High Notes Music Festival brings Jay Gilday and the Ghostboys to mountain slopes

High Notes Music Festival March 23-25th at Panoarma Mountain Resort

By Dauna Ditson


The High Notes Music Festival is returning for an encore this winter. The festival, which is in its second year, will run from March 23rd to 25th at Panorama Mountain Resort. Seven acts will be coming in to perform over the weekend.

Jay Gilday, Speed Control and GhostBoy will perform Rockstar Late Night shows. Jay Gilday and Speed Control will perform on Friday, March 23rd, while GhostBoy will take the stage on the Saturday, March 24th.

The mail and harmony carrier

Jay Gilday is used to living between worlds. Raised in Yellowknife with a mix of Dene First Nation and Irish ancestry, he often felt like he didn’t fit in anywhere. Wherever he was, Mr. Gilday said he felt either too north or too south to belong. Even when he played with his classmates at school, he said, “you could always tell the difference between us.”

“I struggle bringing both parts of my life together,” he said, adding that he thinks many people of mixed heritage or mixed identities feel the same way.

“Playing music is the thing that makes me feel the best,” Mr. Gilday said, adding that music gives him a sense of belonging that he wants to share with others. With his songs, he said he aims to: “bring peace to the struggle most people have within themselves.” In other words, he said, he wants to bring his audiences a musical and metaphorical harmony.

“My music is an ever-changing beast,” he said. He plays folk music at his solo shows, but also plays jazz and rock with others. At its core, he said his music expresses the spirit of the north.

After leaving Yellowknife, Mr. Gilday travelled the country and landed in Edmonton, where he lives with his young family. As a mail carrier by day and a musician by night, he is still carrying many identities. But both of his careers keep his spirit connected with his family and his history; his father teaches music, and his grandfather used to deliver mail by dogsled north of Yellowknife. While Mr. Gilday uses more conventional methods on his route, he enjoys the added commonality with his grandfather.

The father of four said it is a challenge to manage everything he has going on in his life, but he won’t be giving up his day job anytime soon.

“It suits me,” he said. “It feels good being out in the air every day and bringing people the things they need.”

Mr. Gilday was named the 2017 Indigenous artist of the year through the Western Canadian Music Awards.

Old bandmates have a ghostly reunion

Around 20 years ago, Aaron Young and Denis Dufresne joined Barrage, a band that travelled the world and performed more than 300 shows a year. That pace wasn’t sustainable, Mr. Young said, and it contributed to the end of the band.

“Everyone was burnt out,” he said, adding they were ready to move on with their lives.

For 15 years Mr. Young and Mr. Dufresne followed separate career paths in the music industry. While Mr. Young worked mainly behind the scenes as a producer, Mr. Dufresne played in the country music industry and won multiple awards from the Canadian Country Music Association.

The two Calgary residents recently joined forces and formed a new group – called GhostBoy – that will be performing at the High Notes Music Festival at Panorama Mountain Resort next month.

Twice the age he was when he joined Barrage, Mr. Young, who is now 40, said he feels ready to step back into the light.

“You’ve been through a lot (when you’re older),” he said. “You have more to say. It’s more authentic.”

“Prepare for something different,” Mr. Young said. “We take country back to its roots but also evolve it… We’re just doing our own thing and it’s apology free.”

For more information on High Notes Music Festival and to buy tickets, visit https://www.panoramaresort.com/panorama-today/high-notes/. Watch upcoming editions of the Pioneer for more musician features prior to the High Notes Music Festival.

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