This is a photo from 1968 showing Ron Larson, Harry Heckenliable and Joe Boschee working together at a wedding function and it is the only photo we have of Ron in the 60s de spite the fact that Ron was very active in the Medicine Hat music scene of that time. The story of Ron Larson is very interesting and his involvement with local country music continues to this day.
An often, for whatever reason, overlooked player in the 1960s Medicine Hat music scene is Ron Larson. Ron has spent the better part of 50 years being a flag waver and advocate for traditional country music and has never strayed from that course . He was the very popular country DJ at CHAT Radio from about 1965 to 1969 and this, of course, gave him the opportunity to promote his live events all over Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. He played the usual local clubs and bars as well as doing Saturday night dances in many of the rural communities….the kind of dances that would attract 200 people in a town that only had 100 residents because people would come in from the farms to have a fun night out. He worked with the usual pool of local players including Harry Heckenliable ( see Harry Heckenliable) Joe Boschee ( See Joe Boschee ), Ray Spackman ( See Ray and Wayne Spackman ), John Somolia and Roger Farr. In the current sea of contemporary country artists he can still be counted on to play the “roots” country music that he loves.
In 1969 Ron left the Hat to go on the road for 2 years playing the lounges around Alberta and Saskatchewan before settling in to a position as a DJ at radio station CKKR in Rosetown, Sask. In about 1972 he recorded an LP called Your Favourite DJ which contained a number of very interesting original compositions as well as a few by country legend Dick Damron who also acted as producer on the project. Among the songs that received airplay are Your Favourite DJ, 26 Ounce Flu (more about that one later!!) and Charman.
Below are audio clips from the LP:
Your Favourite DJ: audio
This a photo from the March 7/2007 edition of the Medicine Hat News which carried an article by Billy Jones who accompanies Ron as steel guitarist on many of his appearances. Both Ron and Billy keep traditional country music alive with their involvement in the Live Music Club which is a group of dedicated local musicians that frequently get together to play music for all the right reasons……that is, for the love of music. Billy Jones , who toured for years with Stompin Tom Connors, and Ron co hosted a show on CHAT Radio for 8 years called Yesterday’s Country.
An interesting story about Ron is the one about the young 13 year old girl that was present at one of his shows and was seen thumbing through his song books at the side of the stage. He asked her if she could sing and she replied that she could so he asked her to come on up and sing with the band, which she eagerly did. He later gave the young girl a guitar and insisted that she learn to play it , which she did, all of which helped kick off the career of Terri Clark.
Something that may not be known by everyone is the fact that Ron’s composition of 26 Ounce Flu was picked up by a number of Hollywood shows including episodes of Star Trek, Cheersd, Pork Chop Hill as well as the movie When Harry Met Sally. The above SOCAN (Society Of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers Of Canada) royalty statement which shows that Ron’s composition and recording of 26 Ounce Flu was at least considered in these remarkable shows. Very cool!!
Below is an audio clip of 26 Ounce Flu:
26 Ounce Flu; audio
A photo dating to the early 1970s of Ron’s group the Westernaires, a group that prided itself in keeping alive traditional “roots” country music. L to R…John Somolia ( see Ray and Wayne Spackman ) , Joe Boschee (see Joe Boschee), Ron Larson and Roger Farr.
The front page of this site talks about how there were so many more venues offering live entertainment in Medicine Hat during the 1960s and 1970s and this newspaper ad shows that the Elks Club had 4 nights of entertainment per week and used two acts on Saturday night, including Ron Larson’s Westernaires. Today it can sometimes be a stretch to find a live music venue on a Saturday night.