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Tribute to Ian Tyson comes to the Empress

The Ian Tyson tribute ‘The Gift’ comes to the Empres Theatre on Feb. 6.

It’ll be a night of cowboy country music at the Empress on Thursday, Feb. 6 as Ian Tyson’s former band mates pay tribute to the Alberta country music legend.

Ian Tyson has penned such memorable songs as Four Strong Winds and Someday Soon among many other classics.

The Gift: A Tribute to Ian Tyson, which is named for the 1986 Tyson song The Gift, revisits Tyson’s entire career, from the days of iconic duo Ian and Sylvia to his more recent solo recordings.

Members of Tyson’s former band, led by Stewart MacDougall, an Edmonton singer-songwriter who has written, toured and recorded with Tyson, along with Thom Moon (percussion), Myran Szott (fiddle, vocals) and Gord Matthews (guitar, vocals) will be joined by Julian Kerr (bass, vocals), Ian Oscar (acoustic guitar, vocals), Tracy Millar (guitar, vocals) and John Wort Hannam (guitar, vocals).

The Gift started nearly two decades ago when a number of Tyson’s one-time sidemen, collaborators and musical admirers came together for a solitary weekend paying tribute to the singer-songwriter and his massive songbook.

Since that weekend, which found the troupe selling out two shows in central Alberta, The Gift continues to surface from time to time at festivals, concert halls and cowboy poetry festivals around Alberta and B.C.

The Gift weaves through 50 years of Tyson’s catalogue, finding room for songs going back to the days of Ian and Sylvia and The Great Speckled Bird, through Tyson’s honky-tonk years and, of course, a large slice of the cowboy culture music that’s heard on albums from Old Corrals and Sagebrush to Cowboyography.

It also covers classic Tyson releases like 18 Inches of Rain, I Outgrew the Saddle and Songs from the Gravel Road.

The Gift has been called “a brilliant troupe of musicians who get to the heart and soul of Ian’s work” by one-time Big Valley Jamboree producer Larry Werner.

CKUA’s Wide Cut Country host, Allison Brock, calls The Gift “a special evening that is a must for all Tyson fans.”

Tyson has praised the show and did the same for the 2007 companion album that featured members of this cast as well as guests such as Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Jennifer Warnes, Chris Hillman, Corb Lund and Blue Rodeo.

If you are a fan of the music and career of Ian Tyson, The Gift is a beautiful offering to those who understand what a force Tyson has been in country, folk and roots music for well over half a century.

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