Thursday, 05 July 2018 06:02

Frenchman River Gospel Jam in Shaunavon – it’s worth the drive

Written by  Dorothy Lethbridge
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Oak Ridge Boys in Shaunavon this summer. Oak Ridge Boys in Shaunavon this summer. Photos contributed

The Frenchman River Gospel Jam (FRGJ) is one of Canada’s largest and longest running Gospel music festivals, providing outstanding entertainment and worship for almost three decades.

This event is located in the southwestern Saskatchewan town of Shaunavon, which is known for its down to earth hospitality, the most Olympians per capita of any location in Canada, and for the FRGJ. Often the town doubles its population during this weekend drawing people from near and far as a blend of top North American and local talent take to the stage.
Past line-ups include faith-based bands such as Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, High Valley, The Oak Ridge Boys, Diamond Rio, Paul Brandt, George Canyon, Hunter Brothers, and Southern Gospel giants such as The Browns, The Hoppers, Ball Brothers and countless others.
This year has a fantastic line up as well and it’s great to welcome back The Oak Ridge Boys as part of their “Shine the Light” tour on their only Canadian stop in 2018.
The three-day weekend event starts Friday night and concludes Sunday at 5 pm, with the usual wide selection of musical talent spanning a broad appeal.
The Friday concert features Branson, Missouri based, The Petersens, joined by Canada’s Double Portion and Catherine Lewans Band. The Friday’s Late Night Stage offers a more casual atmosphere for the young and young-at-heart to enjoy the Hip Hop Crew of Legacy One performing Spoken Work Poetry with DJ music.
Saturday morning and afternoon has a series of concerts on the Free Stage which include every band of the event other than the Oak Ridge Boys. This also includes such talent at the Trudel Family Band and Jay & Jo.
This stage also presents the Local Legends segment of FRGJ, showcasing local talent. This vision has given a platform for the early years of bands, such as Hunter Brothers, High Valley, and Catherine Lewans, from which to grow.
Saturday evening will showcase the southern Gospel sounds of The Nelons. This legendary band was inducted in the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2016. They have been featured on the Gaither Hymn Sings, and have had their time on the Grand Ole Opry stage. The following evening they will perform their Americana favorites which including such songs as Gentle on My Mind, Coat of Many Colours, Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
As stated in their bio, “A concert with The Nelons leaves you encouraged by the message of hope shared from their hearts, warmed by the love of family you feel from the stage, and inspired by the beauty, purity, and majesty of the lyrics they sing.”
Opening for The Nelons will be one of Canada’s premier emerging worship bands, Grace Revolution. Their repertoire includes original anthem-style songs combined with timely anointed worship songs popularized by groups such as Hillsong and Bethel. They are fresh, gifted and with a heart and energy to impact all generations.
Also featured on this main stage will be Ben Crane who is an award-winning, top-selling cartoonist with greeting card giant Leanin’ Tree. Joined by his fiddle playing daughter, Jessica, Ben always presents his wholesome humour through music and visuals. With roots in traditional country, Ben incorporates hints of bluegrass, blues and swing.
Saturday Late Night is with the talented looper, Paul Woida. We’re expecting a large number of youth attending and camping for the weekend.
New to FRGJ this year is a Sunday morning Hymn Sing hosted by Maria Drost, daughter of Shaunavon born Olympian Jungle Jim Hunter. Following a brief break will be the worship service with Grace Revolution followed by speaker T.J Green.
Sunday from 2-5 p.m. features the iconic Oak Ridge Boys. This is a full show with all the production of any Oak Ridge Boys concert date. This segment allows plenty of time to take a drive through the country to Shaunavon, and enjoy some homemade pie upon arriving for the intimate concert experience. Day tickets are $55 in advance for this segment.
Advance weekend tickets are only $90. Ages 12 and under are free. Other freebees include: Saturday Pancake Breakfast; Saturday’s Kid’s Zone Tent; Saturday all day Free Stage; Late Night Stage; RV and tent camping (including a new dump station); On Site Parkin.g
Thanks to the generosity of the sponsors and donations during this event to make this possible. It is also with the support of numerous volunteers from around the country that this event is made possible and affordable.
FRGJ had its beginnings at the Frenchman River Valley, south of the town. As it grew in size it was obvious that an indoor modern facility was needed and resulted in the move to the Crescent Point Wickenheiser Centre, named after the Oil Company and Olympian Hailey Wickenheiser.
The Centre provides the amenities to better handle the larger crowds and contributes to the comfort of the participants in providing air conditioning and seating regardless if it’s rain or shine.
Please see for a complete listing of talent, schedule and ticket purchasing information.
The Frenchman River Gospel Jam is so worth the drive.
Frenchman River Gospel Jam - 2018 Schedule
6 p.m. Doors Open
6:30-9:30 p.m.  Opening Ceremonies; Canada's Double Portion; Catherine Lewans Band; The Petersens. 
FRIDAY Late Night Youth (FREE STAGE)
9:30-11 p.m.–Hip Hop Jam w/ Legacy One; (Live & DJ Music, Spoken Word-Poetry)
8-9:45 a.m .Free Pancake Breakfast
9:45 am Trudel Family Band; Canada's Double Portion: Ben Crane and Jessica; The Petersens
12-1 p.m. LUNCH BREAK
1-2:30 p.m. LOCAL LEGENDS hosted by Catherine Lewans: Phil & Catherine Lewans; Conrad Sandberg & His Prairie Pals; Lindsey Phillips (Talent Winner)    Janise Michel; Torin Pegg (Talent Winner); Hansons
2:30-5 p.m. Trudel Family / Jay & Jo The Nelons; The Petersens; Grace Revolution
SATURDAY 12- 3 p.m.– Kid’s Zone Tent (SKATE BOARD PARK)
6 p.m. Doors Open
6:30-9 p.m. Ben Crane & Jessica     Grace Revolution       
The Nelons (Southern Gospel Style Concert)
9-11 p.m. Looper/Singer- Paul Woida w/Guests
9:30-10:30 a.m.     Hymn Sing w/Maria Drost & Guests
10:30-11 a.m.     Break
11-12:30 a.m.     Worship w/ Grace Revolution, Speaker T.J. Green 
1:30 p.m. Doors Open
2 p.m. Ben Crane & Jessica
2:30 p.m. The Nelons (Americana Favorites Concert)
3:15 p.m. The Oak Ridge Boys
4:45 p.m. FRGJ Closing Comments.

COntributed photo pf the Nelons at Grand Ol Opry

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