Lorne Clayton will be the first to admit he doesn’t have a musical background, but the square dance caller might just be up for a Juno award next year.
The Cordova Bay resident is hoping that his new album, Goldwing, will be nominated in the dance category at the 2016 Junos, which will be hosted next spring in Calgary. While the Junos have categories for rock, pop, jazz and rap, square dancing doesn’t have its own category, which is why he’s pursuing a nod in the broader dance category.
If selected, this would be Clayton’s second Juno nomination: In 2012, his rendition of the traditional gospel song Robe of White was picked for the same category, but was later pulled for not meeting the criteria.
“At the time, they came back and said, ‘In the dance category, we only accept albums, we don’t accept singles,’” he said.
“After I did this album, I got contacted by [the record company] Gold Wing saying, ‘We’re going to resubmit you for a Juno in 2016.’ The nominations don’t open for six weeks, but they’ve already informed me they’re going to be nominating me in the dance category.”
Clayton has been square dancing since 1991 and got his start calling out dance cues shortly after taking up the dance form.
“At the time, they had what was called goofer’s night – it’s like a karaoke night – and people said once or twice, ‘Oh, you’d make a good caller,’” he recalled.
He started calling locally and was picked up 11 years ago by the Mavericks Square Dance Club, which operates out of the Royal Oak Hall, to call for them.
“Then, there was a really interesting opportunity,” he said. “After [Hurricane] Katrina happened, some callers in the States, they wanted to put together a record where all the proceeds went to help Katrina.
“I was one of the few Canadian callers that they sort of knew, and they wanted it to be an international event. We got together, we went to Nashville and we recorded When the Saints Go Marching In as a fundraiser.”
The song brought in more than $100,000 and led to Clayton being contacted by two studios: Fine Tune/Gold Wing Productions out of California and Shindig Productions in South Africa.
“One of the people who was associated with (Fine Tune/Gold Wing) was on the Katrina record, and they thought my voice would be appropriate for recording,” he said, “and [Shindig was] looking for a bit of an international flavour for their label.”
Clayton said the use of pre-recorded calling tracks has grown as some smaller clubs no longer have callers. But, he did say square dancing music with vocals is a bit odd for the Junos’ dance category.
“It’s quite unusual because most of the nominations in the dance category are instrumental – waltzes and tangos and that sort of stuff.”
Nonetheless, he’s keeping his fingers crossed that the nomination will stick this time around.
For more information about Clayton and the Mavericks Square Dance Club, visit themavericks.org.