‘Tour de Fort’ unveils new season

Duane Hicks

“Tour de Fort” wrapped up its 2018-19 entertainment series Friday night with a performance by Ryan McNally, at which time the exciting lineup for its new season starting this September was unveiled.

The 2019-20 series will include Carl Dixon (Sept. 5), Ken Lavigne: Three Knights with a Tenor (Oct. 10), Slocan Ramblers (Nov. 29), Benjamin Dakota Rogers (Feb. 14), and Lion Bear Fox (March 13).
The sixth and final artist is still to be announced.

“We are currently in the process of booking our final show of the season and hope to announce it in the next week or two,” said Tour de Fort programming and hospitality director John Payne, who shares in the programming duties with his wife, Sheri.

“We have an offer submitted on one act that has been conditionally accepted and they are trying to nail down the routing,” he noted.

“If that act falls through, we have our eye on another show,” Payne added.

“We are very excited about both shows, and either will complement the rest of the season,” he pledged.

Carl Dixon was lead singer of Canadian hard rock band Coney Hatch, later played in April Wine, and became lead singer of the Guess Who for eight years after Burton Cummings left the band.

After nearly dying in a head-on collision more than a decade ago, Dixon made a comeback as a musician, inspirational speaker, and businessman.

His solo show is a mix of electric and acoustic music, as well as stories from “a life well-rocked.”

“We have been meeting with Carl Dixon at Ontario Contact for the past few years and have finally been able to bring him to Fort Frances,” noted Payne.

“Carl is an incredible vocalist and musician,” he added.

“His stories from the road with Coney Hatch, April Wine, and the Guess Who, as well as the inspirational story of how he fought back from a near-fatal car accident, will make this a very memorable evening.”

Ken Lavigne will bring an exciting blend of classical tenor sound and modern style to the Townshend Theatre with his show, “Three Knights with a Tenor.”

Lavigne was a founding member of The Canadian Tenors and in 2006, he co-founded the successful tenor trio, ROMANZA, which toured throughout Canada and the U.S. presenting hundreds of concerts.

“It has been five years since Ken last took the Townshend stage and his show is still one of the most talked about,” said Payne.

“He is bringing a completely different show to us this season, featuring the music of Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber,” he noted.

The 2019 Juno Award-nominated Slocan Ramblers have been called Canada’s bluegrass band to watch, with a reputation for energetic live shows and impeccable musicianship.

“We are extremely lucky to have the Slocan Ramblers as a part of the 2019-20 season,” Payne enthused.

“Their energy and passion for their music has been met with rave reviews and has garnered them recognition across the country,” he remarked.

Hailing from the countryside of rural Scotland, Ont., Benjamin Dakota Rogers will bring a stylized folk sound, with influences of roots, blues, and country music, to the stage here.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Benjamin at Folk Music Ontario a couple of years ago and was instantly a fan,” Payne said.

“His ability to connect with the audience through his songs will make this a highlight of the season.”

Lion Bear Fox, meanwhile, will bring its unique three-man harmonies here to perform “a collection of intimate moments shared through songs about honest hope, sorrow, love, and joy.”

“Lion Bear Fox is another one of the acts that we have been pursuing for a number of years,” Payne revealed.

“Their show will be filled with incredible harmonies, and cover a range from quiet ballads to blues rock and everything in between,” he noted.

Passports for the new season currently are available online at www.tourdefort.com/tickets.php or at From the Grind Up on Scott Street.

Passports cost $110 for all six shows (less than $20 per show) until Sept. 1, at which time they go up to $135 (if there are any left by then).

As for the 2018-19 season, Payne said it proved to be one of his favourites thus far.

“We have had such a fantastic response from the community, with people coming up to us to tell us how much they enjoyed a show,” he noted.

“It is hard to pick out an individual show as a favourite from this season as all of them have made a lasting impression,” he added.

This past year’s lineup included Irish Mythen (Oct. 16), 54-40 (Nov. 11), Boreal (Dec. 7), The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer (Jan. 17), Don Ross and Calum Graham (Feb. 7), and Ryan McNally (March 22).