Frenchman River Gospel Jam – it’s worth the drive
by Dorothy Lethbridge
The Frenchman River Gospel Jam (FRGJ) is one of Canada’s largest and longest running Gospel Music festivals. The event has provided outstanding entertainment and worship for almost three decades.
Located in south west Saskatchewan, Shaunavon, with its down to earth hospitality, is known for the most Olympians per capita of any location in Canada, and for hosting the FRGJ. Often the town comes close to doubling in size during this weekend, drawing people from near and far as the event features a blend of top North American and local talent.
Past line-ups include faith-based country bands such as Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, High Valley, The Oak Ridge Boys, Diamond Rio, Paul Brandt, George Canyon, and Hunter Brothers, as well as Southern Gospel giants such as The Hoppers, The Browns, Ball Brothers and countless others.
This year has a fantastic lineup as well, and it’s great to welcome back The Oak Ridge Boys as part of their “Shine the Light” tour on their only Canadian stop in 2018.
FRGJ is located in the Crescent Point Wickenheiser Centre, named after the Oil Company and Olympian Hailey Wickenheiser. The Centre provides the amenities to better handle the larger crowds and contributes to the comfort of the participants in providing air conditioning and seating regardless, rain or shine.
The three-day weekend event starts Friday night and runs all day Saturday and into Sunday, with a wide selection of musical talent spanning a broad appeal.
The Friday main stage concert features The Petersens who are joined by Canada’s Double Portion and the Catherine Lewans Band. The Friday’s Late Night Stage is meant for the young-at-heart who can expect the Hip Hop Crew of Legacy One performing spoken word poetry with DJ music.
This stage also presents the Local Legends segment of FRGJ, showcasing local talent. This vision has given a platform for the early years of bands, such as Hunter Brothers, High Valley, and Catherine Lewans, from which to grow.
Saturday evening’s feature act will be the Southern Gospel sounds of The Nelons. This legendary band was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2016. They have been featured on the Gaither Hymn Sings, and have graced the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. The following evening, they will perform their Americana favourites which include songs such as Gentle on My Mind, Coat of Many Colours, Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
Opening for The Nelons will be one of Canada’s premier emerging worship bands, Grace Revolution. Their repertoire includes original anthem-style songs combined with timely anointed worship songs popularized by groups such as Hillsong and Bethel. They are fresh, and gifted with passion and the energy to impact all generations.
Also featured on this main stage will be Ben Crane who is an award-winning, top-selling cartoonist with greeting card giant Leanin’ Tree. Joined by his fiddle-playing daughter, Jessica, Ben always brings his wholesome humour to the stage through music and visuals. With roots in traditional country, Ben incorporates hints of bluegrass, blues and swing.
Saturday Late Night is with the talented looper, Paul Woida. We’re expecting a large number of youth to attend, and lots of campers for the weekend too.
New to FRGJ this year is a Sunday morning hymn sing hosted by Maria Drost, daughter of Shaunavon-born Olympian, Jungle Jim Hunter. Following a brief break will be the worship service with Grace Revolution, followed by speaker T.J. Green.
Sunday from 2 pm to 5 pm features the iconic Oak Ridge Boys with some opening talent. This schedule allows plenty of opportunity to take a drive into the country, enjoy some homemade pie when arriving for the intimate concert experience. This is a full show with all the big production of any of The Oak Ridge Boys’ concert dates. Day tickets are available for $55 in advance from www.picatic.com.
Advance weekend tickets are only $90. Ages 12 and under are free. Other freebees include: Saturday morning Pancake Breakfast, Saturday’s Kid’s Zone, Saturday all day Free Stage, Late Night Stage, RV and tent camping (including a new dump station) and lots of on-site parking. These are all possible thanks to the generosity of the sponsors and donations during this event.
Please see www.frgj.ca for a complete listing of talent, schedule and ticket purchasing information.
The Frenchman River Gospel Jam is so worth the drive.