Ian Harker and Friends This Saturday at The Leeky

This Saturday night Ian Michael Harker will be performing at The Leeky Canoe, and he’ll be bringing some old friends along, Roy Genereaux and Dave Ramage.  The three long time Meaford buddies will be doing some songs together and take solo turns as well.  They also expect to be joined by Amanda Dorey for a song or two.

Ian has been living in Meaford since moving here from Welland at the age of twenty to work in the foundry that stood where the blue condos are now beside the river.  He and Roy had a local band for a number of years called Big Willie, a name that gave them lots of opportunities for clever tag lines.  Roy played bass.  He had picked up the guitar when he was in Grade 8.  “I only learned to play so I could sing,” he says.  He has a strong singing voice, particularly impressive when he covers Bob Seger.

Ian and friends will be doing some songs written by Dave Ramage.  Dave, from a long standing Meaford family, is a songwriter who has been to Nashville and plays guitar, banjo and harmonica, his originals falling into the category of folk/rock.  Ian is particularly impressed with Dave’s songwriting skills, noting the social awareness aspects of his music, adding, “he writes songs that stir your moral compass.”

Ian has always been singing but he didn’t learn to play guitar until he was 28.  He was singing in a band and “they kept playing songs out of my key” so he decided to learn guitar to accompany himself.  For a couple of years he played dinner music at Ted’s Range Road Diner.  It was a time of growth because when the audience would request something he didn’t know he would go home and learn it for the next week.  That way he delved into a variety of styles and found himself particularly drawn to Motown and jazz standards.  He’s developed a great crooner’s style with bossa nova rhythms and he delivers the songs of Marvin Gaye with particular authority and a nice groove.

Ian is also the founder of Harkerfest, a free music and camping weekend that started on his Meaford property back in the 90’s.  It became legendary among local players but went into hiatus for the past eight or nine years.  Now he’s planning on bringing it back this summer, maybe even adding a second stage.  Although he provides professional sound, portable toilets and potable water, there is no charge to attend and friends can camp out on the property.  He covers costs by selling T-shirts and hoodies, but the real purpose is to bring together friends to celebrate live music.  His priority is to make it inclusive, and he expects that, as in the past, people will respect his property.  “When you don’t sell tickets,” he says, “people know that they’re guests.”

Saturday night at The Leeky should be a good preview of the kind of life-affirming musical fellowship that Ian and friends believe in.

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