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Singer Songwriter soldier Tim Isberg returns home to make music of Southern Alberta history to open Lethbridge Folk Club season

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Singer/songwriter /soldier Tim Isberg is all set to come come to play Lethbridge for the first time to open the Lethbridge Folk Club’s new season, Saturday, Sept. 16 at the Lethbridge College Cave.

 Isberg, who grew up in Fort Macleod and now makes his home in Sherwood Park is  excited to come back to Southern Alberta, especially as he is working on a concept album about Southern Alberta  in the 1870s-90s  to be released next year called “ Prairie Fire.”


 He has never played Lethbridge before.

“ I’m originally from Fort Macleod and went to college in Lethbridge  years ago. I’ve played all over the place and somehow Lethbridge has escaped my wrath. So I’m looking forward to actually showing up in really my home town hood and going to student lounge which didn’t exist in that capacity when I was there and playing a show with the Lethbridge Folk Club,” he said, adding he will be joined by his trio  including guitarist/ mandolinist/ vocalist Marc Ladouceur and bassist Derek Vokins who is replacing  his usual bassist John Hewitt, but is busy with his own projects for this tour.

“I normally play in a trio, sometimes a four piece, but this time it will be the trio of myself and I have a side player who plays guitar and mandolin and some back vocals and also a bass player who also does back vocals so it’s a singer-songwriter show. I’ll be playing mostly tunes off of my last two award nominated albums (‘Running on the Edge’ and ‘Tears along the Road’) And I’m going to give the audience a sneak preview of a couple of new songs that we’re literally just recording this week for a new project that is a history based projects about people and events in the 1800s on the Canadian prairies, specifically a couple songs and about people and events about people in and around Fort Macleod and Lethbridge and Southern Alberta in general,” he said.


Singer Songwriter Soldier Tim Isberg Plays The Lethbridge Folk Club for the first time, Sept. 16. Photo by Ivy Jane Photography

“This project was inspired by another degree program I was on once about western Canadian history. Growing up in Fort Macleod and being a former member of the little musical ride there a long, long time ago and working around the Fort Macleod museum and my grandmother growing up in Brocket and teaching in a one room school house out near  Pincher Creek back in the early 1900s. I grew up with history all around me and it’s always been interesting to me and my ancestry as well,” he said adding he is excited about the potential of  this project.


“It has a huge educational component to it of course . But it is real, songs about real people and real events that happened anywhere between basically the mid 1800s to the late 1800s. Even though that was only 30 not even 40 years, so many things happened between Confederation and let’s say 1899 in terms of  the Trans Continental railway, the Northwest Rebellion, the Cypress Hills Massacre, you know Jerry Potts, the local legend, the immigrants, the settlements, all these things happened within a short period of of time. Even the last great  Indian battle at  Indian Battle Park which commemorates that,  all happened within that time frame. So this album reflects that story,” he said.


“All these songs on the new album are story songs and give a little background  to each of these events.I’m hoping that excites people into  the history that is literally all around them, and they’ll leave the theatre perhaps Googling different things to find out more. And I’ve got the three chapters of the Alberta Historical society involved in this project to some degree  including Lethbridge,” he said adding the project is going smoothly as they almost finished recording the bed tracks of the album, which he plans to release in the Spring.

“We‘re over half way though the bed tracks and we’ ll finish in the next couple days and then we’ll do some add ons and overdubs and flesh it out a little bit over the coming month. And there’s a lot of graphics involved. This is very special project,” he said.

The graphics and artwork produced by an artist based on the people and events based on old photographs will be part of the  promotional package, postcards and CD cover and liner notes as well as in the show itself.

“It has Canadian interest and certainly Western Canadian interest certainly Albertan interest. So I’m taking my time make sure it‘s done right because it is a special project. It has a special sound and story behind it. And a lot of research went into even writing these songs. It’s not like the songs I usually write where I could just take something out of my own experience as a soldier as a 35 year veteran or just whatever comes into my head and just write a song. These are songs about real things and required some research despite one of my degrees being in Western Canadian history. It required some work. So the album will be put together over the coming month or two and then we’ll do some shows with some of the songs just to road test them and promote the album, he said, adding he plans to start tour support right. One of the highlights will be taking the album to the Folk Alliance in Kansas City the following February.

“There’s really potential for this project to become one of two things. First and foremost I can take this a portion of this show, some of the songs and some of the information about local history to the local high schools. When I’m coming through communities and combine that with a show. When I used to tour a Rwanda show based on my experiences in Rwanda, it was called ‘25 years after, songs and stories of the Canadian soldier in Rwanda.’  I’d stop by and visit  the Social Studies classes and have a 45 minute presentation with some music and some imagery and some slides and talk about human rights or being a discerning citizen and peacekeeping and that sort of things. And I’d combine that with a show in the town or the city  later on that evening or the next day. However it fell into place. So for this show, this history project I’m hoping to do the same. Maybe I can make a visit a local high school and talk about  local history and sing a few tunes and do some Q and A over a 45 or 50 minute period and then that evening or what have you, do the actual show in the community,” he said.

Another possibility is to turn the music and images into a theatrical production.

“That would be really exciting, for example come to the Yates Centre and have maybe a Fringe festival feel to it. Maybe it’s just a few actors with some songs or maybe it’s a full production where I can just put a thread through all of these events that took place from the end of the fur trade all the way to western settlement and immigrants coming in the late 1800s and just make that story. I think that would be something that has potential. It at least motivates me to be optimistic about it. Of course the devil’s in the details, who you know and how much money you have to put all those together, but I think it has potential,” he continued noting it will be a concept album.


“It is a concept album which is very rare now nowadays. This is not  a country album. I’m not a country music pop country artist per se . It’s more contemporary folk or roots or alternative country is what I write, it’s the stuff  that comes out of me. We call it Americana. It doesn’t mean it’s American, it’s Americana. Basically stories from the Canadian prairies. So it’s literally Canadian Americana. Canadiana is a literary term mostly and it is Canadiana  in terms of a music genre if you’re looking it up online, it’s Americana is what it would be attached under. It’s a very, very broad genre, everything from Jim Croce to the Eagles, that’s Americana. But it is a concept album. It’s a theme album. Everything is joined together. Every song on this album is related to the concept that I’m singing about . Every song can stand alone of course on it’s own. If you hear the songs and listen to the story, you’ll understand what it’s about but if you listen to the songs together it’s about a place in time, and  a geographical place in time as well, he said adding he hasn’t decided how much of the new music he will be playing.


“ My plan is to do two or three tunes at least and give the audience a taste and then I can talk about it a little bit. I’d like to look at the songs that have direct relation to the Lethbridge region,” he said adding one song he wants to play was inspired by a book about Dr. Robert Nevitt  Nevitt was an artist and the assistant surgeon of the Northwest Mounted Police who arrived in Fort Macleod in 1874 after the march west .

Historian Hugh  Dempsey compiled Nevitt’s letters to his fiancée in Ontario during his first winter in Fort Macleod into a 1974  book called ‘A Winter in Fort Macleod.

“It inspired me to write a song called ‘Letter From Fort Macleod. So I want to do that song for sure and inform the people about how that song really came about and some detail about the assistant surgeon and his fiancée and the fact that he was an artist as well and made paintings. In fact if not for him we wouldn’t have some of the imagery that we have from that time including the signing of Treaty 7 . The pictures and paintings you see from Treaty 7 were actually painted by him,” he said.


 Isberg said to expect plenty of stories and songs.

“ I connect well with the audience. I am a storyteller. Not every song has a big story. I do a lot songs that are just entertainment I play a little mixture of everything from  folk, alternative country, to some blues or blues swing tunes. Even a tune or two that I’ll call bluegrassy. My guitar player Marc will dig out his mandolin and we’ll dig into some tunes with that . Some of them are waltzes,” he said.

“ I spent 35 years as a decorated soldier and veteran and I’ve done eight tours of duty so I do have a few things I can speak to sincerely and genuinely— the good and the bad. And I write and sing to some of those and share some of those stories . And we have some laughs. We have a good sense of humour that goes around on the stage. we can be quite entertaining.  No-one leaves the show early,” he laughed, adding he will have his award nominated albums on stage to sell as well as a national best selling  book “ Everyday Heroes,” a book written by veterans of the  Second World War, Korean War, Afghanistan, peacekeeping missions and missions at home, which he also contributed to. It was edited by his friend Jody Mitic, A Canadian sniper in Afghanistan who lost his legs. Isberg contributed a piece about his adventures in Rwanda, his first mission in 1994. 


 He said his experience as a veteran directly inspires his music.

“Absolutely. It’s been part of my life it’s kind of hard not to have that it to influence my life. It influenced my life so it definitely influences my music, but not in such a negative way or anything like that. It’s a part of me and I’ve accepted that. And again not every song I write has anything to do with that, but when I sing a song or have lyrics or share a story  or share the background to a song I’ve written whether it’s just  about living in Jerusalem, inspired a certain song. Patrolling roads driving roads and walking  roads in Afghanistan inspired a song. But I can talk  to that directly and share my own  personal experience of what it was like to walk a road in Afghanistan with 350 rounds of ammunition and two weapons systems strapped to you and what that felt like. And I can share story that from a sincere perspective and genuine perspective. Where  I can relate that to the audience. In face a lot of my audience . My brand of my music is singer/songwriter soldier and a lot of people are very nice about it that they relate to that in the sense that I share a song it in they will compliment me not just for the song  but to say it reminds them of their father, their brother, their son, their mother who served in in the military in World War Two or were in Afghanistan or someone that lost their son or lost their daughter in places like Afghanistan and they kind of have that connection with me. At first, for the first few years I felt really awkward with that. But in fact I’ve accepted it and I’ve kind of put my arms around it to a degree because I feel if that’s what connecting me to the audience and the audience can share that emotion with me, a complete stranger. Maybe that’s partly why I do what I do and partly why I need to be there and share that moment with the audience and share that private portion of their memory or their life  with me,” he said.


“ It motivates me to go to  the next show. It’s something I’m thankful for. Not to say thank you for sharing . But If that helps them. Because I know for myself when have that Post Traumatic Stress or anxiety issues, sometimes just the littlest thing can be a really positive thing in your day. And If I’m part of a positive thing in your day then that’s great, than I’m happy to do it,” he said.


“I’m originally from Southern Alberta . I’m happy to be back in the hood especially as an alumni of Lethbridge College. It’s going to be really cool to be back there. I don’t expect to see any of my former classmates. But I’m hoping that members of the historical society and friends and fans  and people who have followed my music or listened my music or members of the folk club. They’re in for a really good show and I’m not just saying that because it’s me coming. We’ll  entertain them. We‘re going to give them some very high quality music. The musicians I work with are great. We have a lot of fun together and we show that on stage. We have our serious moments and we have our laughing  moments. And the Lethbridge audience are going to get to hear songs for the first time before anyone else does because we‘re fresh off the studio and we’re going to trial road test some. So I’m kind of excited about that. I’m not nervous about it, but I’m excited about it. And I’m hoping that  the audience will be excited about that too and the new project,” he said.


 Tim Isberg opens the Lethbridge Folk club season Sept. 16 in the Lethbridge College Cave. Henk Van Ginneken will be opening the show at 8 p.m . Tickets are $35.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Saturday, 09 September 2023 14:53 )  
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