Saturday’s performance at the Commercial Tavern will be something of a homecoming for Joyce Seamone. The Nova Scotia native spent 20 years in southwestern Ontario before returning to the province of her birth in 1987.
It was during her residency in Woodstock, in fact, that Seamone broke out as a musician, hitting the top spot on the charts with her debut single, Testing 1-2-3, in 1972. It was at that point she quit the job with the Royal Bank that had brought her to Ontario, and embarked on a full-time career in the industry.
Over the years, she’s maintained a love for traditional country music, an attachment to this part of the country and a friendship with Paul Weber, who’ll be her host at Maryhill’s Commercial Tavern when Seamone takes the stage August 31.
Since announcing the show, she’s been hearing from fans who are eager to see her perform in this area again.
“I’ve been getting messages from people saying ‘We can hardly wait for you to be here,’” she says down the line from her Nova Scotia home. “It’s going to be a fun time.”
Those at the Maryhill venue Saturday evening can expect to hear the traditional music Seamone is known for.
“That’s what I am, and that’s what they’re going to hear.”
When she was growing up in Nova Scotia, the local radio station played a range of music, but it was the traditional stuff that really caught her ear.
“I really was drawn to country, particularly Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris,” she says. “I just kind of kept at it the rest of my life. I still love it to this day.”
Though typically sticking closer to home these days – it’s been a busy summer festival season on the East Coast, she notes – Seamone is no stranger to the road, having covered many miles in the earlier days of her career.
“I’m a seasoned veteran performer now,” she laughs.
In the early 1970s when she started, there was no internet of course, so phone calls, mailings and stopping in at radio stations to drop off copies of the records were an integral part of the business, along with many, many live shows. Lots of leg work, in short.
That situation has changed in many ways today, but the technology hasn’t been all a boon for the music industry, she notes. But it is in some ways easier for independent artists to get their music out to the public.
It was a different story when she was starting out, especially for female country artists in Canada. Seamone’s Testing 1-2-3 was in fact the only debut single by a female performer to hit #1 on the country music charts during the entire decade of the ’70s.
The gold-record success of that release earned her a deal with Marathon Records, for which she recorded three albums. After that, she joined Stompin’ Tom’s Boot Records, releasing several singles that charted in the top-20.
Eventually growing tired of all the time on the road, she settled back to a more restful pace in Woodstock while continuing to perform, playing clubs, festivals and making TV appearances. Even in that quiet time, she still got considerable airplay on radio across the country, a situation Seamone notes has very much changed today, as the industry is more focused on what’s new and what’s next.
After family matters drew her home in 1987, Seamone started her own Gemini Records label, releasing a series of CD packages, including the 1994 album The Other Side Of Me. She was also instrumental in organizing the long-running Fox Mountain Music Festival staged in Aylesford, Nova Scotia, and sits on the Board Of Directors of the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall Of Fame, in which she was inducted into in 2004.
Having last year turned over the reins of the Fox Mountain festival, Seamone remains busy with summer shows such as the Cavendish Beach Music Festival in PEI and the Hank Snow Tribute in Nova Scotia.
“There’s always something going on in the summer. It’s my busiest time,” she says.
This weekend, that busy time includes a stop in Maryhill.
Joyce Seamone performs August 31 at the Commercial Tavern. Tickets are available at the venue, 1303 Maryhill Rd., or by calling 519-648-3644. For more information, visit