By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Each and every summer, many classic Canadian music acts travel to southern Alberta to perform at local venues to the delight of fans, which include Lethbridge County residents.
Many live music fans from the county, no doubt had cassette tapes, vinyl records or CDs of their favourite 1980s or 1990s bands and/or solo acts cranking in their homes, cars, trucks or tractors.
Do you remember the John Cusack movie “One Crazy Summer”? If you do, you might remember the hit, “What Does It Take” from one of Canada’s biggest bands of the 1980s and onward — Honeymoon Suite.
Honeymoon Suite was also behind some of the greatest hits in the Great Canadian Songbook including “New Girl Now,” “Burning In Love,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Feel It Again,” “Love Changes Everything,” and “Still Loving You.” The hit songs, still heard on radio stations across Canada and abroad, are thanks to primary songwriter and lead guitarist Derry Grehan, who said the band is out on the road this summer including a stop at Average Joe’s this Friday in Lethbridge with classic Canadian songstress and original “Metal Queen” Lee Aaron. “We’ve got a pretty busy summer,” said Grehan, from his home in Illinois, south of Chicago, where he has lived for the past 12 years. “Right in the heart of the Mid-west in the corn fields,” he joked.
Grehan noted the usual cycle for the band is heading out on the road in the spring and playing right through summer and into the fall. “Fairs and festivals and casinos. In the winter, we kind of lay back a little bit and just do some select dates and try to stay out of the cold,” he added. “The summer’s crazy.”
Johnnie Dee, the band’s vocalist and Grehan, were the principal and founding members of Honeymoon Suite, which has always been associated with Niagara Falls, Ont. The band’s first album was released in 1984 and that same year the band was nominated for the “Most Promising Group” Juno Award. In 1986, the band won the “Group of the Year” Juno Award. Honeymoon Suite also had opening stints throughout the U.S. and Canada with Heart, ZZ Top, .38 Special, Journey and Starship. Grehan explained he also takes care of a portion of Honeymoon Suite’s management duties, which is close to a full-time job in itself for the guitarist/songwriter, even through the winter months. “Other than that, I’m the main songwriter, so on my down time I’m in my studio in my basement a lot and I’m always writing.” Living in the United States, Grehan doesn’t necessarily keep track of the Canadian live rock and roll music scene but it seems as though it has remained somewhat vibrant since the band’s dominance in the 1980s and 1990s. “We’ve got busier in the last three or four years,” said Grehan, adding he believes classic Canadian rock is making a comeback. “I don’t see it slowing down.”
Even with the economy slowing down, Grehan believes the live music scene — especially festivals — are alive and well. As long as there are Honeymoon Suite fans — the band will continue to tour, said Grehan.
“We have four of the five original members of the band in the band and we still enjoy going out playing and it’s really the fans and the radio is still playing the music, so why stop,” said Grehan, adding it’s been great playing in the same band for 30 years. “It’s still fun and it pays the bills.”
The Honeymoon Suite/Lee Aaron double-bill kicks off at 8:30 p.m.