From Denmark to Australia, Summerland to Kamloops, Valdy performs some 200 concerts a year.
And for the last 12 years he and frequent musical collaborator Gary Fjellgaard have toured as The Contenders in support of George Ryga Week in November.
The duo returns to Kamloops Nov. 10 for a show at the Sagebrush Theatre. The concert begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are available at Kamloops Live! Box Office.
Being on the road so much, and doing the annual Contenders tour, one might think Valdy would get burned out or lose his musical edge.
Not so, he told The Daily News during a recent phone interview. And for one simple reason.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s great fun.”
The key is to keep adding new material to the repertoire, said Valdy. He’s released five albums during the last 12 years, including Read Between the Lines, which came out earlier this year.
Valdy said his latest album is “weird but good,” mixing a variety of musical styles that touch on folk, rock and roll and everything in between.
“Genre wise it’s all over the map,” he said. “I look at it as the broad musical brush that incorporates all sorts of musical elements.”
But the music is folk at heart, and many songs tell a story. One is about Ginger Goodwin, a labour activist on Vancouver Island who was shot by private security and killed at the turn of the last century.
Another, A Ragged Band of Angels, is about the ne’er-do-wells up in heaven who keep an eye out for us all, said Valdy.
“There’s also a song called VLT about a buddy of mine who pulled the plug on a gambling machine because it disturbed he and his family’s lunch,” he said. “And the repercussions there of.”
While recording and touring with his own show, Valdy is backed up by jazz and rock rhythm sections. Not so when he’s one of the Contenders, who play without backup. But he and Fjellgaard try to capture the rhythm sounds with their guitars.
George Ryga Week was officially proclaimed more than a decade ago by the B.C. lieutenant governor in honour of the late novelist and playwright.
As a writer, Ryga blazed a path for socially relevant literature in Canada, starting in the 1960s. His Summerland home is an arts and culture centre.
Ryga’s sensibilities are in line with Valdy’s, who often sings songs about activism alongside his tales of love and battles won and lost.
“He deserves the support. He’s the herald bearer of social activism and there aren’t a lot of people speaking out, or certainly who are getting funding by speaking out, and furthering that as a cultural component,” he said.
Young people today understand the spirit of revolt or dissention, but often don’t have the tools to pursue it, said Valdy. The annual tour provides funding to keep the George Ryga Centre open and continue the writer and activist’s work.
Last year, after 40 years in the music business, Valdy was appointed to the Order of Canada. He said the recognition is a huge honour. Valdy received his insignia at a ceremony in Ottawa in May.