This weekend will see the Kettle Valley Brakemen set out on the road again for another season of bringing the songs and stories of the railroad to their fans around B.C.
And, said band leader and songwriter Jack Godwin, they’re bringing a couple of new songs as well, performing them in public for the first time at their April 16 concert in the Penticton Museum.
“We’re honouring a particular Penticton pioneer, a longtime Kettle Valley Railway conductor and former Penticton alderman named Perley McPherson,” said Godwin. “The guy was quite well known, quite a character.”
McPherson’s song will come after a special introduction by Barry Sanford, author of McCulloch’s Wonder, a history of the KVR,
“He is going to talk for about 10 minutes on Perley and why he was so special,” said Godwin, adding that Sanford, who knew McPherson, volunteered to come down when he found out the Brakemen had a song about the character.
Godwin won’t say much about the song, except that it focuses on one of the more intriguing events in the conductor’s life.
“There is also a new song about the silk trains,” said Godwin, explaining that these were high speed trains that carried the profitable product east, once the railroad was put through.
“They were the fastest thing on the line,” said Godwin. “There was once a royal tour going through and they had to get over on the siding to let a silk train go through.”
The Saturday concert marks the start of the 14th season for the Brakemen, who focus exclusively on railway music, playing old favourites and writing new folk songs to tell their stories.
While there is lots of new folk music available, Godwin said the Brakemens’ music is different, hearkening back to an older troubadour tradition.
“It’s all personal. Our stuff is about the audience, trying to tell them a story and there is really an interest in that,” he said.
The Brakemen have several gigs planned already, including an appearance at Smith and Co. on May 5 and a Canada Day concert at the Keremeos Grist Mill.
“I am actually going to slow things down a bit during August, because I want to record another Brakemen CD,” said Godwin.
Tickets are $12 for the concert, which takes place in the Penticton Museum at 2 p.m. Seating in the museum is limited, and advance tickets are available at the museum.