YORKTON - If you go out to hear live music in Yorkton, it’s highly likely you have heard The Reflections.
The duo of Ray Sedley (guitar and vocals) and Norm Sharp (vocal harmony and keyboard) have played together in the current incarnation of their musical endeavours for near a decade now, but their connection goes back years longer, and they have been musicians for longer still.
Sedley, 73, began in his youth in London, Ont. starting out in a folk trio when he was about 15.
Encouraged by a teacher (Mr. Knickerbocker), they began practising in a classroom.
“We started out playing (Bob) Dylan, Donovan and Gordon Lightfoot,” explained Sedley during a recent interview at his kitchen table.
They sounded good enough the teacher entered them in the novice division of a competition at a major local folk festival.
“We stepped out on stage and there were 1000, 1,500 folk aficionados,” said Sedley, adding the trio was scared to death, but managed to get through their three songs, and winning second place.
“And we were the only group in novice class to get a booking,” he said, adding they were hired to play for the kids of members at a country club, which wasn’t a huge success because folk was not what kids were dancing to back then.
While folk wouldn’t hold Sedley’s interest too long either, music did.
And when he moved to Yorkton in 1976 he packed his guitar and love of music and brought those with him.
As the old saying goes, birds of a feather do tend to flock together, and so it is with musicians, and Sedley and Sharp, who grew up in the Willowbrook area, would soon cross paths.
“We had different bands,” recalled Sedley, adding eventually they ended up on a common roster, playing together for seven or eight years in the 1990s, as the Lonestar Boys and later as Chevy & the Twisters.
Of course back then there was a vibrant live music culture in the city with bands regularly playing gigs at venues such as Ragadas, Yorkton Hotel, Corona Hotel, and Holiday Inn.
In fact, Sedley noted he has played at the City Limit Inn for five decades.
Live music was once the entertainment choice for many, with hotels in small towns hosting bands, said Sedley, adding at one time a lounge could only offer music if it was live.
Then that changed, DJs became more popular as a lower cost option, then liquor laws became more stringent, and live music declined massively, he added.
When Sharp retired it was only a matter of time, and very little of it, before the phone rang. It was Sedley who had been performing solo suggesting they hook up as a duo.
Sharp, 70, recalled being quick to say yes, and the duo has been as busy as they’ve generally wanted to be since.
They regularly play for residents at the Yorkton Nursing Home, and at venues such as Rhythm n Ribs, the Sidewalk Concerts held by the Yorkton Arts Council through COVID times, at the mini golf at Good Spirit and YBID events.
While noting they tend to play for a more mature audience, they also said they play what they want too.
“We get to choose our music . . . We’re all over the board, from the ‘40s to 2015-16,” said Sedley.
“We like lots of different genres,” added Sharp. “We both love the music of songwriters (who sing their own material). We pick up a lot of songs by songwriters.”
In fact, they even have Adele’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’.
Occasionally they do get requests they would rather avoid.
Sharp recalled a request for an Alabama song, admitting they weren’t fans of the country band. So they announced they would be doing ‘Magnolia’ a cut off an upcoming Alabama recording. The song, which was actually a Sedley original, drew lots of applause.
Not surprisingly they also gravitate toward music performed by duos’; Simon and Garfunkel, the Everly Brothers, and Chad & Jeremy.
The tandem say they probably know a couple of hundred songs they could play in a pinch.
“We ‘ve trimmed down a bunch,” said Sedley adding it had gotten to the point their set book was so thick “we were having trouble closing it on stage.”
So do they have favourite songs?
Both struggled for an answer.
“I like Crazy,” Sedley finally answered.
“That’s one of my favourites,” echoed Sharp immediately.
Sedley then mentioned Bob Wills’ Faded Love, a name many might not recognize but a hit in its day (1950), and later covered by the likes of Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson.
“Most of our stuff were million sellers at some point,” said Sharp.
So how do you tackle hits through the decades, that many listeners can sing along too?
“We don’t try to copy. They seem to like us,” said Sharp.
Sedley added they are at that point they perform without fear, simply doing their thing and knowing from experience many will appreciate it.
Anyone wanting to book The Reflections can call 621-2479.