Armadillo had been playing a number of years before I joined the band. Their gigs regularly included a mixture of bars, socials, weddings and big summer events, mostly in southwestern Manitoba. They could often be seen playing at the North 40 Saloon, one of Brandon's top venues.

We also played at Melita's annual Straw Bale Boogie. This weekend concert event found the band sharing the bill alongside acts such as Duane Steele, the Poverty Plainsmen and the Johner Brothers.

Other highlights include our July 2 (1999) and July 1 (2000) gigs on the hilltop stage at Dauphin Countryfest.  

More photos from Countryfest later...

An alert reader may remember that I played with Larry in The Cabarets back in the late 70’s. I also had met Steve Meggison when we had played a gig together in a pick-up band. In any case, sometime in 1994, guitarist Steve Moorehead left the band and I got a call from Kelsey. I’m not sure who’s idea that was, but I am glad I got that call.

I hadn’t met Kelsey, but he assures me that he’d seen me playing in Connexion, and the fact that I’d learned the entire lengthy solo in My Sharonna caught his attention.

I played in Armadillo for a longer period of time than I’d spent in any other band and enjoyed every minute of it. That may seem odd in that I really don’t listen to country music, but my appreciation for good musicianship and good friends will always override other considerations.

My job in Armadillo was as second, or mainly, rhythm guitarist. This was a new experience. In every other band I’d been the lead guitarist but Kelsey had that territory well covered leaving me free to contribute in other ways. It was almost relaxing, because, being hyper responsible, I’d always felt the whole weight of every song on my shoulders. Now I could just sit back and add to the song or support what the others were doing so well.

Hard to explain.

From sometime in 1994 until we left Brandon in 2001 Armadillo was a big part of my musical life. When I had to leave, fortunately their original guitarist Steve Moorehead was back in town and ready to step in. I’m always happy to see them all.  They still call on me to fill in when one of them can't make a gig.

The Portfolio

(From the original Armadillo Website ca. 1998)

The Armadillo Story

ARMADILLO is a versatile country band from southwest Manitoba. Their set list often contains Classic and New Country with a handful of classic rock tunes thrown in for good measure.

Their goal is to please the serious country listener/dance crowd as well as entertain the rockin'  party crowd.

The "Unauthorized" Biography

Formed in the early 1990's Armadillo has become a fixture in the local music scene. Its members include:

Kelsey Schoonbaert: Being born the illegitimate son of John Lee Hooker and Loretta Lynn was a mixed blessing to young Kelsey as he was growing up. Despite the impression his father's music made on him, it was his mother's influence that was to guide him at first. However, he soon gave up his ambition to act in Crisco commercials and took up guitar playing. The world is a better place today.

Steve Meggison: Steve's influences include Mountain Music (Turtle Mountain) and obscure African rhythm instruments. His "day job" as a farmer means that he has both independent wealth and almost unlimited spare time. This has allowed him to become one of the outstanding bass players and vocalists in Manitoba.

Larry Gould: Having grown up in the country music capital of Manitoba (Melita), Larry is a veteran of the music scene. He started playing drums at the age of two. By the time he was four he was playing in bars. By the time he was eight he was behind bars. He spends most of his band money on beer, music, and women. He just wastes the rest.

Sandra Schoonbaert: Sandra is an accomplished singer, who also plays keyboards, mandolin, guitar and drums, and hopes to become more versatile soon. As a teenager Sandra was kidnapped and brainwashed by the rock group April Wine. She is in fact the only country singer today to have recognized the subtle but unmistakable April Wine influence in the music of Patti Loveless. She not only has spotted Elvis on numerous occasions, but has him living in her basement.

Ken Storie: Ken was adopted by Armadillo after they found him in the back seat of a Greyhound bus, out on Highway 41. Or was it Route 66?

His memory is somewhat impaired, but he's pretty sure he was playing at a high school dance in Kelsey's home town the night Kelsey was born (or perhaps conceived).

Countryfest Photos

This just has to be Kelsey and I hammering out the dual guitar solo in Can't Get Enough.....