Rodney Brown travels from the north shore of Lake Superior to the North Okanagan when he performs at Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon

Folk artist sings stories of historical voyage

Concert is raising funds for the Voyageur brigade paddle on Okanagan Lake.

Gordon Lightfoot sang about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior; Stan Rogers regaled about crossing the Northwest Passage; Joni Mitchell drew a map of Canada with its big Prairie skies.

And Rodney Brown has descended down the mighty Columbia where the fur traders once paddled.

The singer-songwriter, who hails from Fort William (now known as Thunder Bay), is part of that first wave of folk singers, along with Rogers, Murray McLauchlan and Bruce Cockburn, who has caught the essence of this country –– its land, people and history –– through the power of words to music.

And he returns to Vernon Thursday with songs about journeys through the north land and beyond in a fundraiser for the Okanagan Brigade Society, which is planning a Voyageur canoe trip on Okanagan Lake this summer.

Brown will share tales of fur trading between the First Nations and Voyageurs along with other travails through this great nation of ours.

“His whole genre is the fur trade, songs and stories about the Voyageurs, Fort William, Grande Portage and the north wood,” said Okanagan brigade member Norm Crerar, who is helping organize the concert, and hosted a concert by Brown in Vernon last year. “His songs are entertaining but he also brings to life the characters and their place in the history of early Canada… His understanding of this part of Canadian history is outstanding and he tells a lot of great stories along with his outstanding singing.”

With 10 albums and 30 years of performing his songs across Canada and the U.K., Brown remains committed to his Northwestern Ontario roots.

Following the release of the highly acclaimed CD, Big Lonely, his latest CD, North Land, transports the listener across the waterways of North America and to the Great Glen of Scotland.

A culmination of two years of research into the people, explorations and events that defined boundaries, North Land details a unique time in history when Fort William reigned as the inland headquarters for the Canadian fur trade. Produced by Paul Mills, and featuring some of Canada’s best roots musicians, the recording is filled with songs of adventure and risk, triumph and heartbreak.

“If you paddle, are interested in canoes and Canadian history, you will want to come to this concert,” said Crerar.

Brown takes the stage at Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre on 35th Avenue, Thursday Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students at the Ticket Seller (549-7469, as well as the  Bean to Brew, Boutique Canadiana, Sheer Dimensions, and the Bean Scene.


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