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Wednesday, 02 October 2013 13:27

Singer’s salute to military tour winds down in Suffield

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While it’s not a musical pilgrimage, per sé, Calgary native and folk singer Chris Gheran has definitely had the opportunity to journey, experience and perform for those in the military.


Gheran is on the final leg of his 2013 Digging Holes Military Tour where he has performed only in venues or communities which are military related such as military bases and Royal Canadian Legions.
He is closing his tour with stops in Lethbridge Oct. 12 and at the Jubilee Arms in Ralston Oct. 13 starting at 7:30 p.m. The tour began with a kickoff Sept. 12 at the Royal Canadian Legion Centennial Branch in his hometown of Calgary.
The tour was in part a tribute to his grandfather, who was a soldier in the Second World War and to a cousin who did a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Also being a military history buff, Gheran noted the Canadian Armed Forces are close to his heart and doing a tour like this was the least he could do considering all the military has done for the country.
The plan wasn’t for Gheran to find any deep, spiritual meaning from the tour, but just to show some respect for those he has admired. Wow, was he wrong.
“Best tour ever,” states the extremely easy-going and likeable singer who is oozing with talent. “I’ve experienced emotions I had no idea I would have on this tour.
“I went in with zero expectations. As a touring folk artist, I’ve never really been part of a group. Yet with the military people, they build something with each other and they somehow brought me into their group and invited me to their worlds which most people don’t see. I felt some pretty large peaks of happiness ... I really do appreciate what they do and what they did.”
The idea stemmed from a tour he just finished. He said everywhere he went he kept seeing re-occurring sights of lonely Legion Halls in each of the communities he made stops. In some cases, the club’s popularity was waning and he felt bad about that. Being a military history buff and with his family connections to the military, Gheran and his people decided to make some phone calls to military bases and Legion Halls to gauge some interest in a “military stop-only” type tour. He admits, it was mixed.
“Some of them were really stoked about it and the others were a little bit more hesitant,” explains Gheran. “Eventually, everyone was receptive and I had warm receptions wherever I went. Everyone was really caring. Straight up man, civilians don’t understand the comradery and the care level they have for each other. How could you (considering what they experienced)?”
The singer would go in with different music sets depending on where he was playing. He would go in with a more aggressive, harder set for the military bases and a softer, toned-down set for those retired military types which frequented the Legions.
With songs like Just the Two of Us, Love Don't Come Easy, Oh Dear and the humorous You’ll Do, Gheran says he was accepted with open arms. In fact, he would end up socializing with fans afterwards where they would trade stories.
Gheran fondly recalls a stop he made in Southport, a military air force base in Manitoba Sept. 27. Following another good show, he sat around with some of the young pilots. After some fun socializing, in a touching moment some of them ripped off some of their air force patches off their jackets and gave them to Gheran as momentos.
Gheran has also been taking photos and putting them up on his web page (http://www.chrisgheran.com/DiggingHoles.html) of all of the places and a few of the people he’s met.
“I like small venues anyway,” explains Gheran. Being lyric-driven, the intimate crowds that’s what they come for to listen to the music and they’re a little quieter quieter generally so you can just play. I mean if you’re in a big concert theatre and they’re quiet, that’s great too, but...”
Gheran says the experience has been such a worthwhile one and while there is some fodder for writing some songs later on, he admits it will take some time to digest all that he has been through.
Those who are interested in going to the Ralston concert can phone 403-544-4000 (ext. 4100) for tickets. Tickets are an affordable $10. He is also in Lethbridge at the 20th Field Battery Oct. 12.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor