Island musician Larry Karn to be inducted into Great Northern Opry

Larry Karn, front row, second from left, with band ‘Double Barrel.’

MINDEMOYA – Long-time Manitoulin musician and singer Larry Karn of Mindemoya will be inducted into the Great Northern Opry by the Northern Ontario Country Music Association (NOCMA) this fall.

“Larry was nominated and selected by the Northern Ontario Country Music Association to be inducted into The Great Northern Opry in 2019,” said Ben Lentir, a member of the NOCMA Manitoulin nominating committee, this past weekend. “We have names on a list that we go through every year for application. Two members of the band Double Barrel that Larry is in have already been inducted into the Great Northern Opry so it was certainly fitting that he be nominated and inducted as well.”

“It’s a very prestigious thing to be recognized and be inducted (into the Great Northern Opry),” Mr. Lentir told the Recorder this past Sunday. “Larry has spent many years providing musical entertainment, including fundraisers, and is a very talented musician. With his many years in music and having grown up in a musical family, the (Manitoulin Island) committee felt it was fitting that he be the next musician from the Island to be inducted.”

Asked what Mr. Karn’s reaction was when Mr. Lentir and his wife Crystal informed him that he had been nominated and would be inducted into the Great Northern Opry, Mr. Lentir said that Mr. Karn did not know what to say.

“His wife Deb says, ‘you are going to say yes.’ He has spent many years serving his community and over the years has dedicated quite a bit of time providing musical entertainment on the island. This recognition of his efforts and talent is very well deserved.”

“I just play music for the fun of it,” Mr. Karn told the Recorder. “It was a big surprise when Ben and Crystal told me I was going to be inducted into the Great Northern Opry.  When I saw them show up at our house I knew something was up. I thought at first that they were going to ask if I would play at a show but they had a binder as well, so I put two and two together and figured out it was something much bigger.”

“When they told me I had been selected to be inducted in the Great Northern Opry this fall I said, ‘are you sure?’” quipped Mr. Karn. “I’ve been playing music a long time but I don’t think I’m a household name on Manitoulin Island.”

“I was trying to remember when I first got into music; I guess it was when I was 10 and got a guitar,” said Mr. Karn. “My dad played the violin and mom played the piano and they had a band when I was growing up. Their idea of a party was to get everyone together and play music. They instilled music in me.”

Larry Karn

“We had a little band in high school,” continued Mr. Karn, who added, “I’ve been around so long I have recordings on vinyl. In high school, our little band—which included Randy and Keith Guy, Ted Delange and Ron Stringer—did a recording.”

“After that I played in a band with Barry Williamson, Jeff Pyette and a guy named Mike Passorelli. We played for a while, split up and moved on in our lives, getting married and having kids,” continued Mr. Karn. “I had seen Double Barrel play a couple of times; I remember once they were in the Providence Bay Arena and asked if I could sing with them. And I kept hinting over a while that I would like to play with them,” he said, noting the band is made up of Jeff Gilmore, Jeff Pyette and Barry Williamson. “I don’t know how many years I’ve been with the band—about five or six years now and we’re still going.”

“We (Double Barrel) still practice once a week and play several shows each year,” said Mr. Karn.

Mr. Lentir told the Recorder that NOCMA is presenting an inductee celebration in honour of Mr. Karn prior to his being inducted into the Great Northern Opry in November. The show will take place at the Tehkummah Hall on Saturday, June 22 

starting at 7 pm. “All money collected at the show will go toward his induction costs and expenses.” Tickets for the show are just $15 and can be obtained by calling Ben and Crystal Lentir at 705-210-0807. Music at the celebration will be by The Down Yonder Band and Double Barrel. 

“I’m looking forward to the induction weekend in the Sault,” Mr. Karn told the Recorder. “And I’m looking forward to the bus trip up; I’ve heard it is as much fun as the show itself.”