Paul Valdemar Horsdal, better known as Canadian singer/songwriter Valdy, is set to return to the Okanagan for the 15th time.
“I have pawned my instruments over the years and that’s what that song talks about. The thing being a friend and we put its life in danger by pawning it. Then we get it back again. It just shares so many road stories of our lives, and in fact is integral to them. I have a Martin guitar as well so the song rang very close to home,” Valdy said.
He wished he had written it himself.
“If I want to say the same thing, rather than compete, I’ll just use that same song,” Valdy said. “Which is what I did in this case. I’d like to say I’ve been paving Gary’s driveway, but I think I’ve been gravelling it.”
Valdy got in touch with Fjellgaard and asked if he would like to perform a couple of tour dates. The two departed on their first tour years ago, they dubbed it the “Creek Tour” in Pincher Creek and Bragg Creek in southern Alberta.
“They were both sold out and were very well received, so we figured, well, this just might work,” Valdy said.
The two started writing material together, made a record and are now touring the Okanagan for the 15th time. The tour originally started for famed Canadian playwright George Ryga who made his home in Summerland.
“He was a writer of social activism. He represented the downtrodden or the misrepresented or the non-represented perhaps. I think not many people do that, there certainly is not a cash cow in it, but it’s a needed voice,” Valdy said. “We tend to forget about people unless it’s brought across our bow and he was very good at doing that with his plays.”
It was those themes Ryga embraced that stuck with Fjellgaard and Valdy and led them to honour Ryga with an annual Okanagan tour.
“He was a compassionate writer and a compassionate man and he deserved to be remembered and so we decided we would do this annually in order to keep his memory out there,” Valdy said.
The duo, dubbed The Contenders, are touring their latest album, Off the Floor, released last year.
“It takes a year or two for the songs to really settle in and find their niche. We record them first and really learn how to settle into them. They iterate as we play them,” Valdy said.
The two recorded Off the Floor in a completely new way, coming into the studio without backing tracks or studio magic, just two men playing and singing their music.
“I have never done it before. I’ve gone in and done demos like this, but we just went in, played the song until we had a good take, we’d go in and listen, say well maybe a little here a little bit there and go back and play it again. We built the tunes as we went along. It made the session a little longer, but it wasn’t onerous by any means. We decided it would just be two voices and two guitars because that’s what we do on stage,” Valdy said. “It’s strikingly honest and it’s to the heart of the music as opposed to layering it with a bunch of filigree and perhaps pretention.”
Fjellgaard and Valdy aren’t sick of each other just yet after 15 years of touring.
“There’s always new stories,” Valdy said.
Valdy took a moment to recognize the achievements of his musical counterpart Fjellgaard.
“He’s 79 now and he’s still out there kickin’ it. So he’s been my poster boy,” Valdy said.
Valdy and Fjellgaard return to the Okanagan stopping at the Barking Parrot on Nov. 1 and the Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland on Nov. 2.