Tuned In: The Guess Who

The Guess Who

Drummer Garry Peterson Exposes His Passion for Music and Familiarity with WNY

The Summer Music Festival in Ellicottville, NY will be upon us before we know it - a prime time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the holiday weekend.  This year’s event once again brings a trio of performers, with the headlining act The Guess Who hitting the stage Sunday evening, July 1.   So who are these fellas from north of the border?

The Guess Who essentially are Canada's first rock music superstars, touring globally since the early ‘60s. With 13 albums, and nearly 20 members in their history, to say they've seen and done it all is putting it lightly.  I was able to catch up with original member and drummer Garry Peterson from his home in North Carolina to get a few words in:

First thing’s first, Ellicottville, NY … ever heard of it?

Absolutely! We've been through many times, and have actually played at a few casinos in the area through the years. As a matter of fact, my drumsticks are made in the Buffalo area!

Well, since you've heard of EVL, I’ve gotta ask, skier? snowboarder?

Snowboarder?! (chuckles) no, no, but skier yes!  I actually used to be quite the avid skier when I was younger. You see we're from Manitoba, so I spent many years skiing throughout the Canadian Rockies.  As a matter of fact I'm looking at a picture of me slalom racing at Jasper right now; some of my favorite resorts are Banff, Whistler, Lake Louise.  I stopped though when I realized the harm I could do to my legs and arms as a drummer should I fall skiing. Not good for business!

Having toured globally, what's it like playing a relatively small event like this?

It's really no different. You see, we pride ourselves on building a relationship with each and every audience.  It's our job as musicians and entertainers to bring the audience to our level during our 100 minutes with them, and allow them to escape everyday life and get inside the music with us.  That's one of the best parts of being a musician, providing people with that.

How have you guys been able to keep it going nearly 50 years with so many members coming and going from the band?

Well yes you're right, it hasn't always been easy, having 15 guys over the years leave the group. It really boils down to one thing: it's about the music.  Some guys think they're bigger than the music, when in reality the music is bigger than you.  A lot of guys and bands don't get that.

Back to those Buffalo made drumsticks. We have a lot of drum enthusiasts in town. What kind of kit are you running?

Great question!  Glad you asked. I actually use DW (Drum Works) drums, Sabian cymbals, and those Buffalo drumsticks are actually made in Niagara Falls; they're Calato Regal Tips.

You've sold a lot of records, albums, etc. over the years. What do you think of the current state of music with iTunes, etc.?

I love it!  iTunes are the new needle in the arm, injecting music into enthusiasts of all ages. It helps us reach people everywhere.  Speaking of iTunes we have a new song up. It's a cover of a Little Richard song called 'Lucille', You should check it out!

My half hour on the phone with Garry was great - casual, easy conversation with a guy who clearly just wants the world to revolve around music.  It was refreshing to hear that someone with his experience still has a burning passion for what he accomplishes daily.  A typical audience for The Guess Who will often contain fans from 16 to 60 years old.  I can now see why.  

The Guess Who will take the stage Sunday, July 1 on the slopes of Holiday Valley. It will certainly be something “These Eyes” won't be missing.

For information on obtaining tickets for the Ellicottville performance, go to www.EllicottvilleNY.com/summer-music-festival/.

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