Unique Album Release Concert Series

Unique Album Release Concert Series

Jeffery Straker Set to Perform at 7 Saskatchewan Grain Elevators

by Jeffery Straker

May 24, 2024 in Artist News

Folk Singer-Songwriter Jeffery Straker Celebrates the Release of New Album ‘Great Big Sky’ with Unique Performances at Saskatchewan Grain Elevators

by Alan Hustak with contributions from J. Straker

Jeffery Straker’s first job as a kid growing up in the small Saskatchewan town of Punnichy was cleaning out the boot of the Pool grain elevator with a five-gallon bucket. “That’s when I developed an intimate relationship with grain elevators,” he says with his wide trademark grin, “With the mice and the dust and everything.”

The elevator where he worked was the last of four in Punnichy to be torn down several years ago. Its disappearance was part of the inspiration for the prairie troubadour’s latest album, Great Big Sky, that he’s releasing June 7th.

One by one the prairie skyscrapers are disappearing like the dinosaurs. Once there were over 3,000 cribbed grain elevators across Saskatchewan, so tall they stood like exclamation points against the horizon. Now there are only about 180 still standing. Straker has always been bound to the prairies, he’s found infinite inspiration for his music in its landscape and its people. The death of both of his parents in the past 5 years has made him more reflective about his roots.

One of the tunes he has written for the latest album pays homage to the vanishing prairie beacons.  “It was so much more than 2X4’s and timber, the last grain elevator was coming down today,” he sings, “Under their breath people said good-bye, they tried their best to take it all in stride, they just got used to people doing it that way. For years that Prairie skyscraper stood guard at the end of main street, farmer’s measuring luck by the bushel, hauled trucks of what they’d reap.”

Most are being demolished because they have been replaced by concrete grain terminals and have become weathered tinder boxes or simply because some people consider them an eyesore.

“Elevators have a lot of meaning to prairie folks, but it’s not something they really talk about unless you ask,” says Straker. “They were the first big, tall things on the prairies to proclaim ‘there’s a community here’. Now we’re watching them come down as our small towns shrivel. Elevators were always part of the furniture. They were part of the topography, they helped to define the geography and the look of the prairies.” 

Great Big Sky will be launched in June with a number of concerts in several Saskatchewan communities that still have grain elevators. The “Prairie Skyscraper Concert Series” was Straker’s idea.  He has just completed a tour of Western Canada performing “proper theatre concerts”, and wanted to do something “in a totally different way.  Instead of being inside a theatre, I’ll take the show outdoors, with the backdrop of a big old elevator,” he says.  “And a few of these shows will be staged right inside elevators on the old scale”.  The series includes:

June 15 Elbow SK

June 19 The Museum of Wheat, Hepburn

June 20 Southey (a 2nd show has been added June 27)

July 4 Riverhurst

July 5 Take a train excursion with him on the Southern Prairie Railway from Ogema to Horizon where he performs in the old Horizon elevator

July 6 Gravelbourg

July 7 The Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village south of Moose Jaw

 

Concert info & tickets: https://mailchi.mp/jeffstraker/prairie-skyscraper-concert-series

Jeffery thanks Creative Saskatchewan for the financial support in completing his new recording.

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