Black Canyon – Quebec Country Music; American Style

According to Black Canyon’s bass player; the band would be much more popular if they lived in any other province than Quebec.

“This is the hardest place to make a living playing country music.” Says forty-one year old Sylvain.” The market that exists pressures us to play in French. Our love is American country and it is English. We don’t get as many gigs but we are singing what we love.”

Sylvain is a French Canadian currently residing in Rawdon,Qc. Sylvain has been playing country music since his mid- teens. He lied to join his first band.

“I played keyboards and piano. A band I knew and had heard was looking for a bass player. They knew me and that I loved country music and asked me to join. I did not know how to play bass and I was not nineteen. I lied about two things so I could join a country band.”

Sylvain’s quick study earned him a place and in the time it takes to get your dog back – the Rawdon resident was on his way. A long and winding route which led to his meeting with the members of Black Canyon. All except one.

The drummer Danny, was not born yet.

The man with his foot on the peddle of Canyon’s beat is the son of the lead guitarist; Rick.

” He ( Danny ) started playing with us for fun when he was ten. He ‘officially’ joined when he was twenty. That means he has played with us for fifteen years! Where does the time go …?” Wonders Danny’s Dad.

Lead vocalist and guitar player Ray doesn’t see it that way. Ray doesn’t see too many things … he is legally blind.

” I had glaucoma since I was a five. I’ve had a prosthetic eye since I was eight and my right eye only has five percent vision.” Says Ray between sets. ” I see light and I use a cane to walk about.”

Ray’s lack of vision is atoned for in his voice. A profound tool that takes hold of the crowd from the moment the band walks on stage.

Black Canyon plays all the classic and contemporary country tunes. George Strait is a favorite of Sylvains’, Ray loves Allan Jackson, Rick enjoys Merle Haggard and Danny’s idol is Gavin Garrison of the band Porcupine Tree. Say what?

” I love the way the guy plays! He is my role model along with Mike Portney from Dream Theatre. I love those guys’ styles.”

Dad Ricky is just happy his son loves playing with his band and Danny’s love of rock music growing up – brought no frowns from the family patriarch.

” There is so much talent in rock. How, as a lead guitarist and a music lover, could I possibly tell my son to not listen to anyone?”

Garrison – Unlikely Hero

Although Danny’s influences come from the extreme, a totally different realm than country, it is the diversity within country music that he loves. Swing, shuffle and straight hard hitting beats allow him to mix up his assaults on the ears. It allows a passion to shine through.

Jimmy Buffet’s Margueritaville , Merle Haggard’s ‘Ramblin Fever’ and Strait’s ‘All my Exes Live in Texas’ are some of the songs that helped the band earn the title of Best Country Act in 2000.

‘Up to no Good’ is an original tune that, on this night anyways – removed people from their seats and on to the dance floor. Black Canyon is enjoying their limited role as a predominant country band in Quebec.

George Jones, Farmer’s Daughter and Allan Jackson are a few of the big names that have recognized this. The band considers itself ‘privileged’ to have opened for the big names in country.

“We were supposed to open for Jones on his recent tour in Khanawake … unfortunately Mr.Jones took ill and the show was cancelled. As long as he is okay, that’s all that matters.” Says the band’s singer – Ray.

Rick, the group’s practical joker – agrees.

“We’ll just keep ‘walking’ around … Looking for the next gig. As Ray’s unofficial guide – I’ll take him by the arm and lead him to success!”

“Like the time he grabbed me to sit in the restaurant?” Answers Ray. ” He walked me around in circles through the hotel for an hour …!”

” No thanks …” He laughs.

At least it was in another province. Nobody recognized Quebec’s number one country band.

Not yet …!


Black Canyon will be the house act every second Tuesday at Le Pionnier. They are also the main draw at Spurs Country Bar on St.Jacques in NDG.

3 thoughts on “Black Canyon – Quebec Country Music; American Style”

  1. Would you be available to play in Gatineau on July 11th ( Friday) for a wedding? Alot of fans from spurs ! Lol what would be the cost? Thanks

  2. Hi would love to see you guys again its been a while & love your music
    from Don Richard & Diane from New Brunswick .

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