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Rhythm Pals

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Origin: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The country music trio formed in 1946 in New Westminster, BC, by the accordionist and baritone Marc Wald (b Bismarck, ND, 1922), the bass player and tenor Mike Ferbey (b Saskatoon 1926), and the guitarist and tenor Jack Jensen (b Prince Rupert, BC, 1925). Wald and Ferbey had toured western Canada in the late 1930s with Sleepy (Leslie Frost) and Swede (Nels Nelson) and the Tumbleweeds from Saskatoon.

Patterning their style after the Sons of the Pioneers, the Rhythm Pals made their debut on CKNW radio's 'Bill Rae's Roundup'. Regular appearances followed on CBC Vancouver radio's 'Burns Chuckwagon' and other shows. In 1948 the Rhythm Pals performed on US TV, one of the first Canadian groups to do so. They toured with Wilf Carter in 1950, worked briefly in Hollywood, and in 1958 moved to Toronto. While starring in 1959 on their own CBC radio show, 'Swing Easy,' they joined 'The Tommy Hunter Show' and were subsequently regular performers on most of Hunter's CBC radio and TV shows until 1977. They also had their own 'Chuckwagon Show' 1963-6 on CBC radio. Besides touring widely in Canada they performed, as part of Hunter's CBC concert parties, in Europe and the Far East. In the early 1980s the trio regrouped in British Columbia. Although Wald retired in 1987, Ferbey, Jensen and others continued to perform throughout western Canada in concert and at fairs, stampedes, etc, in 1991, thus qualifying the Rhythm Pals as one of the longest continuing groups in Canadian pop music.

The trio recorded some 78s in 1953 with Juliette for Aragon and subsequently made LPs for Arc, Decca, Banff, Arpeggio, CTL, Spindrift, and its own Pals label. The Rhythm Pals 30th Anniversary (2-Spindrift SR-1, repackaged as The Best of the Rhythm Pals, 2-Ross Sound RS-1040) included among its 30 songs 'Blue Shadows' (their theme on radio and TV), 'Bluebird on Your Windowsill' (which they had introduced on CKNW in the late 1940s), 'Big Lazy Old River,' 'Broken Hearts and Faded Dreams,' and the Bob Nolan (Sons of the Pioneers) classics 'Cool Water' and 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds'. Other songs associated with the trio are 'Never Ending Song of Love' and 'Lead Me Gently Home,' the latter one of several hymns in its repertoire.

The Rhythm Pals won Juno Awards as best country group of 1965, 1967, and 1968 and were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Honor in 1989.

Author Margaret Daly


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