Anniversaries are always special and this is no exception. Thirty years ago, Stony Plains Records issued their first record from their tiny office in Edmonton, Alberta. The fledgling outfit struggled through some very difficult years. Years of careful nurturing finally paid off when the label signed folk legend Ian Tyson in the mid 80s. Founders Holger Peterson and Alvin Jahns form a great team. Jahns provided a wealth of business "smarts" while Peterson handled the A&R side of the business. Peterson is known as a broadcaster, media man, former musician and a consummate fan of the music he produces.
The Stony Plain 30th Anniversary is celebrated, of course, with a very special recording. The three disc set has something for music fans of many stripes. The label has always focused upon so called roots & blues
and this is where Peterson’s ample expertise and passion reside.
Disc One features the work of singers and songwriters. The listener is treated to 20 vocal tracks by such folks as Maria Muldaur, Angela Strehli, Ian Tyson, Corb Lund, David Wilcox, Amos Garrett, Marcia Ball, Valdy and more. There is a bit of gospel by the Holmes Brothers and some western swing by Asleep At The Wheel. It’s quite a grab bag.
Disc Two contains the meat and potatoes for JazzReview
readers. Here are 17 tracks from some of the finest blues performers around and several songs are previously unreleased in any form. Included in that select group are Billy Boy Arnold’s "Woman Stealer," Jeff Healey’s hot "Sweet Georgia Brown" with guest Chris Barber and King Biscuit Boy’s "Ain’t Gonna Do It." Listeners will hear blues legends Robert Nighthawk, Rosco Gordon, Maria Muldaur with Taj Mahal, Jimmy Witherspoon, the late Long John Baldry and jazz pioneer, Jay McShann. Duke Robillard, Downchild Blues Band, Ronnie Earle, Kim Wilson, Big Dave McLean, Ellen McIlwaine, Doug James and Sonny Rhodes add to the excitement of the second disc.
Disc Three is a bonus DVD that immediately grabs the listener by the ears and the heart. The first twenty minutes features the 90-year old Jay McShann in conversation and in concert. The band leader who once employed Charlie "Yardbird" Parker in Kansas City is still playing beautifully and is as charming as ever.
A series of ten music videos from the Stony Plain collection follow and offer several genres including Canada’s Queen of the Blues, Rita Chiarelli, Long John Baldry, Cindy Church, Ian Tyson, Jim Byrnes and Amos Garrett.
The show isn’t over till it’s over. There’s a great eight minute segment showing guitarists Duke Robillard, Jay Geils and Jerry Beaudoin on stage with a rhythm section. Robillard reappears for two more tunes including his "Cookin’ With The Blues" and a knockout romp titled "Jivin’ In Rhythm." The latter is an eleven minute jam session that blows the roof off.
Stony Plains kingpin, Holger Peterson, appears on video from his Edmonton office and speaks candidly about his label, the artists, the successes and failures. Record collectors will gaze in awe at Peterson’s humongous collection of vinyl, neatly shelved behind him. Holger Peterson has given his life to the music he loves and has 300 sessions under his belt and earned many awards including six Juno trophies and nine Grammy nominations. 30 Years Of Stony Plain
gets my highest recommendation.