Art, artists, artisan studios and art galleries in and around the Nicola Valley and within the city limits of Merritt BC.

Merritt Murals in the Nicola Valley

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Merle Haggard Country Music Artist & Musician 

“I’m just writin’ about my little ol’ love affair,” Merle Haggard.

Merritt Mural Digital Walking Tour with the Legendary Merle Haggard. Merle was well known for his rough edge sound. It was a new sound which caught the attention of the executives in Nashville. Complimented by the unique sound of his steel guitar his vocal style of music more than words got plenty of attention from the country music industry. This was apparent when Merle Haggard rocked the stage at the Merritt Country Music Fest in Merritt BC Canada in 2003 (now the Rockin’ River Country Music Festival).

Merle Haggard

Tania Stewart (Experience Nicola Valley) / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

A Country Music Merritt Mural Icon

Lets be clear here… Merle Haggard remains, to this day, one of the best-known and most covered artists in country music history. Secondly, his influence on country music has earned him a spot on a Merritt Mural located in Merritt BC Canada, the Canadian Country Music Capital of Canada.

Most importantly it is a pleasure to meet you! And thank you for the QR download. Pretty cool right! As a result of your download we should really get back to Merle’s story. 

Merle Haggard Comes Out Flying

“Momma Tried”  written and recorded by American country music artist Merle Haggard and The Strangers. Released in July 1968 as the first single and title track from the album “Mama Tried”. The song became one of the cornerstone songs of his career in which Merle won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.

Interesting Facts about Merle Haggard

  • Firstly Merle Haggard holds the record for most #1 country singles after Conway Twitty.
  • Between 1963 and the mid 80’s,  hardly a year went by that Merle didn’t produce a single hit.
  • 38 No 1 hits, 250 original songs, nearly 70 albums.
  • Known to be called the “Poet Laureate” of the hard hats. Merle was made for cowboy hats!

Most Recognized Merle Haggard Country Music Songs 

In short Merle Haggard was widely known for these songs…  

  • “Okie from Muskogee”
  • “Mama Tried”
  • “Today I Started Loving You Again”
  • “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive”
  • “The Frighten Side of  Me”
  • “Someday We’ll Look Back” (1971)
  • “If We Make It Through December” (1974)
  • “A Working Man Can’t Get Nowhere Today” (1977)

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Interesting Facts About Merle Haggard

  • “The Hag” was his nickname.
  • Johnny Cash made his legendary 1959 performance at San Quentin Prison resulting in Merle having front row seats.
  • A duet with Clint Eastwood “Bar Room Buddies” released April 1980.
  • Ronald Reagan governor of California 1972 officially pardoned Merle.
  • Four out of 6 of children are gifted country singers who inherited their fathers natural talent. Ben Haggard being one of the most recognized.
  • Older brother Lowell gave Merle his first used guitar. Merle taught himself to play.
  • In the beginning Merle worked during the day and played  guitar at the local bars at night.
  • Merle Haggard [Platinum Disc] (2007).
  • Haggard’s signature song and his most controversial recording, “Okie from Muskogee”.
  • Elected into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1977.
  • In 1994,  an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

To see all his awards you can go to “Academy of Country Music” and “Country Music Association

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Merle Ronald Haggard –  April 6,1937 – April 6,2016

Merle’s Early Life Of Crime

Born during the great depression, the youngest son of three, Merle grew up in a converted railroad box as a home.  With the death of his father in 1945,  Merle developed into a rebellious child committing a number of minor offenses as a teen. Truancy and passing phony checks  subsequently landed him in a juvenile detention centre. Life started on the wrong foot. 

Then came married life. Suffering from financial issues, Merle attempted to rob a roadhouse bar resulting in a jail sentence in San Quentin prison in 1958 at the age of 20. There is a story that Merle, at one time,  was conspiring with a fellow inmate named “Rabbit” to stage a prison break. Fortunately Merle backed out. He soon found out later that Rabbit was sentenced to death after killing a police officer during his escape. Rabbit inspired Merle to make changes in his life. 

“We need to have music that contributes to the well-being of the spirit. Music that cradles people’s lives and makes things a little easier. That’s what I try to do, and what I want to do. You don’t want to close the door on hope,” Merle Haggard.

Later In Life – Times Are A Changing For Merle

After his release from San Quentin State Prison in 1960, Merle returned to Bakersfield, where he sang and played guitar in the honky-tonks of “Beer Can Hill,”  the city’s country music scene.  In 1962, he signed with a small label called Tally Records, for whom he recorded five songs, including his debut single “Sing a Sad Song,” which rose to No. 19 on the country charts.

Motivation Behind Country Music Lyrics

Resulting from his life experiences Merle told his story with song and music. Often described as an intense dedicated artist who wrote and performed traditional country songs. 

“I’ve never been a guy that can do what people told me…. It’s always been my nature to fight the system.” Merle Haggard.

Merritt BC Canada Murals

The Merritt Mural Project started in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Muralist Michelle Loughery painted this Merritt Mural.

In Conclusion

After being diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998, Merle underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Reflecting on the situation, he referred to it as “the greatest test of my fortitude.” However,  following a speedy recovery, Haggard returned to touring and writing songs.

Sadly on April 6,2016 Haggard passed away at his Northern California Ranch. It is reported by family and friends Merle had stated that he would  die on his 79th birthday. 

Get more Merle on his website.

Merritt Murals and Downtown Walking Tour

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

Blog

Experience Nicola Valley

Travel Website

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Merritt BC Murals – Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Featured Country Music Musician : Carolyn Dawn Johnson

“I’m going for the big picture” Carolyn Dawn Johnson

The Merritt BC Murals attraction includes Canadian country music singer Carolyn Dawn Johnson. She is one of  25 + Canadian Country Music Murals located throughout the community of Merritt, BC, Canada in the Nicola Valley. But here, at this mural in front of you,  I am going to tell you a little about Carolyn Dawn Johnson. 

Carolyn Dawn Johnson – Merritt BC Murals

Carolyn Dawn Johnson played at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now called the Rockin’ River Country Music Fest) in 2002 and again in 2006. Johnson was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. At the age of 5 she was singing in church and started taking piano lessons from the pastors wife.

At one point in her life she steered away from country music. But luckily for country music fans, Carolyn finally found her way back to the stage and calls that period of her life, that hiatus from country music, “a stain in her heart”.

country music mural Carolyn Dawn Johnson Merritt BC

Michelle Bacon (Experience Nicola Valley) / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

The Songs Of A Canadian Country Singer

Many a country music fan of Carolyn Dawn Johnson know her best for her songs like “Complicated”, “Georgia”, and “I don’t want you to go”.  

Carolyn also has two children, Abigail and Bennett. In one of Carolyn’s videos you can watch as she and her daughter Abigail sing a duet (story book style) that she wrote with Stella ladies. 

Life Of Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Carolyn Dawn Johnson was born on April 30, 1971 in Grand Prairie Alberta. She had many influences growing up. Her parents would play country music records while later in life she listened to many other artists and genres. Some included ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, Charley Pride and Marty Stewart.

At 5 years old she started taking piano lessons from the pastors wife at her church. Then in high school she learned to play the flute, saxophone and clarinet. Because her teacher Evangeline Theissen kept sending her books about piano, she continues to play the keys with passion.  

High School And Beyond

Although she took music in high school, her teachers were not very encouraging. She then turned to science. After graduation she attended Trinity Western University in Langley, BC studying biology. The following year she returned to Alberta, Canada and specialized in education.

Night Clubs

While attending collage she frequently went to the local clubs and sat in with some of the featured bands.  It was while playing with the local bands that her confidence grew on stage and in her talents. The bands, watching her perform on stage night in and night out, encouraged her to get back into music. It was then that she realized that her true calling was country music.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Country Music Education 

Carolyn, realizing that country music was her future, decided to pursue an education in the production of music. She enrolled in Vancouver’s Columbia Academy and learned the technical aspects of the music industry. While learning song writing from a video she purchased she wrote songs in her spare time. It was also at this time Johnson joined the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

Nashville Is Calling Carolyn Dawn Johnson 

“I’m going for the big picture”  Carolyn Dawn Johnson

This quote was said to her mother during a phone call in 1994. It was then she moved to Nashville. On her arrival  in Nashville, Tennessee Carolyn began to seek out and attend song writing workshops. In 1998 everything changed. It was then she signed with Patrick Joseph Music as a songwriter. Her demos captured the attention of some amazing artists like Jo Dee Messina, Patty Loveless, Mindy McCready, Chely Write among others.

Big Break Writing

Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s big break came in 1999 with “Single White Female”. Johnson co-wrote the song “Single White Female” with Shaye Smith and, ultimately, Chely Write ended up recording the song. This song became her first #1 hit as a song writer. The momentum continued when Jo Dee Messina recorded  another of Carolyn’s songs called “Downtime” which became a top #5 hit.

Music Row Magazine named Carolyn Dawn Johnson “Breakthrough Song Writer of the Year” in 2000.

Country Music Starts On The Road

In 1999 Carolyn started her country music solo career. Martina McBride asked Carolyn to go on tour with her as a back up singer and guitarist. While on tour with Martina, Carolyn worked on her own songs for her debut album.

 Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Photo Credit :Carolyn Dawn Johnson Facebook

2001

In 2001 the doors continued to open for Carolyn Dawn Johnson. She opened for stars like Sara Evens, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire and Jamie O’Neil while on the Girls Night Out Tour.

Later in 2001 Johnson released her debut album “Room with a View” in Canada. An American release followed soon after. Selling almost 18,000 copies in the first week it became Nashville’s highest debuting album by an new artist. “Room with a View” became Certified Gold in Canada a few months later.

By the end of 2001 Carolyn Dawn Johnson had received 10 nominations from the Canadian Country Music Association. She went on to win 5 of those awards including Female Artist Of The Year.

2002

2002 Carolyn went on tour with Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. She won a Juno award for “Best Country Artist”. Another award won by Johnson that year was “Top New Female Artist’ by the Academy of Country Music.

2003-2005

Carolyn went on a co-heading tour in 2003 with Keith Urban. While on tour she wrote songs for her next album “Dress Rehearsal”,  released in 2004. Later that year she received seven CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association) award nominations and won 5.

In 2005, Carolyn Dawn Johnson left Artisa Nashville stating “what they wanted me to do is not who I am.”

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

2006 – 2009

By 2006 she released her third album “Love and Negotiation” under Angeline Entertainment, a Canadian record label. At the CCMA awards in 2007 Carolyn was named “Female Vocalist of the Year”. Love & Negotiation was eventually released in the US by Dancing Lily Music, on October 13, 2009.

2010 – 2013

Johnson released a single “Let me Introduce Myself” from her next upcoming album “Love Rules”. The Album Love Rules was released on July 21, 2010 in the US and on Aug 10, 2010 it was released in Canada. Carolyn received “Female Artist of the Year” and “Album of the Year” for her Love Rules album. She also received “Female Artist of the Year” in both 2012 and 2013.

Recent years

Carolyn has been involved with another band JD & The Straight Shot. She started touring with them in 2018 and in 2019 became an official member of the band. They have just released an new album “The Great Divide” You can check out a live stream of the new album here.

Merritt’s Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame

Merritt BC is the Country Music Capital of Canada. Downtown Merritt BC Canada is home of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame, the “Merritt Murals”, and the “Walk of Stars” have transformed Downtown Merritt BC into the largest country music art gallery you will ever have the pleasure of  experiencing in Canada. 

Take a selfie with your favorite country music artists and send them to us at @experiencenicolavalley on social media. Another Merritt BC Canada Attraction is the Walk of Stars.  There are 100+ hand prints and even one foot print that have been cast in bronze for prosperity located throughout the community of Merritt BC Canada. Do you know who the foot print belongs to? 

The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery.  You can find the Carolyn Dawn Johnson – Merritt BC Mural at 1701 Voght Street which is the Home Hardware building.

For more info and stories about the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame – Merritt BC Murals please go to Experience Nicola Valley.

Say hi on social media and let Carolyn Dawn Johnson know you saw her on Experience Nicola Valley. Better yet send her a selfie of you with her mural here in Merritt BC. Carolyn Dawn Johnson can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Merritt BC Murals – Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

Blog

Experience Nicola Valley

Travel Website

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Tanya Tucker – Merritt BC Murals

Find Tanya Tucker in Spirit Square in the Center of Our Town!

 “I know I’ve found…A place in space where I belong” Tanya Tucker

 

Merritt BC Canada Murals – Tanya Tucker made it center stage not only in major music venues around the world for decades, but right here in outdoor small town BC. Tanya Tucker’s visage is on display right in the middle of our town in Spirit Square, a place often filled with live music. Tanya’s flowing hair and engaging smile attracts a lot of attention, from locals and visitors alike. 

Merritt BC is the Country Music Capital of Canada, and besides the incredible live music we get here, our town is alive with large and colorful murals of both Canadian and American musicians and performers. As a result people come from far and wide to our see our murals and visit our music festival community.

Merritt BC Canada Murals - Tanya Tucker

Jano Howard (Experience Nicola Valley) / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

“I’m the Singer, You’re the Song…”

That song was on the playlist of my early adult years, I listened to it at the beach, driving down country roads, and at dances. I probably still have that vinyl album. In short, I loved her moody country/rock voice!

Consequently, Tanya has released almost 30 albums since 1972. It was during that year she released her first album “Delta Dawn”.

And promises of more to come…

Tanya is considered a country singer, first and foremost, but crossed into the pop/rock genre and gathered more fans along the way. Her music was influenced by some major talents, including Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, the Eagles, and Glen Campbell. She was nominated several times for awards from the Country Music Association.

Her lifelong success has been marked with many Top 10 hits and Top 40 hits. In 2002, Tanya Tucker was ranked #20 on CMT’s 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.

Merritt BC Murals - Tanya Tucker Selfie

Edgy, Classic, Country

These three words head up Tanya Tucker’s website. And they suit Tanya for sure.

Tanya Denise Tucker, was born in Seminole, Texas.  At the age of six she began taking saxophone lessons, then started singing. She knew from the time she was a child, that she wanted to be a country singer when she grew up. Tanya and her family lived in Arizona, then Utah, and then the family moved to Las Vegas, where Tanya performed regularly.

In 1972, Tanya had her first hit, “Delta Dawn” at the age of 13! Two more hits followed quickly, “Love’s the Answer” and “What’s Your Mam’s Name”. And soon Tanya was established as a major star.

Merritt BC Canada Murals - Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker – Spirit Square – Downtown Merritt / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

MCA Records

In 1975, MCA Records snapped her up and a string of country hits followed.

Her music and image changed in the late 70’s, widening into the pop/rock genre. The move was surprising to her fans, but was a successful career move over all. However things did slow down for Tanya and her life took several turns until the late 80’s when she returned to country, but pop-styled, and this brought Tanya back to popularity.

“…I just reconnected with my fans, and gathered a few more — now I want to gather a bunch more! I’m not satisfied.”

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

In 1989, Tanya Tucker released a “Greatest Hits” album, and she has continued to release albums and perform.

Her last album with new material was “Tanya” released in 2002. She more recently, in 2009, made a classic covers album, “My Turn”.”You’re gonna hear from me.”

From news I read recently, after several years without an album release, Tanya has one in the works along with a documentary. It’s a long time coming according to her fans.

According to my sources, like Country Daily, Tucker is very engaged when talking her upcoming projects. She says, “If I could do every album I wanted to do, it’d take me 50 years…I want to do a duet album, a classic album with classic songs, of course a Christmas album…And maybe a spiritual album.”

“Hell,” she adds, “I’m busier than a one-legged man in an (butt)-kicking contest, I’m telling you! I need about three or four more hands and about six more pair of feet. But I’m doing what I can do.”

And here’s a project Tanya seems very happy with…

“I used to be a wild thing…”

Country legend Tanya Tucker is launching her own tequila brand, Cosa Salvaje. The singer partnered with Elle France, the founder of Cosa Salvaje, which translates to “wild thing” in Spanish.

“I used to be a wild thing, now I just drink a wild thing!” Tanya Tucker said in a press release. “I truly love the taste of Cosa Salvaje and certainly wouldn’t be partnering with it if it didn’t pass my taste test… the agave and distilling process is environmentally conscious, so we’re taking care of our planet too.”

Each bottle of Cosa Salvaje tequila is made from recycled glass.

From Cision, and other sources…

Will Tanya come to Merritt?

She has been here already! More than once.

Tanya Tucker performed at our infamous “Merritt Mountain Music Festival” in the late 90’s.  And she was in town in 2006 to unveil her stunning mural!

I would love her to visit again… Hey Tanya!

I checked her upcoming events list and although six out of thirteen are here in Canada, none are close enough to head to for an evening’s drive…

So, we’ll download some Tanya Tucker oldies, and listen while we cruise our town, checking out the mural tour with other country superstars- like Carol Dawn Johnson, Paul Brandt, Dolly Parton, and Elvis!

And when we stop for near the Spirit Square, we’ ll check out the Walk of Stars too. But that’s another story.

Merritt BC Canada Murals – Tanya Tucker

The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”, a project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery.

  • To visit Tanya’s site, where you can listen to some of her music, click here.
  • For a list of songs by Tanya Tucker go to Songs Tube.
  • The Tanya Tucker Facebook 
  • Tanya Tucker on Twitter (27.600 Followers)
  • Other sources about Tanya: The Most Coveted, Wikipedia, All Music, and our own locals: Susan Roline and Melvina White.
  • For more info on our Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, read Melvina White’s blog. Melvina has been bringing live music to town for decades.
  • For more blogs on the many murals/artists scattered around our community, stay tuned to our Experience Nicola Valley site!

Come and visit!

Take in the Rockin River MusicFest, our country music festival, around the beginning of August every year.

Tickets sold out? Pop in to our weekly Open Mic at the Kekuli Cafe. Have a bannock while you are there….

Keep an eye on my Facebook page, Creative Community, to see what creativity is up in town.

And definitely tour the town of Merritt, to visit all our Country and Western murals featuring stars like Tanya Tucker!

As the Arts and Culture Blogger for Experience Nicola Valley. I am thrilled to talk about our live music history, our community public art-like the murals, and the participation of our locals and visitors to bring the Arts alive in the Nicola Valley!

Yours in creativity, Jano

Merritt Downtown Mural Walking Tour

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

Blog

Experience Nicola Valley

Travel Website

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Merritt Murals in the Nicola Valley

Country Music Band – Lonestar

“I’m already there,” Lonestar Country Music Lyrics

The Merritt BC Murals is proud to feature the country music band Lonestar. It is a result of the band having one of the country music murals in Merritt BC Canada. First, before we move on, I would like to thank you for the QR download.  Secondly, I am excited to share their story. 

Tania Stewart (Experience Nicola Valley) / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

Whats In A Name – Lonestar

Lonestar hails from Texas, USA. Hence why the country music band first decided to name their band “Texassee”, after their home state. But, soon later, they quickly changed the name to Lonestar. 

The Early Years Of Lonestar

Early on in the band’s career, their sound was a mixture of honky-tonk and neo-traditional country influences. Consequently, Lonestar has compared their own debut album to the sounds of Merle Haggard and George Jones. However, soon later, their country music shifted towards a country pop sound with strong melodies and rich vocals. 

Music Awards Before The Merritt Murals

As a result of their sound, they released their self-titled debut album in 1995. After that their first single from the album, “Tequila Talkin'” reached No. 8 on the Billboard Charts. Above all, their proudest moment,  the album produced the group’s first No. 1 song, “No News”. 

Likewise 1999 Keeps Bringing Success

In 1999 they won the ACM Single of The Year for “Amazed”.  That was quickly followed up in 2001 with the CMA “Vocal Group of the Year”. Then came the 2017 Peoples Choice Award for “Favourite Country Group”. After that, and most impressively, they amassed sales in excess of ten million albums. 

Most Recognized Country Music Songs

For instance Lonestars most recognized songs include Amazed, Tequila Talkin’ , No News, I’m Already There, My Front Porch Looking In, What About Now, Walking In Memphis, Mr. Mom, Lets Be Us Again, as well as Every Little Thing She Does.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo Too

In Short  – The Band Rocks It

The original 5 band members first began touring and playing together in Nashville in 1993. And by 1994 they were signed by BNA Records. Certainly a big moment for them.  The band included members Richie McDonald, John Rich, Dean Sams, Michael Britt, as well as, Keech Rainwater.

Richie Vance McDonald

Feb 6, 1962 · Lubbock, TX, USA.  Country music singer/songwriter, as well as, the lead singer from 1998 until his departure in 2007. Also co-wrote several of the band’s singles, and sang lead on all but one of them. Richie rejoined the band in 2011.  

John Rich

Jan 7, 1974, Amarillo, TX.  From 1992 to 1998 John was a member of the band. He played bass guitar and on some songs he was the lead vocalist. After departing from the band, Rich embarked on a solo career with BNA Records.  

Dean Sams

Aug 3,1966. Garland, TX, USA .  Keyboards & backing vocals. Also an actor and composer, known for “Maybe Someday”,” Cedar Cove” and “Static”.

Michael Wayne Britt

June 15, 1966. Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Lead guitar & backing vocals. Michael, the actor, also shared his talents on the television hit daytime series,” Days of Our Lives”,  as well as,  a stint as a comedian (2002).  

Keech Rainwater

January 24, 1963. Plano, Texas, USA. Randy Keech Rainwater plays the drums. Also, did a stint as an actor on “Days of Our Lives” and performed, ” The Song that Changed My Life”(2012).

Cody Collins

Further more Cody Collins joined the group in September 2007.  

As A Matter Of Fact

  • First, both McDonald and Britt  appeared on ” Wheel of Fortune”  recorded at the Grand Ole Opry house in Nashville, incidentally  both winning the bonus round.
  • In addition they respectively donated $61,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and $59,350 for Adopt-a-Platoon.

Lonestar Is More Than Country Music

  • Third, the group also appeared on The Price Is Right, June 17, 2010. They performed the show’s theme song, along with a sample of songs from” Party Heard Around the World”.
  • After that Richie, Britt and Rainwater were guest stars on “Honkey Tonk Central” 2014. 

Merritt Country Music Fest 

Because Lonestar performed at the Merritt Country Music Fest in 2005 (now called the Rockin’ River Music Fest) we know them well. Not to mention that the band’s amazing harmony, beautiful lyrics, and upbeat sound attracted country music fans from around the world to our community of Merritt.

Lonestar sums it up best ” True country music isn’t about music that the fans like, it’s about playing what’s in your heart and soul.” 

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Capital of Canada

As of  January of 2009, the CCMA signed an agreement with the Merritt Walk of Stars to establish a physical venue in Merritt BC celebrating Canadian country music. What we see today, as a result of this agreement, is a beautiful venue with a culmination of plaques, artifacts and exhibits from inductees of the past, present and future.

Downtown Merritt Murals

Downtown Merritt provides visitors a unique experience when exploring our community. Certainly, there are the murals. The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery. 

Then follow up your sightseeing experience by browsing some of our local shops, cafes, historical pubs, as well as, Merritt’s Signature Attraction, the Country Music Hall of Fame

In Short Come and Visit Merritt BC

Further more we encourage you to check out some of other murals in town too. Go ahead and download your favorite country music stars using the QR codes. Not to mention this also includes the Walk of Stars. Why? Because they too have QR codes. 

Moreover There Is More … 

Moreover feel free to learn more about Lonestar online at any of the other great pages including their website,  and Facebook page

Merritt BC Canada Mural Digital Walking Tour

 

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

Blog

Experience Nicola Valley

Travel Website

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Aaron Pritchett Country Music Artist – Merritt Murals

Downtown Merritt Mural Walking Tour

“I Grew To Love Country Music Because Of The lyrics”. Aaron Pritchett

Merritt BC Murals features country music artist Aaron Pritchett who was born on August 2, 1970 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. By the same token, Aaron grew up and was raised in Kitimat, BC, Canada – a coastal community in the northwestern region of British Columbia.

Aaron’s love of music didn’t start with country music. Growing up he would listen to the rock ‘n’ roll legends of his parents like Elvis, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, Van Morrison, and James Brown. Correspondingly, as Aaron grew older, Canadian acts from the 1980’s, especially Bryan Adams, were a major influence as well. Consequently Pritchett’s single ‘DRIVE’ was co-written by Bryan Adams and British writer Phil Thornalley.

“Def Lepperd, AC/DC, bands like that; they are all a big part of the rockier licks I use in my songs today. I grew to love country music because of the lyrics . The songs are all about true life experiences.” Aaron Pritchett

Merritt BC Murals

Aaron Pritchett – Featured artists of Merritt BC Murals

Working The Road

Aaron Pritchett started his career as a DJ at Rooster’s Country Cabaret in Pitt Meadows, BC. As a result of his DJ career, he also played in a house band throughout BC and Alberta playing cover tunes.

Aaron Pritchett Big Break

In 2001 everything changed for Aaron.  In short he enter a singing contest called “Project Discovery” sponsored by CMT (Country Music Television). Most importantly Aaron won $10,000 in cash, and a professional music video directed by internationally acclaimed director, Steven Goldmann.

Aaron put his winnings towards recording his first album “Consider This”. The title track from the album was co-written by Pritchett and BC country music legend Rick Tippe. After that he got to record three songs with one of Canada’s top producers, Tom McKillip. In short, it was then, when Aaron Pritchett won the Project Discovery Talent Contest, at the Canadian Country Music Awards, he started receiving national recognition and attention.

Aaron Pritchett

Aaron Pritchett on City Furniture Building / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

Country Music Charts Recognizes Aaron Pritchett

Pritchett was now on a roll with some of his songs climbing to the top of the charts. As a result his success continued to grow with the release of his next albums – “Something Going On Here” in 2003 and “Big Wheel” in 2006. During this period of Aaron’s country music career he toured promoting his albums to his growing fan base.

“Combine humble, driven, talented, great songwriter and a focused artist together and you have Aaron Pritchett.”

Merritt BC Murals Connection

Merritt, British Columbia, Canada has played a big roll in Aaron’s career. Not to mention Aaron has played a big roll in building Merritt’s country music brand. For instance, Aaron Pritchett was a regular attraction over the 17 years of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now the Rockin’ River Country Music Fest). His debut performance at the festival was on the “The Little Big Stage” in 1993.

Pritchett said, “the times I performed in Merritt were quite an experience”.

Winning Independent Male Artist of the Year at the CCMA’s in 2004 and then Songwriter of the Year in 2007 put Aaron on the country music map. His winning single ‘Hold My Beer’ was not the song Aaron and his co-writers thought would ever make it big. Were they surprised.

Record Label Signing

604 Records, the production company of Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, signed Aaron Pritchett to a label in 2008. Soon after, the “Thankful” album was released on September 9, 2008. Aaron promoted this album on a tour of Western Canada with Toby Keith and Jessie Farrel.

Aaron released his next album “In the Driver’s Seat” on November 9, 2010, under his own record label Decibel Music. Pritchett’s first greatest hits album, “Body of Work: A Collection of Hits”, was released on May 12, 2015 under Big Star Recordings.

In June 2016, Pritchett released the album “The Score”.  Moreover, the title commemorated his 20th year recording and the anniversary of his first album . The lead off single “Dirt Road In Em” went on to become #6 on the country music charts and was earmarked as a comeback single in Pritchett’s career. The second release from the album, “Out Of The Blue” followed suit reaching #9 on the charts. The release of “When A Momma’s Boy Meets A Daddy’s Girl”, climbed the charts and sat at #10 on the Canada Country Billboard for 8 weeks. Because of the results of Aaron’s efforts he was nominated in 2017 for Country Album of the Year at the Juno Awards.

The Country Music Team

Aaron is often heard praising his team for all his success. In addition Aaron credits his success, in the early part of his career, to Country Music Television and radio airplay. In addition, Aaron credits each and every fan that has supported him along the way. An early highlight of his career, was playing for an audience of 20,000 people in Ontario, Canada and listening to them singing along with his songs. 

“Without a team it is impossible to reach your goals.” Aaron Pritchett

Above all Aaron credits industry icon Heather Ostertag for much of his success. Heather is the Past President of FACTOR, Past President of the CMAO and owner of Heather Ostertag and Associates.

“Without Heather, many aspects of my career would never have happened. She has been a major supporter, a strong mentor and one of my best friends to this day. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for believing in me.” Aaron Pritchett

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Recognition as a Canadian Country Music Artist

To sum it up nicely, Aaron is considered, one of Canada’s favourite entertainers and all around good guy. Firstly, he has been honored with multiple Canadian Country Music Association, Juno and British Columbia Music Association nominations and awards. Secondly, some of the hardware he has taken home include Independent Male Artist, Independent Song, Entertainer, Male Artist, Album and Group of the Year Awards.

Aaron Pritchett has earned his title as one of Canada’s most energetic and electrifying entertainers in the industry. Most importantly, to all of us here in Merritt BC, Aaron has been a staunch supporter of The Merritt Walk of Stars, The Merritt Mural Project and The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Merritt Walk Of Stars

Hundred’s of International and National Country Music Artists have performed at the annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival over the 17 years of the festival. As a result, those stars left their mark permanently in Merritt BC by creating hand prints (or, in one case, footprints) accompanied by signatures. Each artist print is encased in concrete stars.

In 2003, those hand prints became the motivation behind the Merritt Walk of Stars – a self guided walking tour throughout the community . More importantly, the project helped solidify Merritt BC, Canada, as the Country Music Capital of Canada. Today, more than 100 bronze stars are located in plaques throughout the community. Aaron Pritchett created his star in 2004.

“It is huge to get a star,” he said. “It a real honour to be among the artists who have made stars in Merritt. As well as be recognized among some of the names that are included, in The Walk of Stars.”

Merritt Mural Walking Tour

The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery. These beautiful works of art can be seen all over downtown Merritt BC.

Therefore, as a result, not only did the program serve to enrich our society, but it helped to transform Merritt BC, Canada into the largest outdoor country music art gallery you’ll ever visit. Subsequently, Aaron had his mural painted and sits on the wall of City Furniture on Voght street in Downtown Merritt, BC.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Capital of Canada

Merritt, BC Canada has its own history of cowboys, cattle ranches and country experiences. Country music is a part of the heritage and country lifestyle of Merritt, BC, Canada. Because Merritt has hosted an annual Country Music Festival for many years, it consequently became branded as the Country Music Capital of Canada. There was a short festival hiatus from 2012 to 2014. As a result Rockin River Music Festival took over the festival in 2015 and, since then, every August long weekend people come to Merritt for some top quality country music.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

The Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame opened in Merritt, BC Canada in 2009. In 2012, it became an arm of the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society in order to create a venue to display artifacts related to the inductees of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. As a result, in 2018, there is a total of 139 inductees in the Merritt Hall of Fame.

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame is located in Downtown Merritt, BC, Canada on 2025 Quilchena Avenue. Moreover, make the effort to visit the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame and enjoy their  displays of your favorite artist inductees.

Make the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame your starting point for your visit to Merritt, British Columbia, Canada, as well as, visit our downtown coffee shops, restaurants and local shops for a unique shopping experience.

In addition say hi to Aaron on social media and let him know you met him here on Experience Nicola Valley. Further more, Aaron can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to send us a selfie of you with his mural too.

Downtown Merritt Mural Walking Tour

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

Blog

Experience Nicola Valley

Travel Website

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Merritt Murals and Downtown Walking Tour

Featured Country Music Musician : Reba McEntire

“It’s very important to surround yourself with people you can learn from.” Reba McEntire

Merritt Murals – Reba McEntire is one of the more than 25 murals in the community of Merritt, BC, Canada in the Nicola Valley. Furthermore, Merritt is the “Country Music Capital of Canada” and enjoys one of the largest outdoor country music art walks in Canada. The community mural walking tour is complimented by Merritt’s Signature Attraction, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Reba McEntire is an American singer songwriter, actress and record producer. Her career began in high school with band, at rodeo’s and on local radio shows with her siblings.

Reba McEntire Mural in Merritt BC Canada

Michelle Bacon (Experience Nicola Valley) / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

Pre Merritt Mural – Reba McEntire

It started out slow for this country music icon. For example Reba’s first single ” I Don’t Want to Be a One Night Stand” was released on January 22 1976. After that came her second single “There’s Nothing Like Love Between a Women and a Man.” and her third single “Glad I Waited Just for You”. To sum it up, none of the songs broke the Top 80 on the billboard charts. After that Reba’s self titled album released in March 1977 didn’t even make the billboard charts. 

“Out of a Dream” Reba’s second album did much, much better. It was released in 1979. The album cover of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams” became Reba’s first top twenty hit. 

Reba McEntire’s Year Of Country Music Awards

Her first certified Gold Album was “Just a Little Love.” As a result this album earned Reba her first Country Music Association Award for Female Vocalist of the Year.

“You’ve got to stay current and up with the competition. The main thing, though, is finding the greatest songs you can possibly find.” Reba McEntire

Reba’s 9th studio album got rave reviews. For instance her title track “Whoever is New England” became number one on the Billboard Country Music Chart. Consequently it earned Reba a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance the following year.

Reba has had hit after hit over the years. Most selling in the millions. She received a CMA Award for Best Female Vocalist four years in a row from 1984 to 1987. She followed this up with the 1990 “Rumor Has It” release and by 1999 it was certified Triple Platinum. 

“Be different, stand out, and work your butt off.” Reba McEntire

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Reba McEntire is referred to as “The Queen of Country”. She has released 29 studio albums, 42 number one singles, as well as, 16 number one albums. In short, a sure sign of her success, is when the Recording Industry Association of America certified 28 of her 29 albums as either Gold, Platinum or Multi Platinum status. 

Tragedy Strikes Reba And Her Band

Reba, her family and her band had a tragic blow on March 16, 1991. A plane carrying half of their band crashed into the side of a mountain just after take off.  McEntire was devastated but continued on. Her music helped her deal with the grief with the release of “For My Broken Heart”. Reba dedicated this album to the deceased band members.

“For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness.” Reba McEntire

Reba’s Life In Television

In 2001 Reba stared in a half hour television sitcom “Reba”. She played a divorced mother of a teenager. In the show Reba is learning how to handle the divorce, her ex-husbands new and pregnant wife as well as her teenager whom also becomes pregnant. If you have ever watched it you will agree Reba is quite the comedian.  “Reba” ran for six seasons finally being cancelled in February 2007.  The season finale had 8.7 million viewers.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Merritt Murals – Reba McEntire

In 2007 Country Music Artist, Reba McEntire made the trip to Merritt BC Canada. Reba performed on the main stage at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now the Rockin’ River Music Fest).

Merritt Murals – Reba McEntire was painted by Master Muralist Michelle Loughery in 2006. These beautiful works of art can be seen all over downtown Merritt BC. While you’re out and about visit the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame also located in Downtown Merritt.

Each mural has a QR code which links you to this and other blog stories from Experience Nicola Valley. Each mural provides more information on different country music singers featured throughout Downtown Merritt BC Canada.

The Reba McEntire Merritt BC Canada Mural can be found at 2101 Quilchena Avenue on the side of Copper Valley Mechanical building. The Merritt Murals in the Nicola Valley have become such a wonderful part of our community. We are always on the lookout for new ones and excited to find out who will be next.

Another great attraction to see while your walking the Merritt BC Murals is the Walk of Stars. The stars include over 100 hand prints and even one foot print of country music artists and industry insiders. Downtown Merritt has many great shops to find that amazing and special gift too. Our main local artisans are featured throughout the downtown stores.

Early Years Of Reba

Reba McEntire was born in McAlester, Oklahoma on March 28, 1955. Reba and her siblings grew up on their parents 8000 acre ranch. Her mother Jacqueline spent many years helping teach the to sing and harmonize. Her father was engaged in a rodeo career. 

While in grade 9 Reba and two of her siblings created their first group and performed at Rodeos. Although the group didn’t last. Reba continued her solo career through her college years.

Connect with Reba McEntire

You can find Reba McEntire on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and her website.

Merritt Murals and Downtown Walking Tour

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

Blog

Experience Nicola Valley

Travel Website

Merritt BC Non-Profits  

Community Futures Engagement Fair 2019, a real success!

 

“It was a lively, colorful, noisy-with-talk event…”

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Conayt Friendship Society

Merritt BC Non-Profits are like non-profits everywhere…contributing to the vitality of their community! These essential groups provide the good works and the enjoyment that cities, towns, and villages need and want. As my partner always said in his coffee paper, the Merritt Morning Mirror, “Have some fun, do some good!”

Last weekend, Community Futures Nicola Valley put on a great event showcasing the Merritt BC Non-Profits. The Nicola Valley has a lot of non-profit groups and the Civic Center was full of tables, volunteers, posters, pamphlets and sign up sheets…. 

Non Profits depend on volunteers….

Non-Profits depend on volunteers, the heart-blood of any organization. And that March Saturday was a congregation of well-doing individuals, committed to providing good works, and fun to young and old. General organizations and specific, from the Chamber of Commerce, to the Curling Club, to the Old Time Fiddlers, were represented at this successful event by dedicated volunteers.

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Merritt Dance Society

 

What Merritt BC Non-Profit group do you belong to?

Almost everyone I know belongs to one, or more, of the Merritt BC Non-Profits. So the Civic Center was full of friends and colleagues, all dispensing info and enticing passers-by to be a part of their organization.

I did my part at the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council tables, helping with set up. And I did my best to stay put at the table and tell people what we are up to and wave membership forms at potential participants. And as I wandered myself, I gathered info and stories from the reps at the tables. 

There were groups there I had heard of, but hadn’t chatted with. And groups I have participated with since I moved to town with my just-starting family in 1979!

I know a lot of these groups…

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Merritt Centennials Hockey

So I found that I know a lot of these groups, and the volunteers who run them and their events.

I attend Community Futures events. I am a Patreon for the Love to Dance Academy and their organization the Merritt Dance Society. The Old Time Fiddlers’ get-togethers at the Seniors Center get my support with announcements and posters. I encourage friends to spectate and cheer for the Centennials Hockey Team. I participate in Chamber of Commerce Friday Night Markets, send interested beginning entrepreneurs to CFNV, give kudos and items to the local Nicola Health Care Auxiliary.  Groups like the Search and Rescue, Scw’exmx Family Services, Nicola Valley Food bank, and the Citizens Patrol do so much good in the community! 

I bought my membership for the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society there, one of my favorite non-profits in the community. I have loved volunteering at and supporting the Country Music Hall of Fame over the years.

While I was wandering, taking photos for my personal no-profit endeavor, Creative Community, I was impressed with the time and energy all the groups took with their displays. Several groups even had technology set up…TV’s displaying videos and slide presentations, like the beautiful, so-local, and very-worthwhile Nicola Valley Fall Fair Association.

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Nicola Valley Fall Fair Association

Bricks for Sale…

Let’s stop for a moment here and let you know, if you don’t already – the Nicola Valley Fall Fair Association is fundraising for an Infrastructure and Washroom Facility. This is a much-needed essential for this organization, and for the whole town! I would like to encourage all of us to get behind this fundraiser, and look after the basic needs of all the visitors, local and not, attending one of the oldest and most beloved events in our community, and in so many rural communities. 

(A bracketed appeal…

A while back I attended a Chamber of Commerce Grant Writing Workshop, and really enjoyed being in the room with other groups detailing their needs in a grant writing session. From requests for bathroom facilities to setting up programs for kids with special needs, to support for young musicians and artists I was impressed with the dedication of these volunteers to our community well-being.

That workshop and this Community Futures Community Engagement Fair offered insight into the complex and worthwhile projects our community is willing to dedicate their time to and are willing to work on.

But let me say that groups in our community that are working to provide basic necessities like a place to pee, is needed as much as, OR MORE THAN (or at least BEFORE) the enhanced events and activities we are all working on. We can’t invite people to our events without providing the basics. So, if you hear of a group asking for bathroom facilities, perk up your ears and reach for your wallet.

Thank you. This has been a public service announcement…or a-pee-l.)

For this Fall Fair Association worthy fundraiser… buy a brick for $10! Call 250-378-7270

 

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Networking at the Community Engagement Fair

Merritt BC Non-Profits Opportunity to Network!

It was a lively, colorful, noisy-with-talk event, and afterward the feedback about it was…great! A GREAT opportunity, not just to inform and invite the general public to participate in the non-profits, but to network and exchange possibilities with like-minded groups populating the room at the Civic Center. 

After cruising the room, taking photos, enjoying the chats, listening to the music by the Community Choir, the Old Time Fiddlers, the Strings Plus, and watching the dancers from Love to Dance, I settled in at the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council table, the non-profit where I spend most of my volunteer hours. 

NVCAC’s Nicola Valley Talent Network project…more info coming!

We talked to lots of people about our Nicola Valley Talent Network project. So exciting! Got a talent? Are you an artist? A musician? A performing artist? Into theater? Or aspiring…? Get in touch with us at nvcac.talent@gmail.com 

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

By the way, at the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council’s home, at the old Courthouse, 1840 Nicola Avenue we have basic facilities. Come and visit us there! We are busy reaching out to the community for interaction, memberships from individuals, groups, and businesses at the Courthouse, and also at events like the Community Futures Community Engagement Fair

  • Visit us at the Courthouse Arts Gallery! Thursday to Saturday 12-6pm
  • Want to put on an art show? (Booking almost a year ahead!) Email nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com
  • Got an arts program you want to develop? Email nicolavalleyartscouncil@gmail.com
  • Want to know more about the local Arts Council? Visit our website!
  • Want to Plan and Relax with creativity? Tuesday mornings with me (Jano) at the old Courthouse. Call 250-315-3437
  • Visit my Creative Community facebook page.

Have a creative, satisfying day! 

Your Arts and Culture…and Non-Profits fan Blogger, Jano Howarth

Let’s get out there and…. Have Some Fun, Do Some Good!

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Jen from Creature Comforts and Mischelle for Nordic Ski Club, networking

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Nicola Valley Search and Rescue

Community Futures Nicola Valley

 

One of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe

Kekuli Cafe, Merritt, BC

“Don’t panic….we have bannock”

One of the best places to eat in Merritt is Kekuli Cafe. “Don’t panic… we have Bannock” is the official slogan of Kekuli Cafe in Merritt BC. A wonderful place to enjoy a number of indigenous foods.

Before we dive into the amazing food I’d like to treat you to a look at the amazing skor bannock. You have got to try one.

skor bannock kekuli cafe merritt bc

Ohhh so yummy Skor bannock from Kekuli Cafe

How Kekuli was born?

It all started when for many years Sharon Bond wanted to own her own restaurant. Having a passion for cooking, baking and making people feel welcome. Sharon also had a passion for helping and pleasing people.

With all the other places to eat in Merritt Sharon knew she wanted to create a place like no other. Therefore that’s exactly what she did.

The Cafe

Sharon wanted a traditional cultural aboriginal ambiance. Low light pow wow music, aboriginal art, jewelry and of course aboriginal cuisine. She wanted a place where everyone would feel welcome and acknowledged. Along with her husband Darren Hogg they created one of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe.

You definitely feel welcomed from the moment you walk in the doors of Kekuli Cafe.

The Name Kekuli.

It was quite interesting to find out where the name Kekuli came from. Sharon was looking for a unique name that would have an aboriginal flair to it. While reading a book by James Teit she came across the word “kekuli” which means house. Right away she knew that was the name and sent in paperwork to have it registered that day. 

The Thompson Indians used to live in these pit house( Kekuli’s)  hundreds of years ago.  These houses are build into the ground with logs, tule, dirt and grass. They were a safe, warm and happy place. That also protected the people from the elements during harsh winters.

You can still find Kekuli’s throughout the Thompson/Okanagan areas.

Kekuli Cafe pit house bannock

Photo Credit: Kekuli Cafe

Now however you can also find that warm inviting feeling of home in every Kekuli Café.

Franchise

The next step in Sharon and Darren’s endeavor was to start creating franchises. With the first being sold in December of 2018.

On Dec 1, 2018 Elijah Mack, just 22 years old, started living his dream by becoming the very first Kekuli franchise owner.  When asked what he wanted to be in 10 years he would say “I want to be my own boss.” Now Elijah is the proud owner of one of the best places to eat in Merritt.

Kekuli Cafe franchise owner

Photo credit Kekuli Cafe

Saskatoon ice tea is wonderful and refreshing treat any time of year. I love the flavor. Makes me want another one just thinking about it. My daughters favorite it the saskatoon berry smoothie.

Kekuli Cafe saskatoon ice tea

Saskatoon berry ice tea. It was so refreshing.

They have a variety of Bannock available and some amazing lunches. Fry bread tipi tacos, grilled Bannock flatbread, bannowiches, and a variety of salads. Check out their menu here.

Lunch

Oh my goodness, look at this amazing meal. So nice to have a place where everything is made fresh with fresh ingredients.

bannock blt

BLT Bannock with cran apple feta salad

BLT bannock fresh

BLT bannock at Kekuli

This BLT bannock was so amazing. The bannock was soft and warm, lettuce and tomato were fresh and no skimping on the bacon which was cooked to perfection. Must say this was the best BLT I have had in a very long time. Along with my BLT I chose to have the cranberry, apple and feta salad. It was so crisp and fresh. Accompanying the salad was a saskatoon vinaigrette dressing made in house.  Perfect for this salad. 

salad cranberry apple feta

Cranberry, apple and feta salad.

Desert I had a skor bannock. It was so fresh and I have to say better than any doughnut I have ever had. I was very tempted to buy a whole bunch of them to take home. 

Happy customers

While I was visiting there were a group from White Rock who stopped in for lunch. They were extremely thrilled with the service. One lady spoke of how Kurt, chief at Kekuli Cafe, resonated such happy vibes. They really appreciated it and would come back again for sure.

Look at these happy faces.

kekuli cafe great food eat merritt

Guests from Whiterock having lunch at Kekuli in Merritt, BC

 The Staff

When you walk into Kekuli Cafe you are greeted by the amazing staff.  They always have a smile on their faces and are ready to help you any way they can.

staff kekuli cafe

Amanda and Kurt staff at Kekuli Cafe

Kekuli Cafe isn’t just on of the best places to eat in Merritt. Friday nights they have open mic night where patrons can come and express themselves over the mic. They have had people sing, tell stories or say a poem. It’s a great way to spend some time with friends, enjoy the local talent and of course have some coffee and bannock.

So far I have tried the traditional, cinnamon sugar and skor. What kinds have you tried?

Art work

Something else you will find a Kekuli Cafe is some art from a local artist Wyatt Collins. Wyatt has such a flair for life and creates some wonderful artwork which is featured on the walls of Kekuli Cafe. There are also greeting cards with Wyatt’s artwork on them. 

local art merritt bc kekuli cafe

Art work by local artist Wyatt Collins

Other aboriginal products

There are a number of aboriginal items for sale at Kekuli Café. Some of them include Jams, jellies, coffee, pottery and cards. Stop in and have a look.

Kekuli Cafe Merritt BC

Some other offerings from Kekuli Cafe

If you are interested in having a blog showcasing your business please feel free to contact me at Experience Nicola Valley.  I would love to chat.

One of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe

Art and Sound

Art of Sound-Nicola Valley Arts Gallery Show 

“Even the art on the wall seems filled with sound and music!” 

What a show! Come and see! 25 artists and musicians from the Nicola Valley have created and contributed sound-themed

Art of Sound

“Is this a Grandma Phone? by Michelle Lonsdale

paintings, sketches, dioramas, handmade instruments, and more…

For the month of February 2019, the Courthouse Arts Gallery is ringing with the sounds of singing bowls, Djembe drums, vinyl records, wooden flutes, Leonard George rattles, handmade stringed instruments, and original songs.

Even the art on the wall seems filled with sound and music!

Artists and musicians get creative!

We sent out the call to artists for the February Community Show, and received an interested and enthusiastic response!

Quietude

Evelyn Armstrong and Lin Butler Buchanan submitted black, white, and grey photos of nature – ice and stone, quiet and running water. Angelina Brooymans brought in photos of a grand piano and guitar playing. People are stopping at her photo of the piano at the Murray Church and reminiscing.

Jean Kiegerl’s black and white oil of quiet trees is a piece for reflection.

Art of Sound

Jean Kiegerl

Nancy Ellingsen brought in two reflective works, in dark tones – one an abstract and one I can’t stop looking at with its moody rainbow of colours.

Shirley Lindgren’s guzheng instrument is on display, and she is allowing people to try it, play it. Shirley also has contributed several of her peaceful nature photographs.

Lively Music!

There are lots of submissions that suggest joyful and lively music, like the “Jazz in the Attic” collection, created in an afternoon of fun and creativity at the gallery months ago.

And Shirley Reynold’s “Crescendo” sets a lively tone.

These paintings are surrounded by instruments available for playing sounds and music: rattles, chimes, wind chimes, bells, and claves.

Gale Simpson contributed her collection of brass singing bowls. Jane Bartle allowed us to display, and try, two of her flutes and a gorgeous crystal singing bowl.

Vicki Strom gathered several instruments for us, including an impressive steel drum from Kindred Spirits Steel Drums, in

Art of Sound

Vicki Strom and Shirley Lindgren’s interactive instruments

Robert’s Creek. This company makes the drums, with different scales, colours, and  prices. Their motto is Creating Vitality Through Sound. Very interesting website showing the drums made to different scales. Creative BC! And the shiny green steel drum is a hit at our Art of Sound show.

Original Music

Besides the original music being played as instruments are tried out, we have two of our local Nicola Valley songs displayed on sheet music (Thanks, Jane!).

Harley Carmen has set up an interactive display with his song and lyrics “Emmanuelle”. Kim Vizi-Carmen’s beautiful Maya Woman is displayed with Harley’s music.

We have CD’s from Harley Carmen and Quade Lindgren. Quade also contributed a guitar, and stands for display and was a great help with the set up of the show.

Handmade Instruments

Artist Mordichai of Red Blue Dreams, created a model of instruments that can easily be made at home, accompanied by instructions to do so, and quotes about music and sound, a favourite display of the children coming to see the show.

Local 1st Nations artist, Leonard George has created carved and painted wood rattles, all different, almost all available for sale. An eagle, a medicine wheel, a feather, a must-see!

Art of Sound

Ernie Pawliuk guitar

We are excited to have one of Ernie Pawliuk’s stunning guitars, displayed in our glass case. We have seen photos of Ernie’s guitar making in process so it is very interesting to see the work up close.

Amrit Ahuja also brought in a guitar he made in grade 8! Amrit’s two guitars on display have been decorated with Sharpie art! 

Fascinating Sound Wave Art

Amrit Ahuja, also an audio engineer, printed and framed a variety of the sound waves created from different instruments. And a sound wave form made by the words, “I Love You”. A fusion of sound and art.

Fun Art of Sound

Michelle Lonsdale painted a gramophone called “Is This a Grandma Phone?”. It is displayed over another display: a record player with a box of vinyl records you can choose from to play – oldies and spoken word, like Janis Joplin and poet John Masefield.

Q101 contributed a vintage sound board we have placed low enough for all ages to move the dials and pretend they are in

Art of Sound

“Jukebox” by Robert Moretti

charge of the sound…

And Robert Moretti’s two paintings are a colourful addition- a jukebox on a checkered floor, and a painting of a piano and a guitar, Cuban public art. We are already getting ideas from the Cuban piece…perhaps a wood carving for our own musical town?

Inspiration!

Art exhibitions are a place of potential inspiration. And so are live music events.

This show “Art of Sound” is both an inspiration for music making and art creation! It makes me want to hear more, see more, and learn more.

Some of our contributors speak eloquently on the effects of sound on our well being-physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The vibrations of sound and their effects have been studied and used for centuries. Vicki Strom brought in a book to go with her display, “Yoga of Sound”.

Some of the exhibition pieces are for sale! Check them out and add an original piece of local art to your walls!

Art of Sound Events

Reception done! Vanessa Trenholm catered a delicious table of food for our February 1st evening reception. Lots of people came and the rooms were filled with the sounds of…sound, music, chatting. Shirley Lindgren gave us demonstrations of her guzheng, a Chinese stringed instrument. And the group Strings Plus entertained our small crowd with their music, before gracing us with more at Open Mic later that evening.

Art of Sound

Singing Bowls from Gale Simpson

Upcoming Sound and Art Events at the Courthouse Arts Gallery

Feb 13, 6-7pm – Artist Talk with Artist/Sculptor Pius Chong. Come and Listen!

Feb 27, 7-9pm – Singing Bowls with Gale Simpson, and more sound exploration. 

And stay tuned for times for Raven Ritcey’s Djembe drumming in the Gallery. 

The Gallery is open Thursday to Saturday, 12-6pm.

And join the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council, if you haven’t already! 

 

And Join us!

There’s always great sound at our Open Mic Nights at Kekuli Cafe, Friday nights 7-9pm. And a special themed night tonight, February 8th. Love songs and poems. Songs of romance is our focus…

Hope to see you!

Jano Howarth

Experience Arts and Culture in the Nicola Valley!

Art of Sound

Art of Sound Poster

 

 First Nation Traditional Foods in Merritt BC

Nicola Valley British Columbia Canada First Nation Traditional Foods & Lodging

“We harvest berries in the traditional Nicola Valley areas, as well as, fish and hunt using the old ways and new ways.”

What type of First Nation traditional foods and lodging in the Nicola Valley have helped my people endure the hot summers and cold winters? My people, through many generations, have experienced the changing seasons of the Nicola Valley for generations. The extremes of our Nicola Valley weather systems have taught us many survival skills and have played a large part in growing our appreciation of our lands. How did the First Nation people survive is a journey I would like to share with you? 

My Ancestors Were Nomadic During The Spring, Summer, And Fall Seasons

My ancestors used to live throughout the Nicola Valley territory traveling in groups. Living a nomadic life on the move provided my people the food necessary to last through the long cold winter months. Families would gather together in our seasonal villages and enjoy cooking over the open  fire, and celebrating our traditions.

First Nation Traditional Foods and Lodging

Saskatoon berries I picked

We lived on berries …

First Nation traditional foods in Merritt and throughout the Nicola Valley consisted of berries like Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, choke cherries and soap berries.

And We Hunted And Fished…

My ancestors’ diet wasn’t limited to just berries. No… we also fished and hunted wild game. During the fall seasons, my First Nation people would fish the mighty Fraser River. My people of our village would catch enough fish to survive the long winters. During the entire year, dependent on the weather, village hunters pursued wild game while hunting with bows.

 How Did My People Preserve Their Traditional Foods In Merritt BC?

traditional foods and lodging

Tule mat lodging

    In the early days of my people we often preserved our traditional foods by drying it on specially made mats of tule reeds. Tule reeds were gathered during the winter months on the shores of nearby lakes. Properly prepared these reeds were used for drying and preserving many of our First Nation foods. My people would also make larger mats from the tule reeds to double as floors in their makeshift lean-to’s during the warmer months.

How Did The Nlaka’pamux People Carry All This Food?

traditional foods and lodging

Cedar Root basket

As gathers and hunters we required transportation of our goods. Before the introduction of horses to our culture by the Spaniards, my people would use dogs to transport our goods. Because we lacked horses at that time my people would walk to and from,  here and there with their dogs. The dogs would be saddled with food packed in ceder root baskets.

Where Did My People Live Back Then?

traditional foods and lodging

Traditional lodges made out of cedar bark at Tuckkwiowhum interpretive village in Boston Bar

My First Nation ancestors used all sorts of materials from the land and waters. Because of our nomadic nature we were often in need of a portable shelter.  In the summer months we used temporary shelters because of the ease of transportation moving from location to location. These portable lean-to’s were created out of fir boughs and tule mats. If the location required a longer stay my people would build these lean-to’s with cedar bark. 

What About The Winter? 

First Nation pit houses

Interior model of a traditional Sheeiskin

Those summer temporary shelters wouldn’t hold up to the long winters of the Nicola Valley. During the winter season our shelters would take on new materials to create a new kind of shelter more durable to the winter conditions.  This new shelter covered in earth is called a pit-house. In our first Nation tongue Nlaka’pamuxcin it is called a “Sheeiskin”

Lots of thought and planning went into these structures. They would spend weeks looking for a proper location, then, when they found an acceptable spot, the community would work together and help build a pit house.

The sheeiskins were typically conical in shape with a hole in the center, which would let the campfire smoke escape through the hole.  The First Nation men would enter down a ladder through the same center hole. while the women would enter through a side entrance. Each First Nation pit house could usually hold up to 3-4 families.  There are locations in the Nicola Valley where you can still see the pit houses left behind from old sheeiskins, like at Monck Provincial Park.

Traditional Ways Are Still Around

Our First Nation traditional foods and lodging made it possible for my ancestors to survive the four seasons of the Nicola Valley. 

traditional foods and lodging

Chokecherries I picked

Today we still harvest berries in the traditional areas and fish and hunt using the old ways – as well as the new. Our respect for our elders has never wavered.  Elders are given first servings of any food we have gathered, and they are the keepers of our history often sharing their stories of our traditional and cultural ways.

A questions I have for you:

What is the traditional name of the First Peoples in my own area?   

Please feel free to contact me with your answers. I always love learning about new cultures. 

Or, if you also are Nlaka’pamux, share your stories with me!

See you later!  

(In many First Nation’s languages there is no word for “Good-bye”, as that word may be interpreted as I will never see that person again.)