Fans across Canada will get the chance to ‘Skinnamarink’ one last time as Sharon and Bram head out on their final tour – their 40th anniversary farewell tour.
The tour is part of the duo’s Thank you for the Music initiative, which is meant to shine a light on the importance of coming together to sing and embrace the values of togetherness, diversity and inclusiveness.
The duo will head to the Red Deer Memorial Centre April 5th to perform some of their famous songs, known by many throughout their childhoods.
And Red Deer holds a special place in Bram’s heart as he has had quite the connection with it from a young age.
When he was about four years old, his father, who was in the Canadian Army near the end of the war, was stationed in Red Deer with the Royal Canadian Army Service Core and Bram and his mother made a special trip to visit him.
“I remember it being very cold and very snowy, I remember learning my lesson about, ‘Don’t put your tongue on a piece of metal’. You don’t forget that sort of thing.”
The best part of one of his other trips to Red Deer many years later with Sharon and Lois was when he went to the Memorial Centre.
Bram was talking to the manager there, telling him stories about his time in Red Deer when he was a little boy and he also told him that one of those memories he had was being in a large building, which was used as a drill hall for men to do their marching in when it was too cold to go outside.
“I remember watching the men doing their drill while they were doing it in this big hall and he said, ‘you’re standing in it!’” And now the duo will return there one last time as part of their tour, minus Lois as she passed away a few years ago.
Bram said it’s a mixed emotion being on their final tour.
“I’m 78 now and I’ve had some ill health in the past, I’m much better right now, I’m feeling pretty good actually but I would like to take advantage of that time that I have while I’m still active, curious and interested. I want to get out and do some more travelling,” he said in a recent chat.
“This is largely for me.”
The group got their success in Toronto, where they started a record called One Elephant, Deux Éléphants.
“We got the name from a song called One Elephant Went Out To Play, which we knew in both English and French translation and we thought, well being good Canadians we would put something important bilingually about the recording, so we called the record One Elephant, Deux Éléphants after that song because it was English and french alternating verses.”
So, the three financed the record themselves with money invested by family and friends and recorded it in the Spring of 1978. It was released in the Fall of that year with live concerts at Young Peoples Theatre in Toronto.
And the success was huge.
The trio later had access to CBC National Radio and were on recordings and live interviews with CBC across the country, which is what started their career as trans Canada artists.
With so many incredible moments in the entertainment world, Bram said among many other great moments, the top honour was when they received the Order of Canada.
“It’s interesting because Sharon and I are both born Canadian, Lois was an American and she and her husband immigrated to Canada in 1966 but she never took Canadian citizenship and never gave up her American citizenship and so her Order of Canada was an honourary one.”
When it comes to Bram’s memories of Lois, he said they made a good mix.
“It’s interesting. Of the trio Sharon and I had the most folk music background, she was raised from a child with folk music in her life. I came to it a little bit later, I came to it during my teen years and Lois did not have that folk background, what she had was a classical music background.
“I think that the mixture of what Sharon and I both brought mixed with the pizzazz that Lois brought. It was a really good mixture.”
When it came to performing, Bram said they always chose material and repertoire for the audience to participate.
“We always picked songs that had choruses that repeated after every verse so that they listened to a verse and then boom, they’re back with us in the chorus.
“We realized quite early that people really like that. We knew it, but we came to realize it even more strongly because people like singing together and it used to be in previous generations that people would get together around the piano on a Sunday afternoon and somebody would play the piano and they would sing old songs.”
He said that seems to be long gone.
“All of those things have been slowly withdrawing from the culture of our civilization and yet people still like singing together and we provided that.”
Once the tour is finished Bram plans to travel a lot.
“As long as I’ve got the will and the strength we’re going to get out there and we’re going to see places that we;ve never seen before and go back to places that we have been that we like a lot,” he said about him and his wife’s plans to jet set.
In the meantime, the duo also plans to publish a picture book of Skinnamarink through Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
For tickets to their upcoming show visit tickets.blackknightinn.ca.