NACC to present four shows

photo courtesy of Northern Arts and Cultural Centre Vancouver-based bluesman Jim Byrnes will be the first performer to visit Hay River this year in a series of shows from the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre.

photo courtesy of Northern Arts and Cultural Centre
Vancouver-based bluesman Jim Byrnes will be the first performer to visit Hay River this year in a series of shows from the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre.

The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) will be bringing four shows to Hay River this year as part of its annual season of travelling performances.

“We try to bring some diversity to Hay River as much as we do in Yellowknife,” said Marie Coderre, the executive and artistic director of NACC.
The first performer to visit Hay River will be Vancouver-based bluesman Jim Byrnes, who will be in town on Sept. 14.

“He’s a blues legend,” said Coderre.

Byrnes is a singer-songwriter who was born in St. Louis, Missouri.

By age 13, he was singing and playing blues guitar and had his first professional gig in 1964.

Byrnes moved to Vancouver in the mid-1970s after years of drifting, working odd jobs and playing music. In 1981, he put together a band that became a staple of the local music scene and, within five years, had played about 300 shows.

Byrnes produced five albums in six years after he hooked up with Steve Dawson, one of North America’s most critically-acclaimed roots music producers. That includes the 2004 album Fresh Horses and 2006’s gospel-tinged Juno Award-winning House of Refuge.

Away from his music, Byrnes developed a career as an actor, with roles in two CBS television shows including the crime drama Wiseguy in the late 1980s and the Highlander series in the mid-1990s. He also had his own national variety show, The Jim Byrnes Show.

His performance in Hay River will be at Riverview Cineplex.

On Sept. 23, Tango Boreal will perform in Hay River as part of the annual International Lute Festival.

The trio includes Denis Plante playing the accordion-like bandoneon; guitarist David Jacques, who takes on the charango, which is a stringed instrument resembling a small ukulele; and bassist Ian Simpson.

On Oct. 17, the Ko K’e Music and Spoken Word Festival will stop in Hay River featuring singer, guitarist and pianist Natasha Duchene and violinist Andrea Bettger, and both will be doing some storytelling.

“It’s going to be absolutely incredible,” said Coderre. “It’s a mix of legends and music.”

Finally, the one-man play Call Mr. Robeson will visit on Nov. 14.

“It’s an internationally acclaimed play,” said Coderre.

The performance – by writer, performer and producer Tayo Aluko – tells the story of Paul Robeson, who was an American actor, singer and civil rights campaigner.

The Yellowknife-based NACC has been bringing performances to Hay River and a number of other communities in the NWT for close to a decade.

–Paul Bickford