Canyon delights at the kitchen party

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George Canyon hosted a kitchen party on Friday night, as did those in his hometown of Pictou County, Nova Scotia.

The “kitchen” in this case was the Empress Theater, which was filled with 300 of Canyon’s closest friends.

“When I got the call to come play at the Empress, I didn’t even breathe, I just said yes,” Canyon said of the chance to perform at the historic theater.

The 51-year-old Juno winner and Canadian Country Music Award Male Artist of the Year performed his acoustic show at the Empress Theatre.

Canyon was originally going to be accompanied by a bassist, but those plans fell through when the guitarist came down with COVID-19.

That left Canyon alone for a two-hour show that featured his own songs mixed in with covers of hits made famous by people whose work impressed Canyon.

Between songs, Canyon told stories about some of their origins as well as events that shaped his life.

The country singer, who owns a ranch west of Nanton, mixed the music and stories with plenty of self-deprecating humor, creating a comfortable and relaxed setting for him and his fans.

“That’s how I grew up playing, just sitting around the kitchen table at home,” Canyon said.

Canyon opened the show with two Johnny Cash songs, I Walk the Line and Burning Ring of Fire, encouraging the audience to sing along – like at one of those kitchen parties.

He followed with the first song he wrote with Dean Brody on his horse Chester titled Good Day to Ride.

Canyon continued with their own hits including Just Like You, Drinkin’ Thinkin’ and Slow Dance.

Canyon told the public that early in his career people told him he would have to move to the United States if he wanted to be successful.

At one point, he was encouraged to tell people he came from Florida in order to win the Nashville Stars talent show.

Canyon has stayed true to its Canadian roots and now considers itself a proud Albertan.

“I came back to Canada and had a very blessed career and never had to live in the United States,” Canyon said. “My wife and I are so grateful to all the fans. Without you . . . we would have had to leave the greatest country in the world.

Canyon slipped in some of his new, yet to be recorded songs and delighted fans with the one he wrote for his wife titled I’ll Never Do Better Than You.

Canyon spoke about his faith, his devotion to his family, including his wife Jennifer and children Kale and Madison, and his trips abroad to entertain the troops.

He sang two Willie Nelson songs, On the Road Again and Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain, and said he once met the legend backstage.

Canyon talked about the opportunity he had to make guest appearances on shows such as Trailer Park Boys and Heartland, as well as 18 appearances on the Grand Ol’ Opry.

Canyon drew inspiration from the playlists of other famous singers such as Johnny Horton (Battle of New Orleans), Waylon Jennings (Just a Good Ol’ Boy) and Canadian star Ian Tyson (Navajo Rug).

Canyon closed the show with Danny Boy and another nod to Johnny Cash with Folsom Prison Blues.

Canyon, who has four gold records and a platinum record under his belt, invited the public to stop by his ranch if he was stepping out that way.

“If you’re there, stop by for a coffee,” Canyon said. “And I’m not kidding. We need to get back to the community. For too long we have been living inside our own bubble. My grandparents, and their grandparents before them, everyone depended on each other for something called survival. We have to come back to that.

“I strongly believe in taking care of your own and your loved ones, as well as complete strangers if they want to be part of this community as well.”

And if you stop, well, who’s to say there won’t be another kitchen party?


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