Iconic Indigenous musician Ernest Monias treated the Dehcho community of Nahanni Butte to a unique live performance at the past weekend’s annual Spring Carnival.
The event, in the community’s recreation centre, drew a large crowd of residents and visitors from neighbouring communities eager to see the legendary Monias in action.
“How many people live in Nahanni Butte – do you know?” asked Monias in a Friday conversation with Cabin Radio.
The answer is around 100.
“Yeah? Not very big, eh? But hey, they’ll come from far and wide, and those little 100 people, I promise you, they’ll bring heart,” he said ahead of the show.
Judging by videos of the evening, that promise appears to have been kept.
Last night’s jam ,last songPosted by Aaron Bertrand on Saturday, 18 March 2023
“It was awesome. My first time seeing that many people in Nahanni,” said Aaron Bertrand, who travelled from Fort Liard to see Monias live.
“The weather was great, it all turned out really good.”
Monias, who has been entertaining audiences for more than five decades, delighted the crowd with classic hits and a few new releases. The audience sang along as he performed his most popular songs, including I Hear You Knockin’ and If I Wanted You Girl.
The concert was a part of the Nahanni Butte Spring Carnival, an annual event that celebrates the arrival of spring with drum dances, games, prizes, events, and a feast. Dene musician Johnny Landry performed for residents on Friday evening and was invited back onstage to play a few more songs on Saturday night.
Monias said that ever since Covid-19 disrupted his tour schedule, he has been excited to get back to doing what he does best.
“Ever since this Covid-19 came along, it’s been in the way. It really slowed things down. So I’m really looking forward to the entertainment tonight with Johnny Landry, and the show tomorrow,” he said last Friday.
“We’ll be back,” he promised. “It’s good to get back to this part of the country. It’s beautiful landscapes, nice, beautiful people, beautiful sunshine… couldn’t be any better, eh? So any people interested in me coming back to the Northwest Territories, you tell them to call my manager Brent Hudson at 204-770-8128.”
After the concert, Monias took the time to meet with fans and sign autographs, posing for pictures and chatting with attendees. He expressed gratitude for the warm welcome he received and thanked organizers for thinking of him.
The Nahanni Butte band staff who booked Monias say they’re grateful that everything came together and produced a night people will remember.
“Nahanni Butte would like to thank all of the surrounding communities for coming out and participating in our annual Spring Carnival events,” said Jenn Vital, community coordinator, “and for making our live entertainment so enjoyable. It’s nice to see everyone come together and reconnect.”