Saturday Night Blues host Holger Petersen is dropping by the Dream Café to talk music. Submitted photo

Talking music at Penticton’s Dream Café

Listen Up! to Holger Petersen

Over the years, Holger Petersen has interviewed hundreds of musicians, but this Friday, it’s going to be his turn.

Petersen, host of two of Canada’s longest-running blues music radio shows — Natch’l Blues on Alberta’s public radio broadcaster CKUA since 1969 and CBC’s Saturday Night Blues, now in its 31st year — will be Talking Music at the Penticton’s Dream Café.

“I’m just really looking forward to being at the Dream Cafe,” said Petersen. “So many people I work with have played there over the years.

“It’s a very important venue. I really think that venues like this are rare and need to be supported; I’m just very happy to be able to go there and see it myself.”

Petersen’s Penticton visit is part of Peach City Radio’s Listen Up! series, and he’ll be accompanied on stage by Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne.

Related: Blues Boss talks new album

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne

“He’s a dear old friend of mine and we’ve done a number of records on Stony Plains together. In fact, we just spent the last few weeks, off and on, in a studio working on his next record,” said Petersen. “He’s really a unique artist and one of the world’s best at what he does.”

Petersen’s love of the blues began in high school, as the British Invasion hit while he was beginning his record collection.

“So many of those bands were blues-influenced, blues and R&B influenced. Just about all of them were, in one way or another,” said Petersen. “If you loved the British Invasion bands you ended up having a lot of respect for blues and R&B music and early rock and roll.

That’s what kind of got me going, reading the small print on the label and finding out that the first couple of Rolling Stones records were mostly covers of songs by people like Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf.”

Petersen says he’s still following those threads as he explores blues and roots music.

“It just goes on and on and on and it’s endlessly fascinating,” he said. “It’s really a timeless music. There’s a lot of great songwriters, a lot of vivid imagery. Blues really touches all the passions of life and the emotions of life. And it’s a great dance music and it’s very soulful. It really shares feelings.

“There’s something very real about it. Whenever you get that, in any kind of art form, that’s going to make it timeless.”

The evening will alternate between Wayne taking the audience on a musical journey through the blues, and Petersen’s stories.

“Kenny will play some tunes and then we’ll do a bit of an interview,” said Petersen. “I have the pleasure of being interviewed, so I’m really looking forward to that. We can answer some questions and just talk about blues and roots music.”

Ian Mackinder of Peach City Radio’s Left Off The Dial will the host the event and interview Petersen about some of the famous artists he has interviewed over the years.

There’s no chance they will run out of something to talk about. Petersen has interviewed many artists, including the legendary names of blues, R&B and roots music, some of which are collected in his two books: Talking Music and the latest volume, Talking Music 2, Blues and Roots Music Mavericks.

“The first of 25 or 26 interviews in the book is with B.B. King. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him half a dozen times, at least, over the years,” said Petersen. “He was my favourite blues artist of all time and I think it was so appropriate that he was the first person in the book. The second one is Allen Toussaint, who I feel is kind of the B.B. King of New Orleans music. Both of those artists were very accessible and just legendary artists.”

There are some great Canadians in the book as well, like Ronnie Hawkins.

“I’ve interviewed him a few times and he’s got amazing stories to tell,” said Petersen. “Just a number of different wonderful people and I think they all have wonderful stories to tell. Even if you’re not familiar with say, Van Dyke Parks or Mose Allison … I think that it would be a very interesting read.

“Ultimately the goal is to really have people discover new music and maybe listen to some of these artists while they’re reading the book.”

There are also some rare interviews, like with Domingo “Sam” Samudio of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs (Wooly Bully).

“After several years of trying to working it out, I spent an afternoon with Sam at his house outside of Memphis and just had the most wonderful time hanging out with him. There are just wonderful characters,” said Petersen. “I think the title says it, Blues and Roots Music Mavericks.

In addition to his lengthy broadcasting career, Petersen is a record producer, label owner, author, educator, festival producer, album collector and serious music fan. In 1975 he co-founded Stony Plain Records which has won thirteen Juno Awards and has been nominated for six Grammys

“I can’t tell you how privileged I’ve been to have had access to so many different people over the years and continue to, with my CBC show,” said Petersen. “I’m just totally grateful for those opportunities and to have been able to meet so many people and be part of this and in some cases work with them on records.”

Tickets for Talking Music with Holger Petersen, featuring Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne” are available at the Dream Café, 67 Front St, Penticton at 250-490-9012 or www.thedreamcafe.ca.

In addition to the Dream Café event, Petersen is hosting a workshop at the Shatford Centre on May 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. called Talking Music: Interviews and Radio/Music Production. The workshop is free and open to anyone interested in Petersen’s process as a successful radio host and producer. Participants can register by emailing listenup@peachcityradio.org.

Related: CFUZ awarded grant for speaker series

The CFUZ Listen Up! Speaker Series aims to inspire community members into learning about and participating in community radio. Peach City Radio is a not-for-profit society with an online radio stream at www.cfuz.ca, working towards the establishment of an FM community radio service in Penticton.

What: Talking Music with Holger Petersen, featuring Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne

Where: The Dream Café, 67 Front St. Penticton

When: May 25, doors open at 6 p.m., talk begins at 8 p.m.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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