With our glorious prairie vistas, winding coulees, stunning sunsets, and howling winds, it’s no surprise that our city has a vibrant country & roots music scene. One longtime fixture of this rural musical landscape is Danny “Skinny” Dyck.
Raised on a poultry farm in Lethbridge County, Skinny Dyck has been entertaining audiences on-stage and off for the last 10 years, with the pedal steel guitar his primary tool of the trade.
A regular co-host of the folk & country “Chin Up Record Club” show on CKXU 88.3 FM, he’s also the frontman for the on-again/off-again roots trio Treeline, a member of Rancho Deluxe, sideman for Carter Felker, and the permanent partner to beloved local songstress Shaela Miller.
But Skinny Dyck’s most recent labour of love has been acting as producer — curating an excellent new audio release.
“I’ve primarily been working as a side guy for the last five-or-so years,” Dyck said. “The original idea was to put something together that I could sell off the bandstand. I asked a bunch of songwriting friends and everyone was happy to do it and we had a lot of fun in the studio.”
The resulting 20 One-Nighters by Skinny Dyck & Friends is a compilation record featuring new original songs from folk and country artists, many of whom reside right here in Lethbridge. It’s a gloriously old-fashioned collection of collaborative “pick-up” band sessions, and a celebration of folk-rock sing-alongs and tender country ditties. As Skinny Dyck describes it, it’s a country album through and through.
“I have an undying affinity for the twang. Whether it’s shake-your-perm honky-tonk or a tear-in-your-beer ballad, I love it all. Country is a genre that I see as a bit of a blank canvas. Stay within the some of the tried and tested musical parameters, but take it as far as you want to make it interesting,” Dyck said. “The artists that creatively deviate from the beaten road, even if just slightly, are the ones that hold my interest.”
The compilation features tracks by 20 unique country artists including Leeroy Stagger & Mariel Buckley, Kent McAllister, Dave McCann, John Wort Hannam, and Carolyn Mark, just to name a few. All of the acts included are friends that Skinny Dyck has collected over the years, and each artist puts their own unique twist on traditional country themes.
There are nine Lethbridge-based artists, a handful from Calgary and southern Alberta, and a few from out of province. “I guess you could say it’s primarily a southern Alberta record,” said Dyck, “with a few adopted Albertans on there too. Though it’s certainly not all-inclusive, as there are many other local and regional artists I would’ve loved to include.”
Bit by the musician bug early in life, Danny “Skinny” Dyck first started playing music in church, then in school band programs, and then in numerous bands over the years.
“I was forever smitten,” Dyck said. Inspired by country greats like Merle Haggard and George Jones as well as more non-traditional troubadours like Fred Eaglesmith and Howe Gelb, the 20 tracks that Dyck has curated on the new collection are proud purveyors of classic country traditions.
“They’re all simple songs with simple stories, backed by rolling rhythms and savvy instrumental prowess,” said Dyck.
The album was produced by Skinny Dyck and his musical mates Jon Martin and Tyler Bird at the Green Recording Company in Lethbridge, before being mastered at Edmonton’s Riverdale Recorders. This was the first time Dyck has produced an album, both logistically and creatively, and he can see himself doing more of it in the future. But it took a lot of coordination to make it happen, he admits.
“We recorded each song in a single night, hence the name 20 One-Nighters. I’d hire local musicians and we’d cram into the single recording room and hammer the song out,” said Dyck. “There were virtually no overdubs and most of the vocals were recorded live too, so the record has a very live feel to it.”
Though the album can be listened to online already via Skinny Dyck’s bandcamp page, the official album release date is November 7. An album release party will be taking place on November 10 at the Geomatic Attic, and many artists from the album will be performing their tracks live. Also performing that night will be the man himself with his newest project, Skinny Dyck & The Chicken Catchers.
If you are a fan of country, roots, or folk music, check out the compilation today. It is a delightful showcase of some great Alberta musicians, and the sheer variety of musicians involved makes it a real treat.
“As the project was coming to fruition, I realized that it was a bit of a snapshot of the regional folk/country scene,” Dyck said. “The Lethbridge scene is robust, especially considering the size of this city. I hope to see it continue to grow. Folks around the province and country are definitely starting to notice.”
Lethbridge should be proud.