Aboriginal Day In the Nicola Valley

Celebrating Aboriginal Day in Merritt BC June 21, 2019

People in the Nicola Valley Celebrate Aboriginal Day

 

We celebrated Aboriginal Day in the Nicola Valley Merritt BC on June 21, 2019. Canada’s Governor General proclaimed the first National Aboriginal Day in 1996. Every year since then June 21 is the day for all Canadians to celebrate Canada’s  First Nation’s Aboriginal Peoples.

There are three Aboriginal groups in Canada – the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Celebrating Aboriginal Day in The Nicola Valley Merritt BC

Along with the pounding Heartbeat of Mother Earth, the Regalia worn by the dancers will surely amaze you. A great day at Merritt’s Rotary Park on June 21, 2019. In case you missed it here is my photo collage for you to enjoy.

Aboriginal Day June 21, 2019.

Aboriginal Dance Regalia

Regalia is unique and sacred to each dancer. Therefore not to be ever confused with or referred to as costumes. Regalia is adorned with various materials. Most noteworthy Regalia outfits feature intricate beadwork (often sewn by a family member or friend), while others use ribbons, shiny materials or the use of traditional materials, such as porcupine quills.  While the ceremonial dress is beautiful to look at, pow wow etiquette requests that observers not touch or take pictures of dancers’ regalia without permission.

 

Women Dancers in full Regalia.

Experiencing Aboriginal Day in The Nicola Valley.

Crystal Spahan with her children dressed in their traditional First Nation regalia.

Aboriginal Day

Crystal’s regalia hand sewn and made by her Aunt.

Aboriginal Day

Crystal Spahan with her two beautiful children in their Regalia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Handmade Regalia

Noteworthy Crystal  Spahan’s elaborate shawl is uniquely decorated with distinct flower patterns, beadwork along with flowing fringes.

 

Back on the Red Road for the last 2 years.

Pow Wow Dances are Expressions of Indigenous Spirituality, History and Culture

In addition with the festivities going on, Aboriginal Day is also a day of learning about Canada’s Indigenous culture.  In fact I was honored to meet Stuart Patrick preparing his sons Regalia along with his own. He was ensuring that their regalia was well-secured before their performance.  Furthermore, I was welcome to interview Stuart Patrick.

Stuart Patrick

(Q1)  Are you from the Nicola Valley?

(Stuart Patrick) I am from Uclue Let (U-Cloo-let) Vancouver Island. I went to 2 residential schools, Christy Residential in Tofino first, and then closed Kamloops Residential School down.

(Q2)  When did you start to dance?

(Stuart Patrick) I dance for survival. I have quit cutting my hair, I am done with mourning. We lost our Potlatch rights when I was seven. I have always chased the “Pow wow” We dance for the seven generations before us, and for the seven generations after us.
I started walking the “Red Road”. After the second year you pick what you want, like dancing, drumming. You join the circle for life.

 

Aboriginal Day

Raven Patrick. Pow wow clothing and accessories are created with great care and attention,  hold deep meaning and spiritual significance to the dancer.

(Q3)  Were did you get your Eagle feathers?

(Stuart Patrick) A Fire Fighter from Merritt found a dead Eagle and gave the feathers to me.

(Q4) Do your children also dance?

(Stuart Patrick) My son Jacob is wearing my first Regalia outfit. And my daughter Raven is wearing the blue Regalia outfit. They both perform regularly throughout BC. We go to Pow Wows and perform at University’s and College’s.

(Q5) Who makes your Regalia?

(Stuart Patrick) Janice Sheena and Abraham Sheena. The beadwork.

(Q6) What dances do you perform?

(Stuart Patrick) I do traditional potlatch mask dancing. The Humming Bird and the Chicken Dance.

 

Jacob Patrick with his father Stuart Patrick.

In Addition 

Aboriginal Day

Celebrating Indigenous Day in full Regalia. Merritt BC Rotary Park.

The Work and Detail that Goes Into These Beautiful Regalia Dress

Desiree Dick has been dancing since she was 3 yrs old. Along with her mother Adriene Johnny & sister Kirsten Dick (Hand Drummer at MSS) they all have a “Passion for the Pow Wow”.  Desiree’s Grandmother was the artist behind her Regalia.

 

Desiree Dick

With The Beating of The Drums and The Dancers Performance

While the  Dancers take great care to ensure that their regalia is well-secured before a performance. Losing a part of regalia during a dance could cost a dancer the competition. Although this day was not a competition, but the work and care is very visible.

Cliff…. Stuart Patrick and son Jacob.

Additionally More Beautiful Regalia

Nadine Jules with daughter.

Awesome attendance at Merritt Rotary Park on Aboriginal Day

Furthermore with the beating of the drums and performing dancers. Everyone in attendance had a amazing day!

Rotary Park

People enjoying the festivities.

Pounding of Your Heartbeat

Above all hearing the Drum beat along with the vocals gathers all peoples together, regardless of gender, belief, or race. The throbbing pull of the Drum connects us, one to another, with the pounding Heartbeat of Mother Earth.

The Drummers. Leanard Bear Shirt, Robin Boston, Nadine Jules, Joelee Meldrum, Nate Dawgg. Red Spotted Horse.

A Bit of Culture Education

Drumming has always played a significant role in education, healing, history and ceremonies of the Native American peoples. Oral histories and stories, accompanied by drumming, play a vital role in passing on ancestral traditions and customs to new generations.

Warming of the Drum.

The Sound of the Drums Could be Heard Through Out the Nicola Valley

Nate Dawgg. Drummer & Dancer

Additionally A Teepee Was Set Up For All To Enjoy

Getting in touch with my Aboriginal Heritage.

Celebrating Indigenous Culture

Especially seeing all the Regalia and the dancing can transform you back in time.

 

 

Full Regalia

After All

Proclaimed June 21  National Aboriginal Day in 1996. It is a day to celebrate Canada’s First Nation’s Aboriginal peoples. Make sure you mark your calendar next year, June 21.

Teepee set up at Merritt BC Rotary Park for Aboriginal Day Celebrations.

Aboriginal Day in the Nicola Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country Music Hall of Fame Artist on The Merritt BC Mural Walk – Terri Clark

Canadian Country Hall of Fame Artist – Terri Clark

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Clark says, “There’s no formula for making it – everyone has there own journey.”

Results Of A Vision

Country Music Hall of Fame Artist, Terri Clark with over 5 million albums sold, as well as critically acclaimed international tours, and a string of hit singles, has solidified her place in the history books of Canadian Country Music.

Together with being a three time Juno award winner, and Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee.  Clark also holds the honor of being the only Canadian female member of the legendary Grand Ole Opry.

Terri has been named CCMA Female Vocalist of the year, five times and has taken home eight CCMA Fan’s Choice Awards. In total Clark has had the honor of receiving 19 Canadian Country Music Awards.

Country Music Arist Terri Clark

Canadian Country Hall of Fame  Artist – Terri Clark

History Of The Star

Clark was born Terri Lynn Sauson on August 5, 1968 in Montreal Quebec, Canada. Her family moved and settled in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Raised in Medicine Hat, Terri is the third of four children. She has a younger brother Peter and two older sisters Kim and Tina. Terri`s parents divorced when she was young. Her mother remarried and Terri took on her stepfather`s last name.

Terri was part of a musical family. Ray and Betty Gautier, Clark`s grandparents, were both Canadian Country Musicians. They opened for numerous artist including George Jones and Johnny Cash. Her mother was a part of the folk scene playing coffee houses.

The Beginning of a Dream

Terri moved from Medicine Hat after graduation in 1987 to Nashville, Tennessee. She was 18 years old and moved lock, stock and barrel. She didn’t have a green card and didn’t know anybody. The only thing solid thing she took with her was a dream and some faith.

Once she hit Nashville she wandered into Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and asked if she could sing. She became the club’s house singer after management heard her sing. Even though this was a big step forward she wasn’t there yet. For the next seven years, she sang the clubs and worked odd jobs to survive. She never gave up and continued to try and land a record deal.

“At one point when things weren’t going all that great. I called my mom and I said, “I wanna come home.” She said, “Terri, if you do that, I don’t want you when you are 50 years old, to be sitting there going, “What woulda happened?”

Terri’s roots was traditional country. Traditional country at the time wasn’t something of interest to Country Music executives. But record producer and singer Keith Stegall gave her advice not to give up. Then in 1994, she landed an audition for Mercury Records. After seeing Clark perform live, the label’s president signed her on the spot.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Terri Clark Came Storming Out of Canada 1995-1997

Terri Clark came  out of Canada capturing the attention of America’s Country Music Industry.

Clark stayed close to her country roots, even if those roots were closer to new country than traditional country. Clark issued her first single, “Better things to do” in early 1995. The song reached the top five in both the United States and Canada.

Clark was an immediate success upon the release of her debut album in the summer of 1995.  The album featured “Better Things To Do”, “When Boy Meets Girl”, “If I were You” and  “Suddenly Single”. Terri supported the album with a tour opening for George Strait.

As a result, “If I Were You” became Clark’s first No. 1 hit in Canada in June 1996. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA in the United States on April 5, 1996 and Platinum on July 29, 1997.

In the fall of 1996, Clark’s second album “Just The Same” was released, following the album’s first single, “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” a cover of the 1976 Warren Zevon song. The single as well as the second single from the album “Emotional Girl,” reached number one in Canada with both songs reaching the top ten in the United States.

Picture: terriclark.com

Clark earned a nomination, for The Country Music Association’s Horizon Award, as well as the Academy of Country Music Awards Best New Female Vocalist, in the late summer of 1996. During late 1996, Clark earned the award, Single of the Year for “Better Things To Do” including Album of The Year for Terri Clark by the Canadian Country Music Association. She was also named. The Top New Female Artist of The Year by Billboard magazine.

1998 – 2001 Singing What She Knows And Feels

Clark’s third album, “How I Feel,” was released in May 1998. The lead single from that album, “Now That I found You,” reached the top five in both Canada and the United States. The album’s second single, “You’re Easy On The Eyes,” reached number one in Canada as well as the United States. The song also became a minor Top  40 hit, peaking at No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.  To promote her new album, Terri became the opening act for Reba McIntyre as well as Brooks and Dunn on their 1998 tour.

The release of “Fearless” the fourth studio album in September of 2000, delivered songs with more of an acoustic feel than that of her previous work. The album’s first single “A Little Gasoline”, was a late addition to the album. Mercury executives, of her label felt Clark needed to balance her new material with something that had a more familiar feel to it. Consequently, the song reached the top 10 in Canada. But only placed No 13 in the United States.

In March 1998, Clark visited Calgary, Alberta, Canada to film her first television special, Terri Clark Coming Home. The show premiered March 27, 1998 on CBC in Canada. During the special, Clark was visited by Canadian Country singers, Paul Brandt and George Fox. (Wikipedia)

2002 – 2004 – Grand Ole Opry Induction and A Playboy Magazine Offer

“Pain To Kill” was Clark’s fifth album. The album was released in January 2003, following the release of the album’s first single “I Just Wanna Be Mad”. Sara Evans passed on the song, originally written for her, by Kelley Lovelace and Lee Thomas Miller. Once released as a single, the song became Clark’s highest charting single in the United States. The song charted No 27 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

” I think of all the young girls who come to my shows. I think of those faces, I think of my mother, and I worry about the signal (sex) sends to them…”

“If I’m sexy enough for Playboy to want me with my clothes on. Then I hope, the message can be, that sexy is about, what’s between your ears, in your heart and your smile.”

Clark who came in second behind Canadian Country singer Shania Twain in a previous year poll, turned down an offer in early 2004 by Playboy magazine to pose, clothed for the cover of the magazine’s upcoming May issue.

During an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday, May 15, 2004. Steve Warner told Clark how much the Opry loved surprises and that he had one for her. Warner extended the surprise invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry family as her mother, Linda Clark, walked on stage holding a sign that read “Grand Ole Opry, June 12.”

” This is the epitome of everything I have existed for in this business and dreamed about as a kid”.

Canadian country music star Terri Clark became a Grand Ole
Opry Member in 2004 and is known for her hits like “Girls Lie
Too,” and more. Picture: Grand Ole Opry

Greatest Hits Album 1994-2004

The future Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee and the new Grand Ole Opry inductee, introduced her first greatest hits album. “Greatest hits 1994-2004”. The album’s only single. “Girls Lie Too”, became Clark’s first number one hit in the United States since 1998’s, “You’re Easy On The Eyes”. The song did not reach number one in Canada.  It hit number one country song of 2004 in Canada by Radio & Records.

A non-album single, “The World Needs a Drink” (co-written by a then-unknown Eric Church), released in 2004, but was not included on any of Clark’s studio albums.

Musical Roots of Country Continue 2005-2010

November 2005, Clark’s new album “Life Goes On” hits the airwaves. All things considered. This would be the last album, Terri would produce with Mercury Records.

June 2006, Clark signed with BNA Records, a division of Sony BMG Label Group. “Dirty Girl”, the first single for the label hit the stands in 2007. Following was “In My Next Life” the title track to the debut BNA release.

Clark’s tour of Canada with Emerson Drive  opening for Big and Rich hoping to promote her new album. “My Next Life” was delayed several times. Consequently, the album remained unreleased. She parted ways with BNA in November 2008, in order to concentrate on her career in Canada and possibly launch her own record label. (Wikipedia)

Clark released a live album, “Terri Clark Live: Road Rage”, on her own BareTrack Records label in July 2009 through digital retailers. Clark’s seventh unreleased album through BNA, “The Long Way Home“,  shipped to all retailers in Canada and to all digital retailers in the United States on September 1, 2009, distributed by BareTrack/Capitol Nashville/EMI Canada. The album’s release to non-digital retailers in the United States, took place on October 20, 2009.

The Albums Keep On Flowing Through Perseverance and Determination 2011-2013

Clark’s eighth album  “Roots and Wings” hit the market on July 26, 2011. The album includes “Smile”, a song she wrote for her mom after her death, due to a long battle with cancer. The album’s lead single, “Northern Girl,” released on April 18, 2011. There is no question that Terri Clark, will be headed for the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

The ninth album released on November 13, 2012, in Canada. The album includes classic country standards. “Love Is A Rose,” is  the album’s lead single. Not only does the album duets include Jann Arden, Dierks Bentley, Tanya Tucker, but also Dean Brody as well as Reba McIntire.

Clark took home the CCMA Female Artist of The Year Award in 2011. Terri built a fan base like no other and again took home the CCMA Fan’s Choice Award for 2013.

The Rewards and Vision of a Continuing Career

“Some Songs”. The production and release of Clark’s 10th took place on September 2, 2014. Her 11th album “Raising The Bar” was released on September 4, 2018.

Clark signed on to America’s Morning  Show on Nash FM in 2013, as co host to Blair Garner and Chuck Wicks. She co hosted on America’s Morning Show for about a year, before she returned to her road roots.

“I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I started doing it again.”

Country Gold With Terri Clark

The internationally syndicated radio show “Country Gold with Terri Clark, airs on more than 145 stations across the United States as well as Canada. As of April 2016, Terri became the new hostess of the Saturday night classic country program, replacing Randy Owen. Terri earned a 2017 CMA nomination for Broadcaster Personality of The Year as well as a 2018 ACM award for National Broadcast Personality of the year.

Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame Induction

“It is such an honour to be inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Being celebrated as one of Canada’s most influential country musicians is a recognition I do not take lightly, and one I will forever be proud of. I am deeply grateful to everyone, who has been on this journey with me, especially my fans who I had the opportunity to celebrate with today.”

Terri performed at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival in 2003. Displaying the talent, that would make her the International, Canadian Super Star she is today. She controls the stage in an international fashion, as well as providing her audience with a magical show in True Country Style. She performed the same caliber, and beyond in 2014 at the Rockin River Fest in Mission, BC.

During a 2014 interview by Shawn Conner of the Vancouver Sun, he asked. “Do you miss the bad ol’ days of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival? Terri replied:

“You know what, Merritt, BC is beautiful. Any festival there, whatever you want to call it, is going to be a party. We have the best crowds out west, they like to break loose and have a good time.”

Clark’s Merritt Mountain Music performances including her support of Canadian Country Music, lead to a mural on the wall of the BC Country Murals, included in The Merritt BC downtown Mural Walk. Terri Clark’s mural painted by Michelle Loughery in 2009, is displayed in Spirit Square, on the corner of Granite Avenue and Voght Street.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Merritt Attractions – Take The Walk

To begin with, start your downtown mural tour at Merritt’s National Attraction. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, Situated on Quilchena Avenue in The Country Music Capital of Canada.

The murals are impressive, I recognized the singers right away. What a clever way to make a small city interesting and fun.” (Betty W Missoula, Montana)

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.

Walk of Stars Handprints

In addition, while on your mural tour, visit the many handprints of country artists situated throughout the town.

Hundred’s of International Country Music Artists have performed at the annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival. As a result, those stars  left their mark permanently, by placing their handprints (or, in one case, footprints) and signatures in concrete stars. As a result, in 2003, those stars became the basis for the Merritt Walk of Stars. In addition, by 2005 more than 100 bronzed stars, created from the concrete impressions, were displayed throughout the community. (Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame)

Above all, the handprints will continue to grow with the Rockin River Music Fest, and add to the existing legacy of the Stars that have visited and performed in Merritt, BC.

 Discover and experience the natural beauty and attractions in Merritt and the Nicola Valley!

Terri Clark is very much active at the writing of this blog. Follow her on:

https://www.terriclark.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TerriClark

https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialTerriClark

https://www.instagram.com/terriclarkmusic/

Terry Clark – Merritt, BC, Canada Mural

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Don Messer Country Music Legend Mural

Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame

“Don Messer left a celebrated legacy. He was one of the first Canadian artists to be a recording, radio and TV star, as well as, play live concerts all at the same time. “

Don Messer Country Music Legend

Don Messer

Merritt BC attractions, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Merritt Murals, both feature Country Music Legend Don Messer. The country music venue and murals are located in the community of Merritt BC Canada in the Nicola Valley.  The community is also the “Country Music Capital of Canada”.

Don was a Canadian band leader, a radio broadcaster, and a defining icon of folk music in the 1960″s. 

Born in 1909 in Tweedside, New Brunswick, Don was the youngest of 11 children. It all started at the age of five, while learning fiddle tunes with Irish and Scottish influences. Consequently, by the age of seven he was playing fiddle for square dances on a regular basis fine tuning his craft.

Destined To Be A Merritt BC Attraction

By the time Don was a teenager, he had amassed a collection of hundreds of reels, and jigs, including breakdowns and other pieces for his fiddle. Moreover he was playing endless square dances, and country dances as well as weddings and other parties. At the age of 16 he moved to Boston, Massachusetts where he received formal music lessons, where he learned to read and write music. In short Don Messer created a fiddle style to operate within a band context. As He put it,

“I play the melody and let the accompaniment fill in the details”

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Merritt BC Attractions and Legends Must Start Somewhere

Messer began his career with radio. In 1929 at the age of 20, he moved to Saint John, New Brunswick where he joined CFBO radio station. As a result Don became a bandleader recruiting musicians to play on the radio in Saint John. Early recruits Charlie Chamberlain, Duke Nielsen, and Ned Landry formed the New Brunswick Lumberjacks. These band members stayed with Don for the next 39 years.

Messer led a smaller group, the “Backwoods Breakdown” which made up of Charlie Chamberlain, Julius ‘Duke’ Nielsen and Don Messer, himself. He used this group, for personal appearances throughout the Maritimes and Northeastern USA.

“There’s something about my music that seems to upset the emotions.”

Setting The Stage 

Messer, one of the Merritt BC Mural Attractions was hired by CFCY  Charlottetown in 1939 as their Music Director. It was here he formed the band “The Islanders” and became “Don Messer and The Islanders”. CBC picked up Don Messer and the Islanders show. By 1944 it was airing three times a week.

Formed around 2 of the original members, Charlie Chamberlain and Duke Nielsen, the show established itself as the most popular on Canadian Radio and would  continue for almost 20 years.  The singer Marg Osburne joined the band in 1947 and became (with Messer and Chamberlain) the artist most identified with the Islanders.

Because of the huge success of the radio show. Messer and the Islanders began to appear outside the Maritimes. Their first tour was in Ontario in 1949. They made 18 tours by 1969, including a centennial trip in 1967 that lasted 3 months and covered 61 centers.

This Fiddler Of Canada

His credits include combining many different Canadian fiddle traditions. As a result, he played a relatively straight, and unadorned melody line, with great precision and assurance with little ornamentation, rhythmic nuance, or expressiveness.  His style influenced others, as it was clean, straight and neat. Marked by its down to earth simplicity.

Don Messer’s Television Era

In 1956 Don Messer and The Islanders began to appear regularly on CHBY-TV, Halifax. Soon followed by “The Don Messer Show’ in August 7, 1959 and continued as the “Don Messer’s Jubilee”.

Fiddler Night In Canada

The show was super popular and won over a wide audience. It was so popular it won top spot in the ratings two years in a row, beating out “Hockey night in Canada” and “The Ed Sullivan Show”. Over the next nine years it reportedly was the second most watched show in Canada next to “Hockey Night In Canada.”

A Show For Canadians To Meet

As has been noted, the show was notable because it had a regular guest performer time slot. Giving rise to many Canadian folk singers through national exposure, including Stompin’ Tom Connors, Catherine McKinnon, and fiddler Graham Townsend. There were many others including a young 10 year old fiddler named Jim Elliot.

Don Messer never took anything for granted. He had already suffered the vagaries of CBC management for 20 years in radio. CBC offered no long term security. But it did provide a platform for him to share his music with the nation.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Coming To An Abrupt End

Don was handed a telegram on April 14, 1969, saying that the Don Messer’s Jubilee was cancelled. Don was very upset, the fans were revolting. CBC received hundreds of phone calls, as well as, thousands of letters. The cancellation of the show generated many complaints including former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who was a fan of the show. The fans organized a demonstration on Parliament Hill, even raising questions in The House of Commons. Consequently, a syndicated version of “Don Messer’s Jubilee “originated from CHCH-TV, in Hamilton Ontario in 1969, and ran until Don Messer’s death in March of 1973.

Legacy of Don Messer on the wall of Merritt BC Mural Attractions

Don Messer left a celebrated legacy. He was one of the first Canadian artists to be a recording, radio and TV star, as well as, play live concerts all at the same time.

Messer was inducted in into the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Honor in 1985 and, with Chamberlain and Osburne, into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989.

 “My music is not Western or Cowboy music. Our tunes have been around for two or three hundred years. They’re folk tunes passed from generation to generation.”

Visit Don Messer`s Mural in Merritt BC and downtown walking tour.

Merritt BC Canada Country Music – Merritt Murals

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Lisa Brokop Merritt BC Canada Murals

Lisa Brokop Merritt BC Murals

Journey to Merritt Murals

“I love what I do. Every note I sing, whether in studio or on stage, is true. It hasn’t always been an easy road. There has been many curves, bumps and detours. But really, it is the love of the music that motivates each step I take in the business. It keeps me moving forward.” Lisa Brokop

Lisa Brokop is a Canadian Country Music Singer/Songwriter featured on the walls of  the Merritt BC Murals. Born June 6, 1973 in Surrey, British Columbia, Lisa made her presence known in the entertainment world by the age of seven. It was then she started performing with her mother, who was a seasoned accordion player.

At age twelve, Lisa started sitting in on jam sessions with various country music bands throughout Vancouver, BC. By age fifteen she joined a touring band and was off to the races. It was obvious she was destined to be featured on the walls of our Merritt BC Murals located in the Nicola Valley in the community of Merritt BC Canada.

Sweet 16 And Beyond For Lisa Brokop

1990 at seventeen, Lisa released her debut single, “Daddy Sing To Me”. The song reached the top ten on The Canadian Country RPM Charts. In addition, “My Love”, her debut album, followed in June of 1991.

After graduation Lisa moved to Nashville, Tennessee to further her country music career. While performing at local clubs, Brokop caught the attention of The Nashville Network. The network began to play the video for Brokop’s single “Time To Come Back Home”. As a result they had Lisa make a guest appearance on The Ralph Emery Show. This appearance and a thirty minute showcase resulted in Lisa Brokop getting a record deal with Patriot Records.

Melvina White (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

Lisa Brokop Harmony

Before Brokop began recording her second album, she starred in the 1994 film Harmony Cats, where she played a country singer who leaves home in search of a big break in Nashville. Lisa Brokop contributed to the movie’s soundtrack and her cover of Tammy Wynette’s 1968 number one hit “Stand By Your Man” was issued as a single.

Back On And Off The Winding Road Of Recording

Lisa Brokop’s second album released the single “Give Me A Ring Sometime”, in June 1994. The single made the top 20 in Canada, but unfortunately it only reached No. 52 on the US Billboard Chart. Nevertheless, her first major label album. “Every Little Girl’s Dream”, was released in September of 1994.

In the meantime ‘Give Me A Ring Sometime’ was charting. However, many Canadian radio stations refused to play Lisa’s music because the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication ruled that ‘Give Me A Ring Sometime’ did not have enough Canadian Content in the song. Nevertheless, Brokop’s album went on to produce two more top 40 singles in Canada with ‘Take That’ and ‘One Of Those Nights’.

1995 And Lots Of Change

By 1995, the album was certified Gold by the CRIA, for sales peaking 50,000 copies. Included in 1995 was a nomination for Top New Female Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Also in 1995, Patriot Records closed its doors and Brokop transferred to Capital Nashville.

Lisa released her third album ‘Lisa Brokop’ the following year. The album did not do so well. As a result none of the album singles reached the top 40 in Canada or The United States. The failure of the album ended her relationship with Capital Nashville.

Consequently she decided to take some time off and focus on song writing. As a result, some country music stars took notice and started recording tracks she penned, including Reba McEntire, Terri Clark, and Pam Tillis.

Lisa Brokop Selfie Photo

Change Brings Opportunity

 Brokop signed with the Nashville division of Columbia Records, in 1998, where she released the single ‘How Do I Let Go’. The song reached the top 20 of The Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart and received a nomination for “Socan Song of the Year” at the 1998 Canadian Country Music Awards Show.

In July of 1998, Lisa released in Canada the album, ‘When You Get To Be You’. It produced five more singles, including ‘What’s Not To Love’ that peaked at No 21. And, soon later, ‘Better Off Broken’ peaked at No. 8 becoming Brokop’s highest charting single on The Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart in 1999. The album was not released in the US and as a result Lisa Brokop left Columbia Records at the end of 1999.

Undeniable Change

In 2000, Brokop ventured on her own and launched Cosmo Records. It was under this label she released her fifth album, ‘Undeniable’.  Lisa Brokop received in 2001 two Canadian Country Music Association awards for Independent Song of The Year for ‘Something Undeniable’ as well as independent Female Artist of The Year.

The album’s third single, ‘I’d Like To See You Try’, won Brokop Independent Song of The Year as well as Independent Female Artist of the Year in 2002, from The Canadian Country Music Association. 2003 saw her receive another Independent Female Artist of The Year award.

Country Music In The Merritt Mountains

Lisa’s hand print was taken in July 1995 at The Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now the Rockin River Music Festival). Followed soon after by the unveiling of the hand print in Merritt, BC.

Again Lisa returned back to Merritt BC on Sunday, July 8, 2001 for her performance at The Merritt Mountain Music Festival. Followed, soon later, by the 10th Anniversary of The Merritt Mountain Music Festival in 2002. Then again she returned to Merritt at the launch of the Walk of Stars in 2003. Lisa was the main attraction for the gala which was a huge success.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Merritt BC Murals Downtown Walking Tour

Because of her desire, talent, passion, perseverance, and dedication to her music Lisa has definitely earned her place on the Merritt BC Murals. Lisa’s mural is located on the side of the Home Hardware building. There was a special ceremony for Lisa to unveil, and sign her Mural in 2006.

Her mural rests on the side of the Home Hardware building located at 1701 Voght Street. Her hand print is located at 2076 Coutlee Avenue.

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.

Back On The Road And Going Strong

Brokop’s seventh album ‘Beautiful Tragedy’, was released in August of 2008. As a result, it featured a top 20 hit ‘Break It’.

In 2013, Lisa returned to commercial country radio and had success with songs ‘Let It Burn’ and ‘Love Me If You Can’ both of which were produced by fellow Canadian superstar Carolyn Dawn Johnson.

Lisa put together the new musical venture, ‘Lisa Brokop: The Patsy Cline Project’ where Lisa pays homage to one of country music’s greatest ladies. The project features some of Cline’s classic hits like ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘Walkin after Midnight’ as well as some of her own material written specifically for the project.

“I’ve come full circle with this project,” Brokop says. “When I first started singing, I would sing some of Patsy’s songs because I didn’t have any of my own. They are still among some of my favorites today and I am so excited to have the opportunity to honor this amazing lady and the incredible music she gave us!” 

You can visit Lisa Brokop on her website, as well as, her Facebook page.

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** Information resources includes Lisa Brokop website, Wikipedia page, and social media page.

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Casey Clarke Country Music Television and Radio

Merritt BC Murals in the Nicola Valley

An on air and TV personality that has been a great ambassador and friend of Merritt BC Canada

The Merritt BC Murals in the Nicola Valley feature a country music personality named Casey Clarke. A name sitting near the top of the list in the country music world of television and radio. If you love listening to country music it is a safe bet you know who Casey Clarke is.

The Start Of The Broadcasting Career

Casey was born and raised in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. It was here on the prairies, growing up, where Casey found his calling in broadcasting. Casey Clarke started his  television and radio career at a very early age too. Radio first came calling for Casey Clarke in Westlock, Alberta at CFOK Radio Station. Soon later he was behind the mic with Mountain FM Whistler/Squamish BC.  Everyone who knows Casey could see that Casey’s broadcasting career was off and running.

Melvina White (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

Casey’s next stop was Vancouver, BC, Canada where he jumped on board with “The Satellite Radio Network” and was syndicated on 71 radio stations across Canada. Followed later by an offer to join the team at Silk FM at which time Casey made the move to Kelowna, BC, Canada. Casey took a liking to his radio career and kept moving forward. He was once heard saying,

“This is such a dynamic field filled with unbelievable challenges!”

The Television Career Begins For Casey Clarke

1997 took Casey Clarke from Kelowna, BC to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to join the Country Music Television show known as CMT. Clarke served as Director of Programming at both CMT Canada and Country 95.3 (Hamilton/Toronto-Canada’s most listened to Country Station). While at 95.3 he organized Canada’s largest free outdoor Country show every Canada Day.

“The face of CMT” (Country Music Television) according to some was Casey Clarke)

Casey’s 15 year radio stint has earned him the title, “the face” of CMT. Casey Clarke is one of the most recognizable personalities in Canada in the country music industry.

Casey Clarke Awards and Credits

In 2009. The Country Music Association World International Awards, honored Casey Clarke with the broadcaster of the year award. This award recognizes outstanding achievement, by a radio broadcaster or syndicated radio reporter. The award recognizes that Casey has made important contributions for the development of country music, in his/her country outside the United States.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Back to Radio

The Casey Clarke Show” as well as “The Casey Clarke Countdown” is syndicated on radio stations across Canada. As a result they are both active in major and secondary markets. Casey hosts a variety of artist album specials on national radio as well. He is also the main radio personality conducting onsite interviews with the headlining artists, at all major Canadian Country Music Festivals.  As well as his radio programs. Clarke’s company Casey Clark Productions also co-produced “The Chevy Cross Canada Countdown” which Clarke hosted for seven seasons.

In 2012 a show on CMT that Casey was involved with, “Employee Of The Week”, won the”Program of The Year Award” from the Canadian Country Music Association.

Casey Clarke’s Merritt Mural

The on-air and TV personality has been a great ambassador and host for Merritt BC Canada. He has commanded the stage of The Merritt Mountain Music Festival, as well as, the stage for some Walk of Stars Gala events. He has been a staple at the “Rockin River Music Fest” since 2015. Casey will grace the stage again at the 2019 Rockin’ River Fest.

Casey has continued to support the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame for many years. It was his dedication to the country music scene in Merritt BC Canada that earned him his space on a wall forming part of the Merritt BC Murals. Casey Clarke’s Mural can be seen at 2015 Nicola Street. He is on the wall with his colleague, and country music singer”Beverly Mahood”.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Merritt BC Canada Murals

The Merritt Mural Project started  in 2005. Furthermore, the Merritt BC Murals was 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 the Merritt Murals.

Still Connecting with Country’s Biggest Stars

Casey is currently the Program Director for the Morning Show for Stingray Country 100.7 in Kelowna, BC. He has held this position since January, 2013. Radio and Event Host Casey Clarke shows no signs of slowing down.

Follow Casey Clarke on his website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

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** Information resources includes Casey Clarke website, and social media pages.

Nicola Valley Mountainboarding

Merritt, BC, Canada Extreme Sports

“There’s nothing like mountain boarding! I have been to amusement parks and gone on the rides and roller coasters and none have even come close.”

Although mountainboarding is an up and coming new sport in Canada, it is quickly gaining popularity. A mountainboard contains components including a deck, bindings to secure the rider to the deck, four pneumatic tires and two trucks for steering.

Mountainboarders ride specifically designed boarder-cross tracks, slope-style parks, grass hills, woodlands, gravel tracks, streets, skate parks, ski resorts, BMX courses and mountain bike trails. The ability to ride such a variety of terrain is what makes mountainboarding different from other board sports. 

Merritt is mountainboarding country

Mountainboarding in Merritt, BC, Canada is an ideal destination with all the different terrains that the area has to offer. There’s hills, gravel tracks, mountain bike trails, woodlands and so much more to experience.

“You can’t really describe how it feels. It’s like a roller coaster but you have control of the track, if that makes any sense.” 

Youth mountainboarding

Let me introduce you now to a young man, Brayden.  He discovered the sport and became interested in mountainboarding as an alternative to his longboarding. When I spoke to this young man, I  asked him how he got interested in mountainboarding. His response was that he had watched a movie called “Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board.”  Once he watched the movie, he was essentially “hooked” and wanted to try this up and coming sport in Canada.

Brayden mountainboarding near LundbomLake

Setting up your gear

First came the purchase of the deck, trucks, wheels and safety gear. Finally, the day came that he could venture out to try. Starting out small, this young man ventured out into the Merritt area looking for suitable terrain to test out. First place this young man tried was the bike park. He soon found out that mountainboarding was much more different that skateboarding and longboarding.

Mountainboarding 101

Coming home after a few tumbles, he started watching videos from other more seasoned mountainboarders from around the world. After spending several days watching videos, he was ready to venture out again to try. Fast forward about a year and this young man has reached a top speed of 30 km/h down Midday Valley Road during the Winter and 40 km/h down the same road with the arrival of Spring.

“One of the best first attempts was when coming down Midday Valley Road and how you learn to control the board. There’s only so much you can learn from videos and you have to just jump on the board.”

Mountainboarding in the Nicola Valley.

Looking for mountain boarding runs

Brayden is excited and looking at different locations within the Merritt area to test his mountainboard out. He will soon have a better idea of the perfect areas for mountainboarding in Merritt, BC.  Brayden’s ambition and goal is to bring mountainboarding to Merritt, BC. He hopes to offer rental boards, lessons and ventures for groups to enjoy the many different areas Merritt,BC has to offer in the near future.

Mountainboarding in Merritt British Columbia Canada

 

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) / Mural 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

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How to Create a Forest Garden

Living with the land

“Provides great nourishment for you and your family”

First, let me tell you what a forest garden is. A forest garden is a very old way of creating a low maintenance system that meets human needs by planting gardens that copy the natural structure of a forest.

Layers of a Forest Garden

There can be as little as three or as many as seven layers to a forest garden. They are quite different than a traditional garden. You don’t have to till the soil or worry about weeds. Depending on space, you can do three main layers of trees, shrub and soil surface or root. With more space you can do a full seven-layer edible forest garden. The layers are;

1 – Canopy Tree Layers (Large fruit and nut trees)

2 – Low tree layer (dwarf fruit trees, dwarf nut trees)

3 – Shrub layer (currants and berries)

4 – Herbaceous layer

5 – Soil surface layer (ground cover crops)

6 – Root layer

7 – Vertical layer (climbers and vines)

 

seven layers forest garden

Seven layers of a forest garden

Designing your forest garden

When designing a forest garden, you want to understand a few basic principles. They will allow you to plan what you need in the space you have available. Usually forest gardens are comprised of perennial species, thus allowing for less maintenance and more productivity, although you can use some annuals.

forest garden design

Drawing of my forest garden so far.

Other Crops

Depending on what your plans are, you can also plant medicinal plants. These may include eucalyptus, St. Johns Wart, balm and nettles et cetera. Other possible crops you can add would be different types of plants for crafting, like willow, bamboo or building material, firewood or wood to use for smoking meat.

Layers of a Forest Garden explained

Let’s dive into the different layers of a forest garden and what are some examples of the different types of crops you can add to each.

Canopy Tree Layer

The first layer is the tall canopy trees. “When planting full size fruit and nut trees, be sure to plant them with enough space for them to grow. As well, you need to make sure there is enough room for light to come through once they are fully grown. Apple, peach, plum, and some species of nuts are good ones to start with.

Low Tree Layer

The second layer of a forest garden consists of a low layer of trees. This layer can be dwarf fruit trees or some species of nuts that grow lower than full size fruit and nut trees.  Apricots, peach, nectarines, hazelnuts and almonds are all naturally small trees. Any would make good choices to add to your garden. Nitrogen-fixing trees are also great for supplying mulch and compost. They grow quickly and can be heavily pruned. You can check at your local garden center to see what dwarf trees they have for your area.

Shrub layer

The shrub layer should have some different shrubs and smaller type plants. Some great examples are blueberries, bamboo, butterfly bush, raspberries, blackberries, currents, gooseberries et cetera.

Put sun-loving plants at the edge of the forest garden where they will receive the most sun. You want to plant mostly perennials, but you can still add some annuals and self-seeding species

shrub layer of a forest garden raspberries and blackberries

Part of my shrub layer with raspberries and blackberries.

Ground Cover Layer

Next is the ground cover layer. You want ground-hugging plants such as strawberries, creeping thyme, phlox, verbena, nostrum and clover. This layer is important for helping to keep the weeds at bay. Culinary herbs, vegetables and cover crops are great for mulch as well.

Vine Layer

The vine layer can be grown up the tall and dwarf trees. This creates a great use of space by using the taller trees as a ready-made trellis. There are a variety of vines that would work great. Kiwi, grapes or hops are just a few. More decorative choices could be English Ivy, wisteria, and honeysuckle. You can also train raspberries and blackberries to grow up although they will need help staying in place. I am also going to try planting some peas and bean vines to see how they will turn out.

The Last Layer is the Root Layer

There are several easy to grow plants that can be used as a root layer. Some of the ones I plan to try out in my forest garden are potatoes, onions, beets, garlic and carrots. I may even try some sweet potatoes and yams.

Benefits of a Forest Garden

There are many wonderful benefits of a forest garden. Not only will it provide great food and nourishment for your family, it can also provide attractants for pollinators and woodland creatures. Once it is more established it can be a wonderful place to go and relax. You are working with the land and not against it. You can yield a wide variety of products with very low maintenance. Helps to keep the land from eroding and also helps with winter run off. There is very little to no greenhouse gases and it promotes biodiversity. Besides all that, it is very pleasing to look at and to wonder your way through.

My Secret Garden

Throughout my years of growing up I have seen a lot of amazing gardens. We used to travel to England almost every summer. They have some of the most amazing and beautiful gardens. Then watching The Secret Garden, I knew that one day I wanted to create one for myself. A forest garden isn’t quite the same in it doesn’t have walls and a locked gate. You don’t really worry about weeds and it’s not in rows. You also don’t have things planted in the same area. It will have a bench and maybe even a swing. It will be my little oasis to get away and relax. The best part is that I can nibble on whatever I please while I am relaxing on the bench.

Space needed to create a Forest Garden

The wonderful thing about creating a forest garden is there is no hard and fast rule on the space needed to do so. You can start one right in your own back yard on a small lot or an even bigger one if you have an acreage.  Some have done a forest garden in a 50 square meter area and others in 1000 square meters or more. If you are doing a smaller space just omit some of the taller layers. Use the space you have available to you and plant the layers according to what you can fit in that space.

The Beginning

At first it was just a space where we decided to plant some fruit trees. I didn’t know anything about forest gardens. While researching different ways of gardening, I came across an article on a forest garden. It really intrigued me to see all these different plants working together to create this amazing little ecosystem.

From that moment on it was decided. We were going to create our own little forest garden.

Although I have only just started my forest garden, I am looking forward to watching it grow. Last spring, 2018, I planted three fruit trees, five blueberry bushes, two raspberries, one blackberry and two Saskatoon berry bushes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t protect my Saskatoon berry bushes and my goats ate most of them. I have since taken them out to try and save them. In their place, I have planted two rhubarb crowns. I re-potted the Saskatoon berry bushes and have put them in the greenhouse in hopes that they will come back.

forest garden beginning

The start of my forest garden.

If what I planted last year survived the winter I will plant some ground cover crops and root crop. Strawberries, Jerusalem artichokes and even some herbs will be going in as soon as the weather warms up enough.

Another addition to my forest garden is a drip irrigation system. I have it attached to a timer, so I don’t have to remember to water. Also, if I need to go away for a few days or even a week, I am not worried about my garden drying out.

Kootenay Permaculture

The Forest Garden at Spiral Farm was started in 1993. If produces an abundance of fruits, berries, nuts, medicinal herbs and fiber crops such as willows and bamboos. It is located in the Slocan Valley on a 10 acre farm. Kootenay Permaculture was created to research and provide education in Permaculture and ecological living. It was started in 1991. It is an amazing example of what you can do to create a very productive Forest Garden. If you are interested in taking a Design Course in Permaculture get a hold of Spiral Farms. They have been offering a course annually since 2002.

Pictured below is a 20 year old Forest Garden from Kootenay  Permaculture. It is amazing how beautiful it can look over time.

20 yr old forest garden

Photo Credit : Kootenay Permaculture.

I have also introduced Mason Bees. I will be releasing them as soon as the weather is cooperating. Check out my blog on Mason Bees here.

mason bees emerging cocoons

My little mason bees emerging a little early.

Over the year I will be updating and doing more photos as the forest garden grows. I hope you will follow along to see how things work out. You can find more of my blogs at Experience Nicola Valley.

More Information

If you are looking for more information about creating your own forest garden, the internet is a great place to start. There are many sites full of information on forest gardens and permaculture.

If you’re in the Nicola Valley, there are couple of great places to purchase supplies. Canadian Tire and Purity Feed both have a great selection of trees and plants.

I also can make garden signs for your garden, walkway or anything you need. You can have a look at my Twisted Turkey Facebook page to see some of my signs and home decor items.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and HAPPY GARDENING.

Feature photo credit to The Green Parent – The Edible Forest Garden. Feel free to check out their article here.

How to Create a Forest Garden

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) / Mural 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 / Mural 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

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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.

Melvina White (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural 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

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