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The Pig and Whistle: Setting the Stage for Canadian Talent

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Jon Hansen

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Beginning on CTV in 1967 and running for 10 years, The Pig & Whistle was Canadian commercial television's first homegrown hit. Along with programs like Don Messer's Jubilee, Juliette and Stars on Ice, it was popular, family friendly variety, a genre that dominated the early days of Canadian entertainment television. Filmed on a set built to resemble a traditional English Pub, the series featured a variety of traditional Canadian, British and Irish music-hall style entertainment, including singing barmaid Kay Turner, leather-lunged host John Hewer and a studio audience bussed each week to a cavernous studio on the fringe of Toronto. The show delighted viewers with its unabashed Britishness, which set it apart from U.S. television programs. What made the Pig and Whistle special was the fact that its comfy setting of a neighborhood pub, where good friends could meet to share a laugh and a pint, was also a showcase for emerging Canadian talent such as the Irish Rovers, The Peaches and of course the Carlton Showband. Needless to say when I was approached to host a Pig and Whistle Tribute Series, with the objective of providing Canadian-based talent of a similar, yet modern genre with a venue that had long since vanished with the advent of Satellite TV and the emerging world of social media, I thought why not! So on November 28th I had the pleasure of attending a Pig and Whistle type pub to hear the musical sentiments of John Wright. Wright whose story and journey while being similar to many who leave their hearts exposed on the stage of previously unknown yet welcoming venues across the country, is nonetheless unique. Especially when he relates the story of using the guitar strap from a friend and fellow musician who once shared the stage with him but has since passed away. Well today, I am pleased to welcome John Wright to our show.

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