There’ll be a Mercey-ful af­ter­noon in Mary­hill

The Larry Mercey Trio makes its lat­est stop at the Com­mer­cial Tavern for a 3 p.m. show on Sun­day

The Woolwich Observer - - THE ARTS - STEVE KAN­NON

LARRY MERCEY IS NO stranger to the Com­mer­cial Tavern, that Mary­hill bas­tion of tra­di­tional coun­try mu­sic. Like­wise, fans of that sound are no stranger to Mercey and his six decades of per­form­ing.

Mercey got his start in 1956, per­form­ing with the CKNX barn dance broad­cast from Wing­ham. The fol­low­ing year, he and his brother Ray founded the Mercey Brothers. The duo was joined by brother Lloyd in 1966, and the Mercey Brothers con­tin­ued to record and per­form un­til 1989. Dur­ing that time, they is­sued 17 al­bums and some 50 sin­gles, many of which went to num­ber-one on the charts. The brothers have been in­ducted into the Cana­dian Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Fame.

His brothers even­tu­ally mov­ing on to other pur­suits, Mercey went solo in 1990, the al­bums and hits con­tin­u­ing. His “new” band – The Larry Mercey Trio, with Ge­orge Lons­bury (gui­tar and vo­cals) and Al Alder­son (bass and vo­cals) – has been to­gether since 2004, putting to­gether a pol­ished show that will be pleas­ing the crowd Sun­day af­ter­noon.

That show will be all about the clas­sic coun­try mu­sic the Com­mer­cial Tavern is known for.

“It’s just a great place. The au­di­ence there know tra­di­tional coun­try mu­sic,” he said, not­ing he ex­pects to see many of the reg­u­lars out on Sun­day.

“It’s kind of like old home week ... at shows these days. There are peo­ple who keep com­ing back for years and years.”

Though he’s play­ing fewer shows these days, and it’s been a long time since he made ar­du­ous tours across the coun­try, there are still fans who keep in touch.

“You make so many friends out on the road,” he said of his years of per­form­ing.

Take, for in­stance, a Saskatchewan cou­ple who, start­ing in 1960, be­came such fans of the band that they had two bed­rooms and ex­tra space built into their new house in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the band on its west­ern tours.

“That be­came our home in the west,” said Mercey, not­ing he stayed in touch with them even af­ter those tour­ing days were done. “They’ve passed now, but they were such great friends.

“You miss that,” he added of the up­side of tour­ing.

Mercey has many such sto­ries from his decades in the mu­sic in­dus­try, and he’s been dili­gently re­call­ing and writ­ing them down for some years now with an eye to­wards fin­ish­ing a book on those ex­pe­ri­ences.

“It’s been fun rem­i­nisc­ing about those days,” he said of writ­ing the book.

“Some­times I call my brothers and ask what they re­mem­ber. Some­times it’s the op­po­site of what I re­mem­ber,” he laughed.

In writ­ing the book, he draws on some 22 scrap­books of clip­pings, tour sched­ules and agen­das that date back to the early days.

“I’ve got a lot to help my mem­ory along.”

He’s been go­ing through the his­tory, start­ing in 1956. As of to­day, he’s chron­i­cled through 1982.

“It’s just like liv­ing my life over,” he said.

On Sun­day in Mary­hill, how­ever, he’ll be adding to his long ex­pe­ri­ence as a per­former. There’s no time for sto­ry­telling on stage, as the trio’s shows are all about the mu­sic.

Mercey says they’ll be do­ing the hits and the clas­sics from The Mercey Brothers days on through.

“That’s the stuff that peo­ple want to hear. Some of them I’ve been do­ing since 1966, and I still en­joy play­ing them.”

While he’s scaled back the per­for­mance sched­ule, he in­sists on prac­tic­ing reg­u­larly to stay sharp and to keep the fin­gers in shape for play­ing the gui­tar.

“You have to keep those cal­luses on the end of your fin­gers,” he laughed, adding his weekly to-do list al­ways startes with “sing, sing, sing.”

“The voice is like a mus­cle, and you have to ex­er­cise the mus­cle.”

He also leads a reg­u­lar Thurs­day night jam ses­sion in the 55-plus com­mu­nity where he lives.

“Two of the reg­u­lars are 91, which gives me hope that I can keep play­ing for a lit­tle while longer,” he said with a chuckle.

The Larry Mercey Trio per­forms Novem­ber 11 start­ing at 3 p.m. at the Com­mer­cial Tavern. Tick­ets are avail­able at the venue, 1303 Mary­hill Rd., or by call­ing 519-648-3644. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit­mer­cial­tav­

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