KAMSACK — Jake Vaadeland and the Sturgeon River Boys brought their unique blend of music to Kamsack, and their stellar performance brought out shouts for an encore from the audience. In an exclusive interview, Jake Vaadeland shared insights into the band's journey and experiences.
The band was selected by the Kamsack Arts Council after they performed at the OSAC (Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils) showcase.
"We went to the OSAC showcase and I imagined somebody from the Arts Council here was in attendance there," Vaadeland said. "We had all our stuff there, so we showcased there and they must have seen us and I guess they liked it. We’re stopping here in Kamsack along with all kinds of other dates in the future from now. Ee have OSAC to thank for that."
When asked if they had visited Kamsack before, Vaadeland mentioned passing through on their way to Manitoba but had never performed there until now. He expressed appreciation for the town.
“Now that I'm thinking about it, this one of the best, sort of more intimate crowds we've had so far of any venues we played. It’s a nice change and we always enjoy that. We had a good meal and it's a very nice place to be so far.”
Discussing their tour, Vaadeland outlined upcoming stops, mentioning what was then a upcoming Canora show among the 18 remaining shows. For specific details, he encouraged interested individuals to check their website jakevaadeland.com.
The conversation then shifted to the band's background, with Vaadeland sharing that he had been with this group full-time for three years. He attributed his musical inclination to his mother's side of the family.
“My dad was able to become a musician but his side of the family's not musical at all. And so it's my mother's side.
"I was surrounded by a lot of music, but I didn't figure I was going to be a musician at first. I thought that I would just grow up to be a cattle farmer like everybody else. I tried playing mandolin and things and I made so much racket that I decided to give it all up.
"Then I decided to try the banjo. And I figured well, I just want to know how to play it and maybe I'll just be a backup banjo picker someday. And then I decided I was going to start lead singing with this friend of mine named Ira and we were going to start a duo. We were still in school, but we wanted to be full-time musicians and he wanted me to be the lead singer. So I started learning the guitar because I didn't figure it would be a good idea for me to sing and play banjo, just wouldn't feel right. So I learned guitar and got singing.
"We worked together for a few years while we were still in school and then he moved to Oklahoma. He wasn't quite as serious about the business as I was and so I got together these guys and I and sort of came up with something.”
Vaadeland went on to comment about his experiences in school and how he felt like an outcast with his unique style.
"When I graduated school, it didn't go well, actually I left school in Grade 10 because nobody liked how I was doing things and how I was dressing and stuff like that. All the teachers would give me such a hard time because they'd say 'You need to go to university.' Especially since I was spewing stuff, getting ideas into other kids' heads that they didn't need to go to university to have a career. I left because nobody could convince me otherwise, so there was no point.
"Eventually, I finished my schooling online, thanks to my family convincing me to at least do that. Otherwise, I would have dropped out and started on this earlier and here we are today making our living doing it fullt-ime. So that's where it all began.”
The interview delved into Vaadeland's distinctive style, characterized by vintage fashion. He clarified that the brighter and flashier outfits were reserved for performances, while more subdued choices constituted his everyday wear. This style, developed since grade eight or nine, reflects a rebellion against conformity experienced during his teenage years.
“I can't necessarily say that I had always dressed to this extent. Mind you, this is what I call sort of a work suit. I wouldn't wear this on daily occasions. To me, these brighter colours and flashier ones are a little more rebellious which is what I like to wear for shows. But for my everyday suits, I wear them and the same with ties, I like to wear ties every day and vintage sweaters and stuff like that. I wear that around the house, they’re very durable clothes, and it's just my everyday sort of thing and that became my full-fledged normal in about Grade 8 or 9. And I had done it before when I lived on the ranch with my mother and father, but more so the ranch style. It wasn't like ties and suits, stuff like that, we had plaid shirts and maybe pleated pants that we wore with suspenders and all that. I wore that anyway because I looked up to my grandfather quite a bit.
"Of course, things happen, parents got divorced and I moved to Cut Knife which is where I own a home now. I'm very happy about how things have a way of working themselves out in a good way and I’m happy to be there. That's where I got in at the school and of course, with peer pressure, I got into trying to dress the same as everybody else, which didn't work out good for me, it was very uncomfortable, I wasn't confident in those clothes. And so I went right back to do this but even more so than I had before. And like I had mentioned before, they didn't like that at all so I took off.”
As the discussion turned to Vaadeland's iconic greased-back hair, he revealed he uses a specific pomade called Reuzel green, describing it as the "real stuff" with medium hold. He admitted going through a couple of products before finding the one that suited him best.
Concluding the interview, Vaadeland expressed gratitude for the warm reception in Kamsack and invited the audience to visit their website or social media channels for updates on future shows.
“We really enjoyed playing here in town and we really hope everybody left with a smile on their face. That's always what we try to do. And we hope to come again."