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That wasn’t George Jones singing: that was Kelly

Joyce Walter reflects on the music of Kelly Bourdages.
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

With men’s curling on television and the sun shining outside, it was a perfect Sunday morning to put us in high spirits.

But the brightness of the day just got better when we tuned in to on the computer and spent close to an hour listening to a long-time friend, Kelly Bourdages, with his tributes to old-time, classic country music artists.

Listeners unfamiliar with Kelly’s talent might be forgiven for thinking George Jones was singing right there in their kitchen when in fact it was Kelly singing George, Kelly singing from the heart, on his medley album.

The MBC show is called Rodeo Red’s Country Dancehall, with host Brian Sklar of Regina. Sklar, a well-known Saskatchewan entertainer, has frequently  joined Kelly on stage and therefore he was familiar with the talent that was home-grown right here in Moose Jaw. 

Bourdages now lives in Edmonton and has a full schedule of musical travels throughout the Western provinces.

In the promotional audio for the show, Sklar had this to say: “Tune in to the Kelly Bourdages’ experience, a full hour of music by a Moose Jaw-born entertainer, singer, guitarist who didn’t need a book to learn about George Jones, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Buck Owens . . . he lived it . . . and he performed many of those great songs when they were originally released.

“This special show features cuts from Kelly’s medley album . . . the only place you will be able to access these classic tunes on radio . . . and I offer my personal guarantee that you won’t hear anything like it anywhere else on the dial,” Sklar said.

He was absolutely correct. Songs like He Stopped Loving Her Today, The Race is On, Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes to Silver Wings right through to Truck Drivin’ Man to Folsom Prison Blues and Big River and about 20 more vintage songs in between were highlighted in the program. And as Brian Sklar had said: we could understand all the words.

It is my understanding that Kelly’s phone rang constantly with good wishes and praise from friends, family and lovers of classic country music who listened to the radio program.

Even after the show concluded, I found myself humming some of the music and “ad libbing” the lyrics. Then I searched through our CD collection and found what I was looking for: Kelly’s first CD, No Cover Charge, with his band Trick Ryder. The cover photo featured the old Capitol Theatre marquee drawing attention to the CD that was produced in 2000.

The radio program got me pondering: isn’t it time for another concert with Kelly Bourdages and Trick Ryder on the stage of the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre? Or back at Peacock Collegiate? It could be called, Kelly Sings George and Merle and Buck and Johnny.

We would join many other appreciative fans in the audience. The after-concert party would be a night to remember!

Meanwhile Kelly's program can be heard in the archives section at .  Sklar’s weekly show, Rodeo Red’s Country Dancehall airs Sundays at 11 a.m.

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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