Duane Stewart / Abe Zacharias

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Back Porch Songs

Duane Stewart

As a kid in Edmonton, I used to listen to Canada’s Cowboy Troubadour, Stu Davis, on the radio. It was pure cowboy music and sometimes the guest singer would be Stu’s son, Duane. Davis enjoyed a successful career and I often wondered what happened to Duane. I recently found out when my brother Jim and I shared a stage with the Sons of the Sage?—?and Duane was the lead singer and guitar player.

Duane had left the stage, and after 27 years as a high school and university English teacher, his relocation from Alberta to the Shuswap inspired him to start singing again.

He gave me a copy of his CD at the Stony Plain Gathering and it is a gem! Duane’s voice is as smooth and pure as a mountain stream. His guitar playing is superb.

The 12 carefully chosen songs are delivered with Duane’s voice sometimes harmonizing in a second track accompanied only by his guitar, and nothing more is needed. Every cut is great and my favourites are Early Snow and The Dude in the Ten Gallon Hat, a song made popular by his Dad. There’s a great example of his finger-picking style on a masterpiece he calls Finger Snappin.

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I Still Wanna Be a Cowboy

Abe Zacharias

It’s a challenge to come up with two or three songs that qualify for the CRTC’s Canadian Content criteria in each Spirit of the West radio show. I won’t play a track just because it’s Canadian. It’s gotta be high quality and measure up to standards I have for sound quality, production values, musicianship and

lyrical content. This one has several tracks that make the cut.

Two of the tracks feature the words of the fine poet Mag Mawhinney that Abe has set to music.

Grandpa’s Spurs was the first track I played on the show. The line, “I can still see Grampa grinnin’ when I got those rowels a-spinnin'” is a real grabber. Mag’s poem, A Cowboy’s Romance really comes to life with the old-time waltz tempo and easy melody Abe lends to it.

Nicely produced at Dan Sczebel’s Kamloops studio, it includes guitar, bass, mandolin and drums all played by Dan, with Abe doing rhythm guitar and harmony vocals. You get 12 quality tracks here with a few classics written by Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins and Gene Autry along with the originals. I should give honourable mention to track number 4; The Spirit of the West?—?now that’s a good song title!

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