Valdy (left) and Gary Fjellgaard (right) will be performing as The Contenders for George Ryga Week in B.C. in Penticton and Summerland.

Valdy (left) and Gary Fjellgaard (right) will be performing as The Contenders for George Ryga Week in B.C. in Penticton and Summerland.

The Contenders bring 40 years of music to South Okanagan

Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard perform in Penticton and Summerland in support of George Ryga Week in B.C.

Playing 200 gigs per year, and annual appearances in the Okanagan, it would be easy to assume The Contenders have hit the stage at the Cleland Theatre before.

In fact, it is one of the few places Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard haven’t been.

“We are really looking forward to it,” said Valdy. “You know this is an interesting business. We don’t retire, people just stop coming to see us which is nature’s subtle, little warning sign. I am 67 years old and I am going to keep going, I am just having a ball.”

With over 40 years of great tunes between them, The Contenders are playing the Cleland Theatre in Penticton on Nov. 3 and then Summerland, at the Centre Stage Theatre on Nov. 6. Supporting George Ryga week in B.C. (Nov. 2 to 10) the duo will perform with some of the proceeds going towards charity.

“It becomes a tradition that we build the year around. We believe a lot about what George Ryga is about. He was a writer of social conscious. A portion of this year’s concerts are going towards a bursary for writers of social conscious,” said Valdy.

The duo will be performing some of their vast repertoire that spans over 40 years of recording. Fjellgaard has never stopped writing songs and will have some new tunes to perform, while Valdy will also take the stage with new material from his album Read Between the Lines. Valdy said while they believe in writing with a social conscience, his mandate is to entertain and enlighten.

“I don’t want to be preaching to people. I just like to put some little gems in there that people can take home with them and think about,” he said. “I believe firmly that as long as we can’t talk to each other or communicate we can’t get along. If we can at least communicate with one another then perhaps we will be civil with one another.”

Valdy has been part of the fabric of Canadian folk music for over 38 years. His latest album delves into a variety of music from folk, rock to ballads and even a waltz called The Day They Shot Ginger Down. Valdy said it is about Ginger Goodwin a “matyr for labour” who was a B.C. activist until 1918. Singing and writing about the world and its issues has not left Valdy. Liner notes on each song describe the Read Between the Lines tunes in aid of flood victims in Manitoba, the fish-farming industry and a birthday song to the United Nations. Valdy moves from heavy issues to the quirky VLT, about how Dave Gunn pulled the plug on a gambling machine in a restaurant.

“It is quite a weird album,” Valdy admits. “It’s very good, but it has so many different styles of music on it.”

Tickets for the Penticton show can be purchased at The Dragon’s Den and at Martin’s Flowers for the Summerland show.