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Country stars come to Lac La Biche

You don't have to be a fan of country music to enjoy the Canadian Country Christmas Concert on Dec. 3.

You don't have to be a fan of country music to enjoy the Canadian Country Christmas Concert on Dec. 3. In fact, says the organizer of the event that finds its way to Lac La Biche for the first time in its seven year run, a knowlegde of Hank, Waylon or Reba is secondary to being able to hum along to some great tunes about Santa and Rudolph. "The first half of the show is country music and country classics, the second half is Christmas themed," said Sean Hogan, a veteran of the Canadian country music scene. Along with Hogan, country music talents Samantha King, Jamie Warren, and Duane Steele will be on the Portatge College McGrane Theatre stage. It's a show that Hogan began in 2004 as a way, he says, to give back. "It’s a nice way for the artists that have got some airplay to give back,” he said, explaining that it started with a group of his singing friends coming together for a Christmas song he wrote called It’s Christmas Time. The compilation grew into the planning of the first tour. There’s a handful of entertainers who join the tour each year, working on a rotation for each month-long go-round.

“We’ve got a lot of buddies who come back and do a tour or they might skip an year, but they always come back. It’s such a good time,” said Hogan, a father of three children who was born in Ontario, but now calls Vancouver Island his home.

To date, the shows, which have criss-crossed central and western Canada, have raised more than $100,000 for a variety of charities and societies.

The Lac La Biche show will raise money for the Portage College food bank and the Lac La Biche Waskaysoo food bank. All four music stars on the bill for this year's tour are award-winning performers with radio airplay in Canada and the United States. Combined, the four performers have earned several Canadian country music accolades, including Hogan’s 1996 win of the first-ever CCMA Independent Male Vocalist of the Year award, the same one Steele won in 2001. Warren has been nominated for CCMA and Juno awards, and was the 1985 RPM Big Country Awards New Artist of the Year, while King is a two-time CCMA Chevy Truck Rising Star nominee and a nominee for the 2006 CCMA Female Artist of the Year award.

Hogan joked that the stars could add some more light to the Christmas-themed concert by pulling out all their awards and lining them up on the stage.

“Maybe back-light them, that would be something,” he said with a laugh, adding that the awards would probably be better suited for tour decorations than collecting dust in his rec room.

Despite the caliber of the performers, tickets for the Lac La Biche show are just $20, a reduced rate thanks to a series of local donations and sponsors who have helped bring the show to the community. The Lac La Biche Agricultural Society, lead by newly elected county councillor Aurel Langevin, is responsible for booking the show, which has been fully funded by Portage College with the help of the Ramada Hotel, Big Dog radio and the Lac La Biche Post. “This is a great contribution towards making this a truly community event. To get this number of groups together to cooperate in putting this event on for the good of the whole community is wonderful,” said Langevin. Hogan says the partnerships are what the Christmas tour is all about ... people helping people.

”It’s a pretty cool thing. We keep doing it because it seems to work,” he said.

As well as the local food banks, Hogan said there will also be information available about World Vision's child sponsorship programs in other countries. A local ambassador for World Vision, Hogan said that sponsoring children in Third-World Countries, and even visiting some has been one of the most rewarding things he has ever done. He will have information pamphlets and sign up sheets at the Lac La Biche show. Tickets for the show are going fast and are available at Marczak’s True Value and the Portage College General Store.

Ticket giveaway

For a pair of free tickets, be the first to email the Post at post@llb.greatwest.ca with the answer to this question …. Was the name of Sean Hogan’s 2004 chart-topping single called California Sunrise, Catalina Sunrise or Canmore Sunrise? (It’s also the name of a coffee that Hogan has marketed)