FIRST CLASS - Tri-Continental performs March 3rd at the Elks Lodge featuring the talents of Lester Quitzau, Bill Bourne and Madagascar Slim (pictured). Presented by the Central Music Society, showtime is at 8 p.m. with the doors opening at 7 p.m. photo submitted

Central Music Festival presents acclaimed group Tri-Continental

Show kicks off at 8 p.m. at the Elks Lodge with doors opening at 7 p.m.

Known by the world over for their compelling, intricately-crafted tunes, Tri-Continental will be performing in Red Deer March 3rd.

Presented by the Central Music Festival Society, the show kicks off at 8 p.m. at the Elks Lodge with doors opening at 7 p.m.

Advance tickets are available online at www.centralmusicfest.com for $30.

They can also be purchased at the door for $35.

Tri-Continental, which first formed nearly 20 years ago, features the musical mastery of Madagascar Slim, Bill Bourne and Lester Quitzau. The three are tremendous artists in their own right, but there is certainly something special and striking about when they merge their talents into a singular force onstage.

For this coming tour, the guys will be hitting the stage with some new cuts – and of course lots of older favourites, said Slim, a folk and blues guitarist who hails from Madagascar but settled in Ontario back in 1979.

When the tour wraps, they will then be heading into the studio and recording tracks for a new project. So the tour is a terrific opportunity to test out some of the tunes that will land on that brand new CD.

Slim recalls first joining up with Quitzau and Bourne, and what a fulfilling venture it has been since day one.

“It’s knowing that I’m going to be playing with them, and I just love playing with those guys,” he said during a recent chat just prior to flying out west. “I have the chance of doing different things with my own band, so with Bill and Lester it’s different. I really enjoy it – the musicianship, the friendships and the collaboration.”

He recalls first hearing Bourne at a Toronto club and being struck by his talent. They ended up onstage together, and Bourne told him about Quitzau. And a superb new band was born, although the men don’t live near each other. But no matter – they consistently link up, perform and have recorded some pretty memorable material over the years besides garnering a very loyal fan base through the years as well.

Besides being a member of Tri-Continental and the world music group African Guitar Summit, Slim also works as a solo artist and a regular collaborator with blues singer Ndidi Onukwulu.

As mentioned, he moved to Canada in 1979 to study English and accounting at Seneca College, pursuing music with the folk group La Ridaine while studying.

He has cited Jimi Hendrix and B.B. King as the two primary influences on his choice to become a guitarist.

Music indeed proved the right path for this man to pursue – he is a three time Juno-award winner, having won World Music Album of the Year in 2000 for his solo album Omnisource and in 2005 with African Guitar Summit and Roots & Traditional Album of the Year in 2001 with Tri-Continental.

“My mom and dad were musicians,” explains Slim of some of the initial inspiration to dive into music as his life’s work. “And then my brother got a guitar for passing an exam and I wanted to play it – but he wouldn’t let me,” he laughed.

But Slim didn’t give up. He eventually was able to build on his natural flair for guitar and a direction, as mentioned, was set – although his folks wanted him to be an accountant.

At first, he thought playing guitar would be a great way to get a girlfriend, he recalls with a chuckle. But it quickly became more than that – a constant challenge to get better and better.

“For me, it’s just a pleasure. It’s right up there. When I’m playing, I’m just really enjoying myself. I love it.”

For his part, Quitzau, according to his bio, is, ‘A mellow guy who throws down a heavy groove. In a field where intangibles like feel and integrity count for so much, Quitzau has forged an exemplary career.

And of course Bourne is no stranger to local music fans. Born here in Red Deer, he was raised in a musical family in rural Alberta. His musical education began at two years of age when he would sleep behind the piano at country dances where his parents’ band would perform.

According to his web site, Bourne’s professional music career has spanned more than three decades. In that time he has toured the western world and released several recordings. He actively writes, records, and tours.

Again, advance tickets for Tri-Continental’s show are available online at www.centralmusicfest.com for $30.

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