Langley man’s back stage efforts lauded

While Langleyites appear to have been shut out of the Canadian Country Music Awards held last weekend in Edmonton, several country music stars from this community are garnering attention at the provincial level.

The BC Country Music Association is preparing for its 37th annual awards show on Oct. 19 at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam, and there are a few familiar Langley names that have made the initial shortlist.

It includes the regular suspects such as Karen Lee Batten, Chad Brownlee, Dallas Smith, and Aaron Pritchett each nominated in a few different categories.

As well, there’s local guitarists Jordan Pritchett and Mitch Merrett on the shortlist, as well as the sister act of Robyn & Ryleigh Gillespie, and Jaydee Bixby.

Linda Corscadden – a long-time Langley resident who recently moved to Kelowna – is also in the running for country music person and humanitarian of the year.

The decisions are made through a three-ballot online voting process.

Stage two of the voting concluded last night (Sept. 10), and Corscadden assured people a list of finalists will be public by Friday – so stay tuned to the Langley Advance website for an update.

In the meantime, the BCCMA has already announced a list of 10 individuals who are being honoured for their longstanding contributions to the B.C. country music industry, and one is Langley’s own Terry Gray.

He is being inducted into the BCCMA Hall of Fame this fall.

Gray is being called a pioneer in the B.C. country music industry for his contributions not only as a director of the association for years, but for the work he did as a stage manager for 12 past BCCMA award ceremonies, as well as his management and stage work at the former Hedley Blast and Merritt Mountain Music Festival.

He won country music person of the year in 2002, but said his 30-plus-year career in stage managing and producing has spanned many genres of music, including blues, rock, and country.

The Willoughby man told the Langley Advance he was a little shocked to hear of his impending recognition, in part because the honour is typically given to musicians, not those working behind the scenes.

“The BC Country Music Association is taking an exciting approach with the presentation of the BCCMA Hall of Fame Show this year, by paying tribute to these 10 dedicated leaders of B.C. Country Music, Nov. 9 at the Clarke Theatre in Mission,” Corscadden explained.

Gray joins fellow inductees Dan Earle, Kenny Hess, Anne Lord, Gerry King, Rick Tippe, Bill Rea, Sue Irving, Les Redekopp, and Jim Howe in receiving this industry honour.

“The contributions of these inductees were, and are, paramount to the ongoing tradition and success in all areas of country music in B.C.,” she added. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring you a show honouring these pioneers.”

“I’ve done a lot of different things and not all with country music,” Gray explained, adding “I grew up in Calgary, so I grew up hating country music.”

Gray started in the entertainment industry while in college.

While he assumed he would go into the construction industry, like the rest of his family, he admittedly was quite innovative and inventive. He loved working with his hands and tinkering with electrical.

His brother was working as a bouncer in a local nightclub. Gray only 20, wasn’t old enough to get in, but desperately wanted to know what all the fuss was about around this psychedelic light show brought in from San Francisco.

The owner invited him to the bar one morning, during set up. Gray took a close look at what he called a cool but simple set up, and immediately headed home to build his own lighting system that he and his buddies could play with.

The club owner learned of Gray’s invention, bought it from him, hired him to create a number of other custom pieces of equipment, and eventually went into partnership with Gray in ownership of several clubs in the Prairies.

That was the beginning, Gray said, noting their clubs hosted some of the biggest names in the music industry through the years. And before long, he found himself running a rehearsal studio and touring with a number of the big name performers.

Eventually, he followed Jerry Doucette to B.C. for a show, and never left again.

While Gray jokes that he’s never actually moved away from Calgary, he landed in the Lower Mainland in the late 1970s and never went home again – still today working on the production end of show with entertainers from his home in Langley.

Never a musician himself, Gray said: “I’ve been a guitar tuner for some of the best guitar players in the world, but never played.”

Tickets available for both

Tickets for the BCCMA awards are on sale at 604-533-5088 for $38/person.

Tickets for the hall of fame night are $20 each, and will be available through the BCCMA website at: www.bccountry.com.

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