A MUSICAL ODYSSEY
Present
EARLY
TELEVISION YEARS
'60s and '70s
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    Sue-On's initiation into the television production process was sort of a long distance experience. I had worked a variety of radio and televison shows with the Country Gentlemen since 1962. In the winter of '65-'66 Sue-On's parents decided that it would be best for her to continue her schooling in Winnipeg, where she could be more fully immersed in Chinese culture. Here she was enrolled in Miles McIntyre High School, lived with relatives and paid for her keep by working nights and weekends at the New Canton Restaurant in Chinatown. Undaunted by this imposed separation we kept in touch with daily letters, weekend visits, and nightly telephone calls until the end of the school year in June. Technology at CKX Studios had advance. They now were able to record TV shows on tape, utilizing a giant machine that covered most of a wall, so they were able to time-shift our shows so that they could be seen at a later date in glorious black and white. In many ways this was a welcome change as performing daily live shows in those days could be quite stressful. On the negative side, however, the station found that they could cut costs by showing the same shows over and over, until we became so frustrated and embarassed by endless reruns that we just stopped doing the show. Our daily noon show was taped during evenings on weekdays but not even this important routine could separate the young lovers. Invariably, in the middle of an important recording sequence, there would be a call from the deck and I would bound up to the elevated control room to take a call from Winnipeg. Although the band and television crew occasionally grumbled, they were remarkably tolerant and understanding -- one of many examples of how friends made our 2 1/2 year courtship possible.

    Remarkably, within two years, Sue-On was actually on that same set -- and had become the featured singer with our band which by then I had renamed The Western Union - a name actually inspired by a Zane Grey novel. In the early shows Sue-On made use of a Hohner keyboard which we had added to the band -- she made good use of her years of piano lessons -- combined with whatever knowledge of chording by ear that I could pass on to her. Later when we trimmed our numbers down to a trio again to fit on some of the pub stages, we had more need of a backbeat to cut through the crowd noise. By this time we had visited the old Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville where they were finally allowing an abbreviated stand-up drum kit. So, with this as inspiration it was back to the wholesale catalogues from which we ordered a snare, stand, high hat and a variety of zildjan cybals. We then listened to what drummers appeared to be doing on record and... Shazam... we now had what was probably the world's only Chinese girl, singing stand-up, drummer in a country band.

    The early shows were fun to do and opened up quite a few other doors for us at the time. More and more, we were able to move from doing pub dates and on to the larger audiences found in arenas, halls, military bases, Winnipeg venues and summer tours. CKX started to put more time and money into the shows so that there was a marked improvement in the sets, production, announcing, guests, etc.

    Over the years we have worked quite a variety of television shows and many of them we have stored in our extensive audio and video tape archives - a great memento.

    Hillman TV and Radio Appearances

  • Co-Op Neighbour Nights and Jamborees
  • Daily Noon Shows
  • Manitoba Exhibition Remotes
  • The Country Gentlemen Ranch House
  • The Western Union weekly show
  • Guest Ranch
  • Featured entertainers in Manitoba political rallies
  • Russ Gurr Specials
  • The first live colour broadcast from the CKX studios
  • CKX-TV Anniversary Specials
  • Telethons: Manitoba and Saskatchewan
  • CBC National coverage on our large "Indie" catalogue
  • Numerous Opry North live performances on national network
  • Winnipeg and national coverage on our winning of the Entertainers of the Year Award
  • Performers and presenters in the MACA Country Music Awards shows
  • Canada's First Video Album
  • CBC Network TV shows culled from Country Music Week performances
  • A Boggy Creek Mountain Music special where we had Dick Damron & Family Brown as our guests
  • A Brandon Tonight Show with Colonel Alex Matheson in the Johnny Carson seat
  • Bill and Sue-On Hillman TV specials where we featured songs from our On Tour In England album
  • A variety of radio AM and FM shows on local, network on Canada, US, UK and European stations
  • Performed "Lady Luck" on Saturday Night Wrestling
  • A twice weekly show on CKLQ where we featured shows from our collection of Classic Radio dramas & comedies
  • A daily morning show on FM radio
  • Television and radio commercials for hotels, fairs, car dealers, restaurants, grain companies, chemical companies, etc.
  • Countless interviews on CBC, CKX, CKLQ, CKDM, and stations across Canada during our summer tours
  • BBC England half hour interview and spot on the BBC Night News

Bill with Telecaster - Sue-On with Hohner PianetSue-On adding a bit of percussionClose-up of Bill Tex HillmanBarry Forman: bass - Jake Kroeger: rhythm - Sue-On:vocals - Bill: lead guitar
Bill coaxing out steel sounds with home-made B bender
Jake - Barry - John - Sue-On - Bill
Guest, Ray Power and Jake KroegerJohn Skinner







Western Union T.V. Show Script
Late '60s
Theme                                    All
You Were On My Mind        Bill and Sue-On (Bill Intro)
Row Row Row                     Jake (Vocal)
Little Brown Jug                    Barry (Fiddle)
Sugarfoot Rag                        Bill (Guitar)
Guest Spot - Rick Leitch - Singer
Try A Little Kindness              Jake (Vocal) Bill Intro
Crazy                                      Sue-On (Vocal) Bill Break
Guest - Rick Leitch
Fiddle Number                        Barry (Fiddle)
Break My Mind                       Bill (Vocal)

Dedicate one of Sue-On's numbers to Debbie Dagg - Killarney
Dedicate Sugarfoot Rag to Harry Beaman
Plugs: 
Rivers Alexandra Gordon Hotel this Wed and Friday evening and Saturday afternoon
Hamiota Hotel - This Saturday evening
CFB Rivers Corporals Club - Saturday Feb. 28  Show and Dance
Tentella   Sask.   Friday  March 6 - Dance

WESTERN UNION T.V. PROGRAM 
NOVEMBER 24, 1969

Theme                                    All
     Barry brings on commercial

     Bill introduces
     Sue-On gives piano intro
Yakety Axe                            Bill instrumenta guitar
    Barry introduces Sue-On who dedicates her number
All The Time                            Sue-On vocal
    Bill and Sue-On introduce next number
Crackerjack Polka                    Barry instrumental accordion

    Barry and Jake on introduction
Games People Play                    Jake vocal - Bill intro
    Bill introduces guest
Guest Spot
    Barry introduces Bill's number
Since I Met You Baby                            Bill intro - vocal - break

     Jake and Bill on introduction
Wedding Bells                                        Jake vocal   Bill break
    Barry introduces guest
Guest Spot
    Bill introduces Barry's number
Twilight Waltz                                           Barry violin
    Barry introduces Sue-On and Bill
This Land Is Your Land                            Sue-On and Bill vocal
    Barry Sign-Off and Theme


 
Western Union TV Show
Guest Ranch
Late '60s (1969?)

Theme
Tammy                                Vocal Sue-On
I Remember You                  Vocal Jake
Fiddle Number                     Fiddle Barry

Guests   Murielle & Elinor Northcot - Muddy Mississippi Line
Hideaway-Louie (From the Album)    Guitar Bill
Spiritual Medley                    Vocal  Sue-On & Bill

Guests                                    Please Release Me
Blue Canadian Rockies            Vocal  Barry and Jake
Dock of the Bay                        Vocal Jake
Reuben James                            Vocal Bill

Plug: Hotel on Saturday
Thank the Western Union, Northcott Sisters and you for joining us on the Guest Ranch


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