When Alec Salmon first performed on drums eight decades ago at his one-room schoolhouse near Bashaw in Central Alberta, it didn’t go well.
“When we got going, the crowd went out the door,” Salmon, 88, told Global News on Saturday, ahead of a performance in his former school. “We made such a heck of a bad noise.”
Since then, he has had a lot more practice, playing instruments that include the drums, accordion and banjo.
Salmon’s main instrument is the saxophone, but he said he doesn’t play for his own satisfaction.
“I don’t really [enjoy playing], but it seems that the people do. They keep wanting me to come back,” he said to laughter from the crowd.
Salmon estimates he has performed with 14 different bands over the years. For the past decade, he has led the group Alec and the Buffalo Lake Band.
“He’s just a lot of fun. He’s a joker,” said Judy Dinsmore, who plays spoons in the band. “He’s fun to be around.”
“We never ever had an alarm clock in our house,” said his son, Grant. “We got woken up at 5:00 by a saxophone or an accordion, or piano, or something like that.”
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Music never paid the bills for Salmon, who worked as a farmer and auctioneer.
“We played a lot of wedding dances and a lot of anniversaries, funerals and stuff like that — but I tell you, I never made enough money on it to get a haircut,” he said.