The PatMacs

The Story

In a dark basement, with rear entrance, in Edmonton on the south side of 82nd Ave was a folk club known as the Yard Bird Suite. Some time in the late fifties it was opened and run by the Folk Music Society of Edmonton. The Society and the coffeehouse connected with it was managed by a folk singer/English teacher called Vern Ray. The club was open on Fridays and Saturdays and featured many international folk singing stars as well as introducing much local talent. The Society also staged many Hootenannies.

Carl Peterson, not long over from Scotland, stumbled across this club when he first came to Edmonton in early 1964. It was there that he met Pat Hughes a Dubliner who had moved to England in his youth, married there then emigrated to Canada. Pat was already a seasoned performer when he met Carl, while Carl had only performed with a local folk group in Fort William Ontario for a few months before moving out to Edmonton.

The group Carl left behind was the Park Lane Trio consisted of himself and Dawn and Louis Riley, a brother and sister. They had some success around Fort William and Port Arthur playing locally for churches, weddings and other such local events. They also received some exposure for a song they had written for The Thunder Bay Wnter Carnival, an event which took place every 10 years. There was a beard growing contest featured as part of the carnival and the Trio wrote a song called "Coffee In Your Beard" which was recorded by the local radio station and played several times a day before and during the festival days.

When Carl moved to Edmonton he had no experience as a solo performer and ended up playing guitar for a number of the female singers who performance at the Yard Bird Suite and various other local folk productions. One of the singers was a girl called Donna Warner and it was during one of her performances at the Yard Bird Suite that a member of the audience requested that her guitarist sing a song. With some coaxing Carl did one number. On the strength of that Vern Ray asked Carl if he would like to perform an entire evening on his own at some future date. With some reservations Carl agreed and although the evening was a great success Carl still felt more comfortable playing guitar for other performers or being in a group.

Having met Pat several times, Pat eventually introduced Carl to another female performer by the name of Marilyn Enberg, a lass of Swedish extraction and a former cheerleader for Edmonton's football team, the Oilers. Carl was not only playing backup guitar for her but soon eventually ended up singing with her as a duo. One thing led to another and soon Pat was also singing with them. Pat came out with the name Patmacs for the group. Pat for Ireland and Mac for Scotland. This trio performed successfully for a time around Edmonton. Their performances included TV appearances on a local TV station. Marilyn was eventually replaced by another female singer, Irene Ball and this trio was expanded to a quartet by acting Brian Forrester an acquaintance of Carl's from Fort William. Eventually Brian left and was replaced by a standup bass player, Ken Linbeck, an Edmontonian with Norwegian roots.

The folk music scene was very strong during that time period and the group had little trouble staying busy. Apart from the Yard Bird Suite another popular venue was a spot called Giuseppe's Pizza House. Between the two clubs and another out of Calgary, further south, such names as Hans Stamer, Shauna Dorskin, Vern Ray, Joni Anderson (later to be known as Joni Mitchell), The Irish Rovers and many others emerged to make names for themselves.

More coming soon...

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