“Every time I hear an Ian song a movie plays in my head. I call him poet, singer, cowboy historian and friend. This tribute is so well deserved and so well performed.” - Pete Hicks
— CFCW Radio
Eighteen years ago a number of Ian Tyson's onetime sidemen, collaborators and musical admirers came together under the banner of The Gift. It was to be a solitary weekend paying tribute to the singer-songwriter and his massive songbook.
Since that weekend, which found the troupe selling out two shows at Sherwood Park's Festival Place and another at the Arden Theatre in St. Albert, The Gift continues to surface from time to time at festivals, concert halls and cowboy poetry festivals around Alberta and B.C.
Led by pianist and vocalist Stewart MacDougall, who has written, toured and recorded with Tyson, this critically acclaimed show has wowed audiences at the Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary, The Edmonton Folk Music Festival, The Dauphin Country Fest, The Centrepointe Theatre in Ottawa, The Big Valley Jamboree, and many other major venues, regional theatres and festivals.
The Gift line-up includes Tyson alumni Thom Moon on drums, Gordie Matthews on guitar, fiddle ace Myran Szott and Julian Kerr on bass. The core line-up also includes former One Horse Blue lead singer and guitarist Ian Oscar as well as vocalist Tracy Millar. The troupe is thrilled that folk-roots star John Wort Hannam has also been lending his talents to the show.
Collectively these musicians have worked on most of Tyson's recorded output since he first arrived back in Alberta from Toronto in the late seventies. The Gift rolls through 50 years of Tyson's catalogue, finding room for songs going back to the days of Ian and Sylvia and The Great Speckled Bird, through Ian's honky-tonk years, while making room for a large slice of the cowboy culture music that is heard on albums from Old Corrals and Sagebrush, Cowboyography, 18 Inches of Rain, I Outgrew The Saddle and Songs From The Gravel Road.
Tyson himself has praised the show and did the same for the 2008 companion album that featured members of this cast as well as guests like Gordon Lightfoot, Jennifer Warnes, Chris Hillman of the Desert Rose Band and Byrds fame, Corb Lund, The McDades, and Blue Rodeo.
If you are a fan of the music and career of Ian Tyson, The Gift is just that, a gift to those who understand what a force Tyson has been in country, folk and roots music for well over half a century.