Humphrey and the Dumptrucks | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Humphrey and the Dumptrucks

Humphrey and the Dumptrucks. Country-folk group, active 1967-81.

Humphrey and the Dumptrucks

Humphrey and the Dumptrucks. Country-folk group, active 1967-81. It was organized in Saskatoon as a jugband by Gary 'Humphrey Dumptruck' Walsh (banjo, dobro), along with Michael 'Bear' Millar (12-string guitar, bass, jug), Michael 'Ernie' Taylor (guitar, autoharp), and Graeme Card (guitar, mandolin). Each member sang.By 1969 a fulltime and professional band, Humphrey and the Dumptrucks performed throughout western Canada in clubs, on the CBC, and at folk and bluegrass festivals (eg, in Regina and Winnipeg), schools (where they gave workshops), and universities. They often appeared in small Saskatchewan communities, and many of their songs reflected rural life. Taylor described their music as 'prairie music...It's not country and western; that is, it's not a conventional Nashville sound. It's not rock 'n' roll. It's not folk - though it incorporates all three' (Toronto Star, 12 Nov 1977).

After Card left in 1973 to pursue a solo career, the others collaborated with the Regina playwright Ken Mitchell on the country musical Cruel Tears. Loosely based on Othello, it was premiered 15 Mar 1975 at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon and, after some revision, was presented in Vancouver and at the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and on a 12-city tour in 1977. The Dumptrucks appeared as a Greek-style chorus in all performances; 'Humphrey' was replaced on the 1977 tour by the banjo and dobro player Bob 'Cat' Evans. Evans also collaborated with Millar and Taylor in 1977 on the ballet Goose! (based on Mother Goose rhymes) for the Regina Modern Dance Co. With Anne Wright in Evans' place, the Dumptrucks performed 'The Greatest Little Travelling Supershow' for audiences of children in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon in 1979 and in the Maritimes in 1980.

Songs from Cruel Tears and Goose! were issued on LPs under the Dumptrucks' own Sunflower label. The group also made two earlier LPs for Boot, (Hot Spit, BOS-7101, and Six Days of Paper Ladies, BOS-7106) and one for United Artists (Saskatoon, UALA-103).

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