Beaumont SwingI said in my last post that the reasons for my speedy return to Alberta at the request of École Secondaire Beaumont Composite High School principal John Mair would become clear in this entry. I spoke to soon. See, back in February when John and I started talking about this project, John mentioned that he was anxious to have me back this academic year because one of his more musical teachers – a longtime circuit musician and cowboy singer named Bill Wesson (pictured) – was retiring at the end of the year and John wanted to make sure Bill had a chance to play Voyageur before he left. When I got to ESBCHS today, John informed me that, in fact, Bill was staying on another year but he had decided to make this his last year as principal! It was a large and attentive group that gathered in the gym and three players were lined up to cover the "performance pocket" part of the presentation: Bill, another teacher named Marc Harun (who also plays in a band with Bill called the Ranger Creek Wranglers) and student Nick Reich (whose mother is another ESBCHS teacher). They all got a great response from the assembly but it was clear when Bill came up to the mic that he had a serious fan base at the school. Bill lists his influences as people like Neil Young, Bob Dylan and The Byrds but his first tune had a distinct echo of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys – hence the "Beaumont Swing". Thanks to John, Brad, Chris, Bill, Marc, Nick, Kaley and all the rest of the staff and students at ESBCHS for a great end to Day 1 of our 3-day run in the Black Gold school district.
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