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Classic Lake Winnipeg folk songs get a musical makeover

Love, Lake Winnipeg: A tribute to the songs of Sol Sigurdson

 

Update: Tickets for our Love, Lake Winnipeg raffle are on sale now! Only $5 each (or three for $10), they offer another way to support LWF - and a chance to win amazing prizes. We'll also be selling tickets at our Jan. 14 benefit show. The draw will be that night but you don't have to be at the concert to win. Good luck!

Almost 50 years after they were first recorded to vinyl, folk songs documenting life on Lake Winnipeg are being given new life – and new purpose.

Love, Lake Winnipeg: A tribute to the songs of Sol Sigurdson, is a collaborative project featuring select tracks from Riverton singer-songwriter Sol Sigurdson’s 1970 cult classic, The Lake Winnipeg Fisherman, reimagined by an eclectic group of contemporary Manitoba musicians.

All proceeds raised through the project will support the Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF), a Winnipeg-based environmental charity working to restore and protect the health of Lake Winnipeg through research, public education, stewardship and collaboration.

The limited-edition four-song EP features contributions by notable local artists:

  • DJ Co-op
  • Mise en Scene
  • Scott Nolan and John K. Samson
  • Jess Reimer

It was produced by John K. Samson, former frontman of acclaimed Winnipeg band The Weakerthans.

“Lake Winnipeg is at the core of who we are as Manitobans: it defines our geography, drives our economy, shapes our culture and supports our biodiversity,” says Alexis Kanu, LWF’s executive director.

“We’re thrilled that these musicians are uniting their voices in support of Manitoba’s great lake – and we’re grateful to Sol for giving us the opportunity to revive his songs for new generations of lake-lovers to enjoy.”

Sol Sigurdson grew up in Riverton, Man., born into a commercial fishing family that was active on Lake Winnipeg for decades. In the 1960s, he was the singer and principal songwriter of The Whisky Jacks, a fixture at local hootenannies in dancehalls throughout the Interlake area. His songs reference real people, places and events from Manitoba’s commercial fishing history.

Sigurdson, 80, now lives in Edmonton, Alta., with his wife, Shirley.

“I’ve often been introduced as ‘The Lake Winnipeg Fisherman,’ but actually, the songs honour the real fishermen on the lake,” Sigurdson says. “They and their Lake Winnipeg way of life are what the songs are celebrating.”

He adds: “Although times have changed, the lake continues to play an important role in the lives of people who now live, work and play along its shores.”

The Lake Winnipeg Fisherman was recorded for Manitoba’s Centennial year in 1970. Almost five decades later, Lake Winnipeg’s health is struggling. Excessive phosphorus is contributing to the growth of harmful algae blooms which are contaminating beaches, reducing water quality and threatening livelihoods. In 2013, international conservation organization Global Nature Fund designated Lake Winnipeg as its “Threatened Lake of the Year.” The recent arrival of zebra mussels has added another layer of complexity to an already complicated situation.

“The challenges facing Lake Winnipeg get a lot of attention, but they’re not the whole story. We’re excited to be part of a good-news story today,” Kanu says.

“Our members and supporters aren’t ready to give up on Lake Winnipeg. This project is a reminder that our lake is worth celebrating – and worth fighting for.”

Love, Lake Winnipeg: A tribute to the songs of Sol Sigurdson will be released on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, at an exclusive benefit concert in Winnipeg at the West End Cultural Centre (WECC). As an expression of thanks – and in celebration of LWF’s 10-year anniversary – all audience members in attendance will receive free copies of the EP!

Update: The ticket pre-purchase window has now closed. A small amount of remaining tickets will be available at the door; please note, the West End Cultural Centre's box office is set up for cash sales only. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Our thanks go out to all the musicians for contributing their considerable talent to this project.

Thanks also to our generous sponsors, Johnston Group, Assiniboine Credit Union and Tuxedo Dental Group’s Dr. Marc Mollot.

LWF publishes a newsletter, The Watershed Observer, twice a year. Our most recent edition includes an update on our community-based monitoring efforts, a profile on LWF member and volunteer extraordinaire Paul Trevenen, plus information about proposed changes to provincial legislation that could affect Manitoba water quality and how you can get involved.