The Ashern Rodeo is still almost six months away, but the board is launching its fundraising efforts for this year’s edition with a fundraising concert.
Manitoban Jerry Sereda, who has recorded several chart-topping singles on the Indigenous music charts and received a handful of Western Canadian Music Award and Indigenous Music Award nominations, will headline the concert, which takes place at Ashern Centennial Hall on March 16 at 8 p.m.
“It’s good to see made-in-Manitoba talent. We don’t see a lot of these kinds of acts come up here,” Ashern Rodeo secretary Meghan DeFoort told The Interlake Spectator. “We had Doc Walker three years ago, but we were planning on this fundraiser to begin with and they were like, ‘Hey, we want to come play for you guys.’”
Sereda, 35, grew up just north of Dauphin in the hamlets of Ethelbert and Pine River, and is stoked about bringing his show to Ashern for Interlake country music fans.
“We love to do shows in as many communities in Manitoba as possible because I’m from Manitoba and I’ve been in a lot of these communities,” he said. “When I was in university, I worked for Manitoba Hydro and I had the opportunity to work in Ashern and work around the area — all the way up to Grand Rapids.
“We covered quite a bit of ground and I got to fall in love with a lot of little communities in there, and whenever we get an opportunity to do something like this we love to get out to small communities and bring our version of country music there, and hope they enjoy it.”
His love for country music came from the wide array of music he and his friends grew up listening to in the Parkland region.
“I grew up with all of my friends and we listened to everything from Snoop Dogg to Ace of Base to whatever was popular at the time,” Sereda said. “So I think my musical influences are very diverse, but growing up there was always something organic, truthful and natural about country music that drew me to it, and made me fall in love with it.”
He noted that his performances aren’t simply for country music fans of one generation because he has been influenced by so many different artists, past and present.
“Whenever we do live shows — when it comes to cover tunes — we do a lot of the stuff that I grew up with and grew up appreciating, like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard … and it traverses through my own experience with country music,” Sereda added. “We put in some Garth Brooks, some George Strait, some Alan Jackson, and that brings us to today. Throw in some Luke Bryan, throw in some Florida Georgia Line, some Eric Church.
“It’s very diverse what it is that we play and what we love to play. We like to put on a show where there is something for everybody … and there’s our own stuff that we intermingle in there just to keep the show moving and changing it up for people.”
In fact, it was Sereda who reaching out to the Ashern Rodeo board looking to see if they were interested in having him play at the event, which takes place Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
DeFoort hopes that Sereda’s presence will lead to more funds being raised, which in turn will increase programming to get more families out to the rodeo on Labour Day weekend.
“We’re always hearing there’s not a lot of stuff for kids, so we want to try to be able to bring more stuff for the kids out to the rodeo to attract families,” she said.
Tickets can be purchased at local Ashern businesses, or by calling DeFoort at 204-302-9815.