers, will be gracing the stage of The Roxy Music Hall in Saskatoon on August 19.
All musicians will be saying a few words in Pederson’s and McCallum’s memory before they perform a few original songs by New Horizon.
Tickets for the event can be purchased for $35 from The Roxy Saskatoon website.