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General News · 15th March 2011
Ralph Nursall
An evening with Ian Tamblyn (Saturday, March 12, 2011)

It was a dark and stormy night, but inside Gorge Hall it was warm and cheery. A small gathering of perceptive souls sat in contentment to listen to troubadour Ian Tamblyn and his guitars.

Ian sat, in friendly ease, on the stage, to talk and sing to us. He told us of adventures and escapades in Bamfield, Pangnirtung, on the Labrador coast, in the Antarctic, in the forests of Canada, and on its seas. His anecdotes were enlarged and coloured when he sang the songs that he had written, in and about these places. He spoke and sang about the challenges of reaching and performing in isolated hamlets where trees, or oil, or ore are the main objects of attention, where tree-huggers are not admired, and town pride is prickly. Ian took no sides; his tales were amusing, heart-warming, captivating. He spoke of his pleasure in teaching and singing to children. His songs gave lilt to it all.

Ian told us that Connie Kaldor, among others, had complained that he gave undue emphasis to the coasts, and to forests and the mountains. “What about the prairies?” he was asked. Challenged by this, he told how he set out on the TransCanada Highway, to cross and explore the prairies, flat and dull though they be. Dismayed by the flat straightness of Highway 1, he asked, whenever there was local conversation, “Can you direct me to a better road than #1?” As a result, he was sent to some of the secondary roads that traverse the prairies north to south. In that way he found the Alberta Bad Lands, the Cypress Hills, the short grass Palliser Triangle where the author Sharon Butala (who, for many years, has taught at Hollyhock) lives, and where my grandfather homesteaded, and some of the deep-valleyed rivers that stitch the prairies together. All of this (except the part about my grandfather) he put together in a picaresque conversational song that warmed my prairie heart!

Ian, during his career, has written more than 1500 songs and has published 28 albums, cassettes and CDs. He has been nominated for and received many honours. His music and lyrics deal with the world we know, the goings-on in which we can win or lose, and the sheer fun that can be had by being alive and aware of ourselves and the world around us. Ian Tamblyn gave us a most pleasingly informal performance and easily enjoyable evening. Let’s hope that we can have him back again!

Ralph Nursall