Often imitated, never duplicated.
William Shatner, Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame, closed out a five-song medley with the Trooper staple Raise A Little Hell at this year’s Juno Awards.
At last year’s Canadian Country Music Association awards, Canadian country queen Terri Clark wowed the crowd with a rousing rendition of another Trooper classic, We’re Here For a Good Time (Not a Long Time).
In the case of Vancouver’s Trooper, it’s more tribute than imitation.
“Canada’s Party Band,” which has been entertaining crowds across Canada and North America since the mid-’70s, brings a rocking show to Vernon and the A&W Funtastic Music Festival stage Sunday at 10:30 p.m. following the Canada Day fireworks show.
“Musically, Trooper is tighter, looser and more willing to take chances than ever before,” said Ra McGuire, lead singer and co-founder of the band, along with guitarist Brian (Smitty) Smith.
“Every show is different, and every show is musically fun – both for the audience and the players.”
The tributes continue for the players, which include Smith on guitar, Gogo on keyboards, Scott Brown on bass and Clayton Hill on drums.
Famous Canadian barbecue chef Ted Reader lists Trooper as his favourite band in his new book Beerlicious: The Art of Grillin’ & Chillin, and is working on a Raise A Little Hell hot sauce.
The book contains a note from McGuire (who has written his own book based on his journals from the road, Here For A Good Time), and a recipe for General Hand Grenade steak, named after another Trooper classic song.
And, of course, there is the constant love from arguably Canada’s funniest man, Rick Mercer, on his CBC show, The Rick Mercer Report.
B.C. media superstars such as Red Robinson and Terry David Mulligan are among those pushing to have Trooper enshrined in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Given that the group has sold millions of records (their greatest hits album, Hot Shots, has gone six times platinum in Canada), has recorded a couple of dozen hits such as Raise A Little Hell, We’re Here For a Good Time, Pretty Lady, 3 Dressed Up As A 9, won a Juno for band of the year and has been acknowledged as one of Canada’s top-five selling bands of all time, it’s a wonder Trooper isn’t already in the shrine.
But the band itself won’t be pushing for enshrinement, and McGuire admits he’s uncomfortable with the subject.
“We are, of course, honoured that people are making that effort,” said McGuire. “We’d be super chuffed to be inducted, but the truth is that our best reward continues to be the sold-out shows we do across the country.”
And Trooper is loved coast to coast.
McGuire said Newfoundland remains their favourite place to play.
They just finished a pair of sold-out shows in Inuvik, the band’s third visit to the Northwest Territories, where they’ve been afforded the chance to drive the ice roads to Tuktoyaktuk, race three-wheelers across the tundra and ride in war canoes.
The fact Trooper is playing Vernon on Canada Day is not lost on McGuire.
“Our first album was released on Canada Day in 1975,” he said.
“It’s always been a significant day for us. Last year, we partied with more than 100,000 people at the Surrey Canada Day celebrations. You can expect a rockin’ show in Vernon.”
Trooper’s appearance at Funtastic comes on the heels of Darby Mills and the Headpins, and Kenny Shields and Streetheart, kicking off the weekend.
“We’ve played tons of shows with both Darby (we did an wonderful summer show in Vernon with her and Long John Baldry years ago) and Kenny,” said McGuire.
“They’re two of many rock and roll brothers and sisters that make up a motley crew of music veterans that hooks up frequently throughout the summer – in towns and cities all over this great country of ours.”
If you miss Trooper live, you can catch up with the band via social media, which the group heartily embraces through Facebook and Twitter.
“Our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/trooperband) is a place where old fans hang out and new fans stop by to see what’s new,” said McGuire.
“We try to keep things interesting there. We’ve been on Twitter for years; me as @ramcguire and the band as @trooperband. We, of course, encourage everyone to follow us to see how things unfold daily in Trooperland.”
Trooper will raise a little hell for a good time at the A&W Funtastic Music Festival at the Vernon Army Camp Sunday. Opening July 1 is Aerosmith Rocks and We Are Live.