ON THE ROAD WITH BILL and SUE-ON HILLMAN
A 50-Year Musical Journey
www.hillmanweb.com/book
HILLMAN PHOTO ARCHIVE:  POSTER MOSAICS
These photos were collated to illustrate the anecdotes in the
GIG NOTES Chapters of our 50-Year Musical Odyssey book.

Intro | Early Years | 60s Decade | 70s Decade | Recordings | UK | 80s and 90s | 21st Century | Sue-On | Roots | Gigs

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1970s DECADE



 

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FIRST LIVE COLOUR BROADCAST
Our Show from CKX-TV Studios in Brandon, MB
Since our first show on CKX in 1962 we appeared in a multitude of regular noon shows, specials, remotes, the Western Union weekly series, ads, and even early videos filmed on location on 16mm. 

Sometime in the '70s we were honoured to be invited to appear as the first group to be featured in the station's debut live colour broadcast and later anniversary specials. CKX-TV had started broadcasting in black and white on January 28, 1955, a memorable day for TV-starved SW Manitobans, but previous to this CKX radio dated all the way back to 1928. 

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HILLMAN NORTHERN CANADA TOUR :: Pt. I
Flying Into Island Lake Adventure
In the early '70s we were invited to play two evening shows at Island Lake (Garden Hill), an Indian reserve on an island on Island Lake. The lake is the sixth largest in Manitoba and is situated 300 km northeast of Winnipeg on the Ontario border. 

Sue-On, Barry and I loaded our equipment onto a plane at St.Andrews airport a little north of Winnipeg, and took off for the two-hour-long flight over the rugged Canadian Shield area. Approaching the airport we could see that the runway pretty much took up the entire land area of a small island which was separate from the other communities on neighbouring islands. 

HILLMAN NORTHERN CANADA TOUR :: Pt. I :: Flying Into Island Lake 
Row 1: 1. Departure Airport: St Andrews north of Winnipeg ~ 2. Manitoba map with Island Lake ~ 3. Destination Airport: Island Lake
Row 2: Three photos from the air: Approaching Island Lake
Row 3: Promo shots for our US and Canada Tours: Sue-On - Barry - Bill
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HILLMAN NORTHERN CANADA TOUR :: Pt. II
Island Lake / Garden Hill Reserve Arrival and Gigs
Our transportation to our destination on a neighbouring island was waiting for us -- a canoe. We loaded our guitars, amps, drums, and cases onto the boat, but our tall Shure Vocalmaster PA speaker columns had to be balanced cross-ways, hanging a few feet over each side of the canoe. We made it safely to our digs -- the teachers' dorm which was now vacant since the teachers were all away on summer holidays. 

Our two shows on the Island Lake Garden Hill Reserve were in the school gym. We were surprised to see that there was no stage. We played "in the round" with the audience seated on the floor. The next day, before our evening show, saw us back in a boat, but now we were being given a guided tour around the many islands in the area -- the most popular being one on which the locals had found enough clearings and soil to plant vegetable gardens. Our flight back was scheduled for noon the next day, so we had time to visit the trading post again to purchase souvenirs and to leave a box of our record albums for them to sell. We then overloaded a canoe again and set out over treacherous waters for the island airport. 

HILLMAN NORTHERN CANADA TOUR :: Pt. II :: Island Lake / Garden Hill Reserve Arrival and Gigs
Row 1: 1. Collage 1 ~ 2. Unloading equipment after landing ~ 3. Bill 'giving a hand moving' the aircraft that rammed into a refrigerator in the cargo storage area
Row 2: 1. Arrival of our canoe 'taxi' ~ 2. Sue-On readying our equipment for loading into the canoe ~ 3. Loading our gear into the canoe
Row 3. 1. Crossing the lake to Garden Hill via canoe ~ 2. Approaching our digs: the teachers residence by the school ~ 3. Carrying our gear up the bank to the school auditorium for Friday and Saturday shows
Row 4. 1. Saturday afternoon exploration of the many islands by boat ~ 2. Sunday return to the airport dock ~ 3. Preparing to load equipment into our return aircraft by the terminal - many spectators
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Hillman Grey Cup Celebration with
Princess Patricia Light Infantry

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Special Recording Sessions: Free Spirit and Forman Fiddles

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BILL & SUE-ON TELEVISION AND RADIO SHOWS I :: '60s-'90s
CKX-TV Noon Shows ~ Co-Op  Neighbour Nights ~ Provincial Ex Remotes ~ First Colour Special ~ Western Union Weekly Shows ~ Western Union and Russ Gurr Special ~ Bill and Sue-On Hillman Specials ~ Hillmans Hosting the Boggy Creek Promo Special ~ Old Time Radio Memories ~  Local Canada and USA Stations ~ BBC ~ Opry North ~ Bill and Sue-On on Network CBC & CTV ~ BIG COUNTRY AWARDS ~ Coleman CBC-TV Documentary

MAMA TRIED  |  PUT YOUR HAND IN THE HAND

Early TV Years:
www.hillmanweb.com/odyssey1
www.hillmanweb.com/h700.html
www.hillmanweb.com/h208.html
CBC's Coleman & Co.: Hillman Bio Documentary
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PRINCE ALBERT PENITENTIARY SHOWS
and THE PA WOMEN'S PRISON

MAMA TRIED  |  CHATTANOOGA PRISON TRAIN

In the Jailhouse Now
While in Prince Albert for their Summer Exhibition, where we appeared as the Grandstand headliners we were invited to perform an afternoon show in Prince Albert Penitentiary -- a maximum security facility for serious offenders. But we had a disappointing call from the Warden the day before our appearance. There had just been an attempted prison break and the Pen was in lock-down. Apparently an inmate had somehow hidden under the engine hood of the Warden's vehicle as a means of getting through the gate. He wasn't successful. He was discovered after the Warden heard his screams of pain. He was seriously burned by the heat from the engine. On the morning of our planned appearance the authorities relented and we went ahead with the show. 

We passed through a number of clanging barred gates -- reminiscent of the opening of the old "Get Smart" TV show. After setting up our equipment on the stage in the large auditorium, the cons were filed in. It all seemed very familiar as we were quite acquainted with Johnny Cash's Live at San Quentin show. My opening number drew thunderous applause -- I was quite thrilled at being so appreciated, until I realized I was being upstaged by Sue-On's dance moves behind me. Our buddy Kerry Morris had taken over the drums which allowed Sue-On to come up front and work the crowd. 

The show went well -- our vocals and Barry's fiddle had our captive audience stomping and applauding for well over an hour. In appreciation the  cons presented us with hand-tooled leather wallets from their shop. as well as with framed and numbered Honourary PA Convict Certificates. Mementoes we still proudly display among our show biz memorabilia from the past.

The Ladies Go Barless Here
On the day after our PA Pen show we asked to make a return visit to the PA Women's Prison. We had done a show here a few years before with the Federal Grain Train troupe. No slamming of barred gates here. . .  curtains, TVs, soft furniture, and pin-ups on the walls were the order of the day. We didn't do a show this time as most of the inmates were downtown on a supervised shopping trip -- but a few of the inmates led us on a tour of the facility and we had some peeks into the prisoners' temporarily vacant rooms . . . ah. . . cells.
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"GET TOGETHER FESTIVAL" PERFORMANCE
PORTAGE AVE., WINNIPEG 1972

LADY LUCK  |  FARTHER AWAY
In 1972 we played the "Getting Together with Winnipeg Festival" -- sort of a forerunner of what would later become Folklorama. The event had been first organized in 1970 to celebrate Manitoba's Centennial. The celebrations were planned on many streets and other venues all around the city. It was very successful and similar events were planned each summer for the next two years. We performed on a stage on Portage Avenue which was blocked off from traffic and the street was teeming with people. We set up on a stage in front of Eaton's department store. It was almost surreal looking down Portage Avenue and seeing shoulder to shoulder spectators as far as we could see. We did our show. Applause and audience participation was good. 

We later learned that some had complained that almost all the events were youth oriented and many thought that it had become just another rock festival which could be held at other locations. In the following year - 1973 - it had morphed into a new project called Folklorama which has been a major Winnipeg celebration every year since. 

After our performance we made a hurried exit and drove non-stop all night to the Peace River Country where we were booked for a fair parade and dance the next day. Barry Forman, Kerry Morris, Sue-On and I all took turns driving through the night. As so often happens, when Sue-On took the wheel a torrent of rain descended. This coincided with the beginning of road construction. We slept while Sue-On guided the slip-slidin' vehicle through a quagmire. We made it to Peace River in time for the fair's opening day parade.

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HILLMAN 1974 TOUR OF NE USA ~ Pt. I
GRANDSTAND SHOWS AT STATE & COUNTY FAIRS

MONTANA (The tour in song)

* Our summer tour of '74 took us all over the American North West, 
where we were billed as the Bardine's feature act, 
"Sue-On and the Western Union from Canada."

* Other performers on the bill included country singers 
Jeannie C. Riley, Charlie Louvin, The Blackwood Singers
and Hee-Haw's Archie Campbell
as well as many international variety / vaudeville acts.

Much more at: www.hillmanweb.com/h303.html


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HILLMAN 1974 TOUR OF NE USA ~ Pt. II
GRANDSTAND SHOWS AT STATE & COUNTY FAIRS

HOW MANY ARMS
* We worked as headliners on evening grandstand shows at county and state fairs, and rodeos. Although we worked as a trio, with Sue-On on drums, Bill on guitar, and Barry Forman on bass and fiddle, we often hired a local drummer to sit in on drums for part of the show, so that Sue-On could work the crowd -- moving and dancing all over the huge stages with a hand-held mike.

See more in our 50-YEAR MUSICAL ODYSSEY BOOK
GIG NOTES SECTION 6

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BANDMATE KEVIN PAHL
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BAND MATES REMEMBERED

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HILLMAN PHOTO ARCHIVE: POSTER MOSAICS

Intro | Early Years | 60s Decade | 70s Decade | Recordings | UK | 80s and 90s | 21st Century | Sue-On | Roots | Gigs

www.hillmanweb.com/book

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