MINDEMOYA – Manitoulin musician and singer Larry Karn was inducted into the Great Northern Opry by the Northern Ontario Country Music Association (NOCMA) this past Saturday in Sault Ste. Marie.
“I’m now a member of a special group of people; talented musicians and singers,” stated Mr. Karn on Monday.
“It was great, everybody was so friendly and appreciative and happy that I was nominated. And the other members who have been previously inducted welcome you with open arms,” stated Mr. Karn.
Mr. Karn was among a select group of musicians and singers who were inducted this past weekend. “After you are presented with your induction ring, recipients perform a song. I sang a Ricky Skaggs tune, ‘Crying My Heart Out Over You’,” he said, noting the house band that accompanied him “were excellent musicians.”
The presentation of the induction of Mr. Karn into the Great Northern Opry was made by Ben and Crystal Lentir, district representatives of the NOCMA.
“It’s the (Manitoulin Island) nominating committee, pretty well made up of musicians and singers who are already members of the Great Northern Opry, who decide who we will be nominating for induction every year,” said Mr. Lentir. “When I canvassed everyone who we should nominate for this year everyone mentioned Larry Karn, so we put his name forward for induction.”
“Larry definitely deserves this award,” said Mr. Lentir. “It’s an honour to be selected for this induction; the Great Northern Opry originated 30 years ago to acknowledge Northern Ontario entertainers and musicians that do not normally get this time of recognition in the country music business.”
Two members of the band Double Barrel that Mr. Karn is a member of had already been inducted into the Great Northern Opry. Mr. Lentir told the Recorder previously that Mr. Karn 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.”
Mr. Karn had told the Recorder after he had been nominated for induction earlier this year, “I was trying to remember when I first got into music; I guess it was when I was 10 and got a guitar. 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.”
“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 for 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.”
The band still practices once a week and play several shows each year.
As for the ride up in the bus to Sault Ste. Marie and those who travelled from Manitoulin to be at the induction, “I was amazed at the number of people that showed up. We had a bus full and we had a great time on the bus playing music and signing. There was another 50-60 more people that drove up on their own to be there. It was amazing.”
Mr. Lentir added, “again this year we would like to thank everyone from the district for their tremendous support of the Northern Opry, who buy tickets and take the bus up to the Sault to support our honourees. We wouldn’t be able to go on without this support.”