Legendary Canadian rockers 54-40 are bringing their unique sound back to the prairies.
The group is playing the second-annual “Rockin for the Noggin’ Mental Health Charity Benefit Concert” Friday night, presented by the Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon.
Founding member and bassist Brad Marritt caught up with CKOM’s John Gormley to discuss the upcoming show and the band’s history, which stretches back nearly four decades.
“We decided to start a band in the fall of 1980,” Marritt said. “We’re coming on to 38 years.”
Marritt said he and vocalist Neil Osbourne met during social studies class in high school back in 1978. As history buffs who lived near the Canada/U.S. border, he said they chose the band’s name based on U.S. President James Polk’s expansionist slogan “54-40 or fight.” Polk, he said, attempted to draw the border at 54 degress and 40 minutes, which sits at the southern tip of the Alaskan panhandle.
Despite nearly four decades in the industry, Marritt said 54-40 still tours and records, and they regularly visit nearly every part of Canada. Back in February, he said the group made it as far north as Nunavut.
“We dealt with that windchill of 58 below there,” he said with a laugh. “We still go across Canada all the time. I consider it a perk.”
Although he enjoys touring, things haven’t always gone smoothly. The “Ocean Pearl” performers were the victims of theft in early October after a rehearsal for a concert in Vancouver. Marritt said a number of valuable classic instruments were taken.
“Our roadie put everything in the truck and locked it all up,” he said. “Someone broke in and took three vintage electric guitars, my vintage bass, a vintage electric mandolin and two acoustic guitars. We had to scramble to borrow from some friends.”
Marritt said five of the seven pilfered instruments have since been recovered by local police, though the two acoustics remain missing and a reward is offered for their return.
Friday’s concert, which is meant to help raise awareness and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues, takes place at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Centre.