More than five decades later, the schedule isn’t as hectic but performing is every bit as fun as it’s always been for Larry Mercey.
A founder of the legendary Mercey Brothers – the pride of Hanover – Mercey went solo in 1990 after the band packed it in, eventually ramping things back up with the formation of the Larry Mercey Trio and subsequent return to recording.
His love of entertaining will be on display Nov. 13 on stage at Maryhill’s Commercial Tavern.
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.
When his brothers took different paths, Mercey continued with the music business. His first solo outing was the independent Full Speed Ahead in 1990, featuring the the hit single “These Crazy Arms of Mine.” In 1991 he was nominated for Country Male Vocalist awards at the Junos and the Country Music Awards. By 1994 he had landed a deal with Rodeo Records, who picked up
the tab on album number two, Let’s Deal Again.
Slowing down for a while, Mercey found he couldn’t stray too far from performing and recording, recruiting George Lonsbury (guitar and vocals) and Al Alderson (bass and vocals) to form the Larry Mercey Trio in 2004.
“This is an example of never say never. I’ve said for years I was through with recording and would never be back in the studio,” said Mercey after the release of It’s Not Over Yet, featuring “On My Father’s Side.”
“It’s a song that my brother Ray and I wrote the verses to, a gospel song – it’s really gone over well,” said the former Elmira resident who now lives in Iderton, near London, Ont.
Over the course of five decades, he’s played across the country, in Europe and the U.S., including at Nashville’s famed Grand Ole Opry. There are Juno Awards, Big Country Awards and the C.F. Martin Guitar Lifetime Achievement Award.
Through the ups and downs, getting out on stage and playing for an audience has never lost its luster.
“I just love it. It’s my life,” said Mercey, acknowledging the many miles on the road in the early days weren’t always easy. “I have no regrets with it. I feel very, very blessed, really.”
The gigs are less numerous these days, in part due to changes in the industry that’s seen less demand for traditional country music and fewer venues booking such performers. In that regard, he’s got nothing but praise for Paul Weber, who keeps things going at the Commercial Tavern.
“I don’t know any other place like it. They really support traditional country music.”
Those who’ve followed his career can expect to hear all of the standards when he hits the stage, from the early days of the Mercey Brothers through the solo days and the trio. For next weekend’s show, it’ll be an “around the campfire” style, the three of them playing and harmonizing together. The show will also include appearances by Naomi Bristow and Randy Satchell, who’ll sit in with the band.
Billed as “the yodelin’ cowgirl,” 14-year-old Bristow, who hails from a small farm near Beeton, Ont., has been something of sensation in country music circles. She’s toured the country and won a packet of awards, including Best Traditional Album of the Year in the U.S. for her third CD, Ridin’ High. She recently travelled to Nashville to record a pair of duets with Grand Ole Opry star Jim Ed Brown.
Satchell, a native of Gadshill, Ont. who began performing with his father’s band at the age of 9, appeared on CKNX-TV’s Circle 8 Ranch, and was part of the barn dance circuit, winning national singing contests in 1981 and 1982. He’s released two albums and continues to perform regularly, opening for a variety of country acts.
“It’s going to be a great show, with lots of variety,” said Mercey, who’s deep into rehearsals.
“I really look forward to it. I put a lot of work into it – there is some pressure to it because you really want to do well.”
The Larry Mercey Trio and their special guests perform Nov. 13 starting at 3 p.m. at the Commercial Tavern in Maryhill. Tickets are $20. For more information, visit http://commercialtavern.tripod.com.