The ‘Best Of’ Buddy
After 35 years of laughs and connecting Newfoundlanders far and wide, Buddy Wasisname and The Other Fellers dive into the well for The ‘Best Of’ Tour
A lot can happen in 35 years. A lot HAS happened to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians over the course of three and a half decades. Without delving into history lessons, we’ve been beaten down, propped up, staggered, stunted, elevated and awe-inspired, sometimes all at the same time. It’s never boring, being of this place, though there are few things that stay consistent, that tie us together and scream ‘of our blood.’
THIS IS US …
Not to get too cliche, but there are certain things that make us who we are as a people, the sounds, sights, and experiences of Newfoundlandlia. When you see it, you know – a big THIS IS US epiphany.
Does anything scream proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian quite like Buddy Wasisname and The Other Fellers? Through 35 years of provincial eb and flow, Buddy and the b’ys have been there, and while nothing is certain, little is consistent, Buddy Wasisname and The Other Fellers are a tried and true recipe for good times, a guarantee of laughter and home-grown feels of pride.
Now, in the fall of 2017, Wayne Chaulk, Kevin Blackmore, Ray Johnson and Byron Pardy are in the midst of a Buddy ‘Best Of’ Tour, one that collects the best of the best of three decades and crams it into one epic night at the theatre.
‘We’ve Been Surprised’
For Wayne Chaulk, architect of one of the island’s most beloved anthems Saltwater Joys, the idea that fans have flocked, and continue to in 2017, is icing on an already satisfying cake.
“I think Kevin and Ray would agree with me that all along through this musical career we’ve been surprised,” Chaulk says after kicking off the ‘Best Of’ Tour in Labrador. “We all played in bands and did all kinds of things musically, and we were all to the point where publicly we wouldn’t be performing anymore. We got together and just started to have fun together and it just sort of went from there. When the phone started to ring and we started to get some major bookings it was like wow, we can’t believe people like this. All along the way there’s been surprises, even today. It’s not something you can calculate and plan for and do and say with certainty that you’re going to have this number of people who buy your albums and come out to see ya. We still shake ourselves and say God, are we ever blessed that we got the reaction that we did, and we never take it for granted.”
‘Best Of’ Format
The fan-friendly ‘Best Of’ format has ensured packed houses and satisfied customers in engagements across the province this fall. While churning out timeless tunes and sketches may be fun for the fans, it is also an enjoyable and near-effortless trek through tried-and-true favourites, shares Kevin Blackmore.
“We know all of this stuff is tried in front of audiences and works. We do expect a reaction and we do get it. Whether it be crying emotional or extreme laughter, we do get it and we do know when it’s coming. There’s an extreme pleasure in being able to construct a show with a predictable wave of emotions and it works and it is special to us, being able to do these as we’ve done them years ago, or even better now.”
“We’re getting big reactions to almost everything that we do because immediately when you strike that first note people will say that’s the one the wife and I used to sing!,” adds Chaulk in agreement. “Or the kids sang growing up. It’s tied to their histories.”
While not remotely near the idea of slapping an expiration date on the band, all hands involved do agree that the future calls for a slowing of pace and a dialing back of large-scale touring. Not goodbye, just more of a scaling back, for all the right reasons.
“Basically we’ve decided to slow down, to wind down a bit, with no determinant end,” Chaulk says. “At this point we’re not saying, boom! And in a year now this will all be over or anything like that. We agree, three of us agree, we won’t be doing a full-fledged 36-gig Arts and Culture Centre tour. We’re not saying we won’t do it anymore but at this point we’re seriously winding down.”
“Personally I’m afraid of two things in my life. Number one is the physical health of everyone around me that I depend on to get out on the road, including my own physical health, and the second is my own diminishing creativity and that is inevitable,” adds Blackmore. “In every wise performer’s life there comes a time when you realize you’ve created most everything you’re going to create and it is time to taper off and rest a little on your laurels, which is what we’re doing now. We’ve been writing a new show, for every show, since we’ve started, and now it’s to the point where we realize that we don’t have to do that. We do have something in the order of 18 full shows and when you look at each one and start pulling from them, you can pull out some quite delicious stuff and re-present it, stuff that hasn’t been on stage in 20 years and in some cases 25 years. We can do that, we can rest on our laurels.”
There is no easy recipe for 35 years of good-will, fan adoration and critical and commercial success – no magic potion. When asked that open-ended and wide question, both Blackmore and Chaulk draw to a similar conclusion, that Buddy Wasisname and The Other Fellers have tapped into something that resonates with a large swath of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, something timeless, that continues to grow to this day.
‘Love About Place’
“Kevin, Ray and I, we talk about and we sing about and we present in a way that is about us as a people and this place,” Chaulk explains. “We didn’t start this to learn hit songs or to learn established songs and just present them. What we did is say lets let loose and have fun and look at people and laugh at their oddities and find things to make entertainment out of. I suppose people in Newfoundland and Labrador will say ‘jeez this is about us, this is familiar.’ Maybe not a lot of groups have done that and probably that’s the reason why we’ve been embraced by so many people.”
“The songwriting and sketch writing and recitations are all about things we know,” Blackmore says. “We haven’t broke into things we aren’t familiar with. We’re not writing love songs, unless it’s love about place. We’re not writing pop for the sake of the big pop machine. What we’re doing is we’re just writing down the experiences, predominantly of rural Newfoundlanders. It resonates and connects with all of the people and the ex-pats when we’re travelling and all the people we perform in front of back home. It’s their story as much as it is ours.”
Tour dates for Buddy Wasisname and The Other Fellers’ cross-island Arts and Culture Centre tour are available at the box office and at artsandculturecentre.com. The new DVD for The Last Laff Tour is available at shows and soon to be available in stores.