Western roots singer Gary Fjellgaard first got to know Paul Valdemar Horsdal, better known as Valdy, in the mid-’70s, when the folk singer recorded a cover of Fjellgaard’s ode to his guitar, Me and Martin.
“[Valdy] said, ‘I was able to pave my driveway with the proceeds from the song’, and I said, ‘No, Valdy, you might have gravelled it a little bit,’” Fjellgaard said.
“So that was the beginning.”
Over the years, Fjellgaard and Valdy, who live on Gabriola and Salt Spring Island respectively, would run into each other at festivals and other events, but it wasn’t until around 2000 that the Juno winners toured together for the first time, playing a couple of shows in Alberta.
“They were quite successful, but we didn’t have any CD to back it up and so we wrote some songs together and did a CD and the rest is history,” Fjellgaard said.
That album, 2000’s Contenders, was the first in a trilogy of collaborations. Contenders Two: Still in the Running followed in 2007 and their last record together, Contenders 3: Off the Floor, was released in 2015.
“We called it Off the Floor because that’s what it was, right off the floor,” said Fjellgaard of the live recording process.
“So that third album is quite different from the first two, in that there’s no overdubs. It’s just Valdy and I playing on it live.”
Fans in Nanaimo will have a chance to hear from Fjellgaard, now a Canadian Country Hall of Famer, and Valdy, a member of the Order of Canada, when they come together for a joint concert at St. Andrew’s United Church on May 12. The show is part of the church’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
The singers will perform individually and as a duo. Fjellgaard said they complement each other, finding a balance between his country leanings and Valdy’s folk flavour.
“I think together we’ve been touring for probably 80-some-odd-years or more, collectively. I think it’s the nature of the music why were able to keep going…” Fjellgaard said.
“It’s very, very satisfying to know that the type of songs that we have, the type of music that we write, has got longevity.”
WHAT’S ON … Gary Fjellgaard and Valdy perform at St. Andrew’s United Church on Saturday, May 12. Doors at 7, show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30, available at Yours and Mine, Tom Lee Music and the church office.