Johnny 'Melanson' Comfort
Often referred to at the heighth of his career as 'the Maritimes' Own Country Gentleman', Johnny Comfort...born John Melanson in Moncton, NB, which is still his home...was one of Canada's most popular touring entertainers.
His first musical influence was his father, from the country bluegrass hotbed of St. Paul, who played piano and guitar and Johnny picked instrumental know how from him, at the same time learning to sing in a school choir. At an early age he was picking guitar; both acoustic and electric, learning to fiddle, play harmonica and a wailing saxophone.
Leaving school in grade 8, he became a mechanic, drove race cars and cabs. And, after a brief flirtation with rock music, he became a solid country vocalist and started sitting in with bands.
Soon he formed a band of his own, called Southern Comfort and they began 'packing them in at McSweeney's Pub, eventually becoming the house band at Keddy's Brunswick Hotel, as well, in their main floor lounge for nearly eight years.
Recognizing his unique talent Keddy's manager arranged the financial backing for Johnny and the band to go to Nashville and record an album which he released in 1981. Airplay received by selections from it drew the the attention of Snocan executives and a single Still That Something In Her Eye rose to #4 on the Cancountry singles charts. Another, A Scene From an Old Time Texas Movie proved a block buster. Others followed The Lovin's On Me reached #4 in 1985, I'm Getting Over You #5 in 1986 as did This Could Be Serious, a #5 hit as well. He released another album Hank Was The King and toured the UK, Europe, the US and Canada.
During his active years Johnny shared stages with many US and Canadian icons including Charley Pride, Mel Tillis, Ian Tyson, The Family Brown and many others.
In the 1990's the road called again and he became a long distance trucker, a vocation he had worked at briefly in his youth. But recently he has been back in studios recording and has several songs including three duets with Shirley Myers set for inclusion on a new CD.
Rejean Joseph 'Reg' Gallant
Born in Rexton, NB in 1965, Reg Gallant's interest in music began literally in infancy. His family, because of financial difficulties made their own homespun evening and weekend musical entertainment. Since his father played guitar, mandolin and harmonica, these were usually get-togethers with other musicians at house parties, usually theirs. Reg and his brother Claude would listen, learn songs and sing them acapella...at first! By tinkering with instruments, and with pointers from his father and the family's musician friends Reg learned to play guitar and mandolin. He later mastered 5-string banjo, fiddle and bass, also. In more recent years he has added piano, hammered dulcimer, harmonica, dobro and steel guitar to the list of instruments he has learned to play by 'tinkering'.
His introduction to show biz came early with appearances on Supper Club and Time For Juniors, and he entered and won many contests. Moving to Fredericton he made the acquaintance of Aubrey Hanson who encouraged him to make music his career. As a teenager Reg played in local rock bands but switched to country, joining an Oromocto band The Twilights, then a rival band Time Zone, to become their lead vocalist. Shortly after that he and his brother Claude formed their own band Lost Souls, which eventually changed its name to BlackJack (a band in which Claude still performs) but after 20 years Reg left because of day job priorities.
Moving to Saint John he became a member of Antique Ernie & The Hardwood Ramblers and the Saint John Old Time Fiddlers and, in time, music director of Rick's Country Music Jamborees at the port city's Imperial Theatre.
Reg is also an accomplished singer and a songwriter who has penned over 60 songs and released four CD albums of songs and instrumentals. One of these At The Drop Of A Hat received world wide radio airplay and charted in Top Tens internationally. A copy of it is in the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa.
A half decade ago Reg began organizing his own Reg's Port City Jamborees and guesting on concerts and fund raisers. His many contributions to the community through his music have kept him in demand and he promotes country music whenever an opportunity arises.
Al Dupuis was born in Chipman, NB in 1952, the eldest son of Leona and Arthur Dupuis. He grew up in the highly charged musical environment of Minto, greatly influenced by his father, an excellent fiddler. By nine he was chording for his father on guitar.
At 13 he wrote his first song....by then Al was playing harmonica and drums, too...and in the 44 years since has written a thousand more, a number of them quite successful as recordings. He has been described by fans throughout the Martimes and beyond as the definitive solo entertainer, a complete one man show.
Al has performed with numerous bands, starting in his teens, but has always derived more pleasure from working as a solo act. And, although he contributed financially to his younger siblings' upbringing, he was able through his music to graduate from high school, attain a university degree and enjoy a teaching career, while continuing until recently to entertain at clubs and other venues.
Although Al played locally around Grand Lake communities from the late 1960's he considers his professional career to be 1977 to 1994. During that time he played the Maritime club scene circuit with swings through Quebec and Ontario, primarily as a solo act. During those years he recorded two albums in Nashville that featured originals he'd penned such as Be With Me, You've Been Special To Me, The Last Fairy Tale, I Love You Loving Me and Do You Think I'm Crazy. In those years he appeared on English language television 44 times, on The Tommy Hunter Show, Wrap Around Nashville and Ryan's Fancy among others. Plus he starred three seasons on the CBC-TV French Network's La Bastrange from 1988 to 1986, and performed for three summers in Pays de la Sagouine at Buctouche.
In 1985 he was invited to participate in a You Can Be A Star show on Nashville TV.
In 1988 he was the NB winner of the Maritime Contemporary Song Writing Contest and placed second in the Brookes Diamond Star Search in 1988 and 1989.
He was the Francophone Music Awards Country Male Vocalist Of The Year in 1990.
However, in 2003 Al and his wife moved to Digby, NS, when he was offered a better teaching position.
Stan Taylor a celebrated star of national TV and radio was born in Truro, NS, in 1934. Later his family moved to Yarmouth County. He is a self-taught musician who plays guitar, fiddle, bass and mandolin among other instruments. In 1946, at age 12, he played his first dance at a small log cabin in Brenton, NS. In 1948 Stan moved to Kitchener, Ontario to play on radio CKCR and over CJOY in Guelph as well as other stations in the area.
He joined the army in 1952, taking a three year leave from music, but back in civilian life in 1955 resumed his radio career over stations in Ontario, Vermont and New York states, appearing on many early pioneer TV shows in the same areas. He moved to Stanstead, Quebec, a year later and appeared regularly on radio and TV in St. Albans and Newport, Vermont, just across the border and in Platsburg, New York. In the fall of 1956 Stan joined Smiley Willette's band which operated out of Platsburg and added Minnesota venues to his itinerary.
He moved back to Kitchener, Ontario, in the fall of 1957, married and resumed his music career there, playing mainly clubs, shows and dances.
In 1963 he formed a band, the Rhythm Masters and moved them to Toronto where they became the house band for the Edison Hotel, corner of Yonge & Gold Streets, for four years. They left there in 1967 to become the mainstay of the CKWX Barn Dance in Wingham Ontario.
By 1969 he was working with a trio playing air bases in NB and NS and later, invited, joined the cast of CBC-TV's Countrytime with Myrna Lorrie, Vic Mullin and Don Tremaine for two years. Then it was back to the trio on a coast to coast circuit, working with over 120 different artists from Nashville, California, Florida and Wheeling West Virginia, while releasing four albums. Those artists included Tex Ritter, Lefty Frizzel, Hank Snow, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Mel Tillis, Ray Price, Bill Monroe, Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins, Dick Curless, Faron Young and many others.
In 1988 Stan settled in Chatham, NB, with his wife and their...collectively... ten children and has confined his music almost entirely to the Miramichi area ever since.
Hughie Harris Yorke
Hughie was only 49 at his death in March 2002 but he left an indelible mark on the Fredericton music scene. Born in Parrsboro, NS on March 30, 1953, he exhibited unusual music and singing talents as a child and while still in high school formed a band Rumour Has It to play teen venues and high school dances. A few years later he founded the country club band Saddletramp which played a circuit of Maritime venues for several years and recorded. He also joined friends, Bob Murphy (of Big Buffalo), Johnny Gold and Matt Minglewood to play special events.
In the early 80's Hughie moved to Fredericton to join Gerry McCarty & Smokin' Gun, and then Bub's Brown's Thirsty Rangers. He, also, became captain and chief entertainer aboard the Pioneer Princess, the St. John River Boat that delighted tourists by skirting that great river's famed scenic shores.
When the Princess dropped anchor its last time Hughie became a popular award winning car salesman by day, first at Wood Motors Ford and later Sutherland Mazda. By night, however, he was still an entertainer making music magic whenever and wherever he could. At the time of his death he was still playing in the Thirsty Rangers and with his friend Gerry McCarty.
A songwriter as well as a singing guitar picker, Hughie recorded his Ain't Drinkin' Whiskey at Scorpio/Nova and other original songs at Outreach Studios. Those included These Old Eyes which received a lot of radio air play in the Maritimes. His greatest thrill, however, he always said, was a gig fronting Nashville's stuttering star Mel Tillis!
As well as his band work Hughie was a regular on NB Country Showcase and at Country Junction. His rock solid personality and laid-back humour charmed audiences and customers alike, his talents as a singer and musician earned him the respect of a multitude of fans.
Hughie's other great love...apart from his daughter, Laura....was racing. Forbidden to drive race cars because of a heart condition, he became the voice of the NB International Speedway, doing colour commentary, interviews and hosting a popular NBIS radio program That's Racing.
His last concert was at Country Junction just ten days before his death. was only 49 at his death in March 2002 but he left an indelible mark on the Fredericton music scene.