Valdy Sings for the Yukon Quest

Folk icon, Valdy, has released 18 recordings, even more singles, and has been nominated for seven Juno awards (snagging two), but the 64-year-old musician shows no real interest in slowing down.

Indeed, he has 14 tracks he plans to lay down for his next project.

Of the 200 shows he performs each year, one of them will be in Whitehorse, at the Yukon Convention Centre, Feb. 6.

Bunny Boots Cabaret, also featuring Hank Karr and the Canucks, is a fundraising event for the Yukon Quest.

The resident of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, says he doesn’t take a moment for granted.

“I had my first record out in 1971. I got really lucky with the first one because it was a hit, with the song, Play Me a Rock ‘n’ Roll Song, and I’ve been touring ever since,” he said over the phone after just getting off stage in Dundas, Ontario.

Valdy said his interest in melody stems from musical genius Henry Mancini. He can remember buying Mancini’s records and it being love at first sound.

He is renowned for his songwriting and says, “The lyrics and whatnot came with mileage, and I got better.”

One of the main lessons he’s taken away since beginning his musical journey is to “never let the truth get in the way of a good song.” It’s a rule he still lives by.

He has toured Europe, Texas and New Zealand, but hasn’t overlooked where he comes from, having been as far north as Inuvik and throughout the Yukon, including Whitehorse, Ross River, Dawson Creek, Watson Lake and Clinton Creek.

“In terms of playing, I am truly a Canadian musician and go from place to place across the country,” he continued. “I just feel really lucky to be able to see all of this, I’m really fortunate, and this country is so diverse that at times it’s almost exhausting.”

After finding some inspiration in artists like Bella Fleck, he has taken on some new challenges – specifically learning to play the lap steel guitar, blue grass banjo and the accordion. “I’m still learning new instruments to keep my mind working, studies have proved that it does keep a person’s brain intact,” he said.

While in Whitehorse, he plans to add one more Canadian experience to his résumé: his first dog sled ride. “I’m going into it with great relish and a degree of nervousness,” he said.

Besides the CD project, Valdy is producing an album for singer Kathy Stack, and would like to release a songbook both in digital and hard copy. This project is an ongoing one and he hopes to see it produced within a year or 18 months.

He said people can anticipate a very interactive performance: “I play the tunes people know and the new ones, blend of old and new.

“As a folk singer, I get the audience involved a great deal.

“It is entertainment, you can’t forget that.”

Oh, and if the whole Canadian folk singer route hadn’t worked out, Valdy said he could imagine himself as a “wood butcher” … that is to say, a carpenter.

“I got the drive to do it and am a Virgo, so I tend to be good at what I’m doing once I sit down to do it.”

The Bunny Boots Cabaret evening will be held at the Yukon Convention Centre Saturday, Feb. 6.

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