Way back in the day when Ed Sullivan, then arguably the king of variety show television, announced, “We have a really big show tonight”, he meant it and it was huge.
Sullivan won’t be around Oct. 6 to set up the annual Voices of the Prairie concert, but like the hundreds of timeless performances he did set up, Johnny Dietrich with friends and family will deliver ‘a really big show’.
“Voices of the Prairie is a show I have been doing for 12 years,” Dietrich explains. “It is a variety show featuring different people, genres of music and is always a benefit performance.”
The family-oriented performance always sees Dietrich and guests — this year it is co-hosted by the Sharpe Sisters with a special appearance by Hicktown — a top 40 country band in high demand locally and in Manitoba.
“All of us love to entertain and we leave people with a good feeling following Voices of the Prairie,” Dietrich said. “That’s what keeps people coming back year-after-year. We are not just blasting out song after song. We like to meet our audience by talking and sharing ourselves with them. We want people to have a good time.”
Voices stands on its own merit. All of the musicians are local favourites and yet there will still be some surprises.
Dietrich is working on a new release as is the Sharpe Sisters. While there is no release date, Voices of the Prairie patrons will hear new material from each.
Dietrich has been testing “The Sun Don’t Shine Wherever I Go” on unsuspecting audiences.
“That will be my next single. That will be the first time we will play that with a band.”
The Sharpe Sisters are mixing up their performance with favourites and have three new songs on the Voices of The Prairie set list.
Voices has grown. There is a committee that almost begins to work towards next year as the lights are dimming this year. Professionals are hired to build the stage and backdrop, lighting and sound.
Fun fact: longtime musical collaborator and bassist Ken Wettlaufer will only be able to leave the stage during intermission. Wettlaufer is becoming known as Portage la Prairie’s bass player. He is a member of Dietrich’s band, a full-time member of Hicktown and will back up the Sharpe Sisters during Voices.
Tickets for the Saturday, Oct. 6 Voices of the Prairie concert at the Canad Inns are $22. They are available at the Canad Inns front desk, 204-857-9745 (press 0 to order your tickets), firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
All proceeds will be donated to the PDGH Foundation to help pay for the new helicopter landing area.
Johnny Dietrich in cooperation with The Portage Citizen ran a contest to win two tickets to the 2018 Voices of the Prairie concert.
“We received a substantial amount of interest in the contest,” says The Portage Citizen Publisher Mickey Dumont. “I am happy to announce we selected Cecilia MacAulay’s name in a random draw. Congratulations and enjoy the show.”