Stampeders rocking their way across province

Group playing Nanaimo’s Port Theatre this Thursday, June 30

The Stampeders play Nanaimo’s Port Theatre June 30. (Photo submitted)

The Stampeders play Nanaimo’s Port Theatre June 30. (Photo submitted)

The Stampeders, touring across B.C. this spring and summer, were one of the first Canadian rock ‘n’ roll acts to tour right across the country.

It was the early 1970s, and Donald K. Donald, a promoter from Montreal, had Kim Berly (drums), Rich Dodson (lead guitar), and Ronnie King (bass) playing almost any place with an arena.

Their first hit Sweet City Woman came out in 1971, and audiences were agog.

“The people who come to see us now are the people who came to see us then,” Berly said. “So many of them will say, ‘You were the first famous band that we ever went to see. You came to our town or small city when there were no other acts touring.’”

He said most of the other bands people would hear on the radio were American or British, and they were typically limiting their stops to the big cities exclusively.

More than 50 years later the Stampeders are still getting love from Canadian towns, but their days of rocking out in arenas are over.

“They’re actually horrible places to play,” Berly said, laughing. “Instead we’re playing all these lovely little theatres.”

Berly said the band makes sure the audiences who pay to come see them get an incredible performance.

“You put it all out in those 90 minutes that you’re out on the stage, and the rest of the time you can be as lazy and tired as you want,” Berly explained.

Touring at this stage in their life is aided by the band members getting along and enjoying playing together.

“The three of us have been friends for all these years,” he said. “It’s not like we show up in separate cars and don’t talk, and go our separate ways [after the show], which is the story for a lot of groups that have re-formed over the years. We drive together and have fun. A lot of laughs.”

It came as a surprise to Berly when the Stampeders reunited in 1992, and there was still an audience clamouring to see them. While many people at the shows these days are silvering above the ears, there are still some ticket holders who weren’t born during the band’s heyday.

“I am amazed that this entire younger generation is still aware of, exposed to and loves this music,” Berly said.

The Stampeders play the Port Theatre on Thursday, June 30. Visit www.porttheatre.com.

READ ALSO: Canadian classic rockers the Stampeders head to the Port Theatre

ronan.odoherty@campbellrivermirror.com

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