Listen to local talent at the Carman Country Fair

Water and Wood, featuring local musician Trevor Clearwater, will be performing at the Carman Country Fair this week. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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The 139th Carman Country Fair is fast approaching, and crowds can expect not just an emphasis on local agriculture, food and fun – organizers are also putting a premium on local music, and lots of it.

From highlighting hometown artists on the main stage to hosting a new community fundraising concert and making space for a number of buskers throughout the fairgrounds, the three-day Carman Fair is focusing on local connections first and foremost this year.

In the past, the fair has hosted artists from across Manitoba and Canada, but Entertainment Committee Chair Amanada Reimer said the priority this year is highlighting some of the amazing talent closer to home.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “We have lots of talented people among us, and sometimes we don’t see or hear or give them enough credit for the talent that they have. I wanted to make sure that they had somewhere they could showcase to the community.”

Reimer was a committee member last year, before taking over as the head of the committee this year. She said that as a passionate musician herself, she wasn’t inspired by most of the conventional booking agent options.

“It was okay, but I didn’t feel really connected to it,” she said. “For me, I want to feel a little more connected to the people up on stage, and I felt like if we had some really good local talent that we got to put up on the stage it would connect people.”

“We ask a lot of our community, and it’s nice to kind of give it back to the community…we’re pulling from our own pool,” she added. “We’ve got lots of talented people around.”

The musical performances will kick off on Thursday, July 12 with children’s performer Jake Chenier in front of the grandstands at 5 p.m.

Friday, July 13 will feature a community fundraising concert on the main stage at 1 p.m. Reimer has a variety of local acts – including the Sonatrice Singers, Myrtle Young and Friends, Pocket Aces and The Rainy Day Apparel – set to perform, and a collection will be taken for a local cause.

That evening, fans of rock and roll can listen to Ferny Turnbull, a band originally from Winnipeg that has some connections to the region.

Some of the band’s influences include Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Dr. Hook, Marshal Tucker, Johnny Cash, Jimmi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn, all of which are reflected in the music the group plays.

“They’re absolutely amazing,” said Reimer.

Headlining the fair this year is Water and Wood. The band, formed by Trevor Clearwater on acoustic guitar and Dave Hopwood on bass guitar and vocals, will be taking the main stage as the last act on the night of Saturday, July 14.

Water and Wood was formed in 2011, but Clearwater and Hopwood have played together for much longer than that, as members of Winnipeg country group Hawg Wylde which played together for over 20 years, releasing three albums.

The duo has a natural, campfire sound that translates well into any setting, allowing listeners to enjoy acoustic versions of all their favorite hit songs across multiple genres of music.

Trevor Clearwater is from the Carman area; Water and Wood has performed in the region before at functions like the Carman and Community Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala.

“He’s part of our community here,” said Reimer. “And they’re all so excited to be performing here as well.”

Opening for Water and Wood will be The Rainy Day Apparel and Pocket Aces.

Carman resident Nathan Strange is the man behind The Rainy Day Apparel, offering acoustic melodies that aim to “tell the story of multiple connections in a magnanimous but tranquil way, offering perspective on the human experience as seen and heard from the eyes of a prairie born singer-songwriter.”

The Pocket Aces are an acoustic duo comprised of Kaden and Larry Elford, a young musician and his father who live in the area now. The duo began in Texas after Kaden helped behind the scenes with a couple of bands that his father played in, and they decided to pursue performing together. They have played vineyard openings, restaurants, pubs, festivals, outdoor dance halls, and private parties everywhere from Mexico to Texas to Nebraska to Canada. The pair most enjoy acoustic re-makes of classic tunes and singing harmonies together, adding their own style to familiar tunes.

And besides the main stage attractions, busking stations will be set up around the fairgrounds to give even more exposure to local talent of all ages.

“Even local kids who have a talent and want to show case it…I’m giving them a platform to do so where they can come and play for people walking by,” said Reimer. “I think it will be really neat.”

Reimer is already looking for more local talent to feature next summer.

“For next year, if there’s anybody that wants to have an opportunity to be on the stage, definitely come see me,” she said.

And for this year, busking stations are still available for local musicians who are interested. To find out more, you can contact the Dufferin Agricultural Society at 204-745-2226, or find the group on Facebook.

With files from