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Vernon dance party swings out Buddy Holly tribute

Local musicians present annual event at Record City
Manfred Harter brings his annual Buddy Holly tribute to Vernon on Feb. 3. (Gary Sumner/Snap This Photography)

A tribute to a legend of his time will see the city kicking up its heels in annual celebration.

Buddy Holly died in a violent plane crash Feb. 2, 1959, alongside J. P. Richardson (the Big Bopper-Chantilly Lace), Richard Valenzuela (Ritchie Valens - La Bamba) and 21-year-old Roger Peterson.

To memorialize the musician, an annual Winter Dance Party has been taking place (minus pandemic years).

“This tribute performance is based on a series of concerts that were held in 1959 called the Winter Dance Party. They took place on some very cold and miserable days and nights when Holly, Valens, Dion and the Belmonts, including Waylon Jennings as electric Fender bass player, among others, went on tour together,” said local musician Manfred Harter, who has been a fan of Holly’s music since grade school. “That fateful evening saw Holly’s last appearance in Clear Lake, Iowa, at the Surf Ballroom. The following night’s show was scheduled for Moorhead, Minnesota.

“The next day, Feb. 3, is generally considered to be the date associated with Buddy Holly’s passing. That was the day the airplane and occupants were found at 9:30 a.m. in a farmer’s cornfield, covered in snow and crumpled,’’ said Harter.

Local musicians Harter, Dustin Schmauder, Stewy Stewart, Quita King and Craig Carmody (aka Dr. Sax) will pay tribute to the ill-fated stars at Vernon’s Record City on Friday, Feb. 3.

The Quita-bass addition is a special dedication and thanks to Paul Hunter, director of the Kalamalka Secondary School jazz program. She is a graduate of the four-year program. With the support and constant encouragement from her and all the teenagers in the program, Manfred was given permission to play guitar with them, to learn the necessary basics of an actual jazz program and to eventually find a place with the Okanagan Valley Big Band.

Opening for the music of Buddy Holly is Vernon’s blues-sliding guitarist-singer Brent Applegath (Sugar-lump). Applegath has just released an album with We Are All On the Spectrum on Spotify and You Tube. The disc will be available during the show.

An unusual twist to the evening will showcase a very much alive Holly.

Official rock star photographer for Queen and Elton John to name but a couple of the stars caught in his lens, the new guy in town, Gary Sumner will be present to photograph, display and sell some of his past shots of well-known artists.

Attendance is limited to 80.

Tickets are $25, available at Record City, call 250-503-0038.

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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