Kidd Baker was born in Tillie, New Brunswick, Canada. The story goes that he was given his
first guitar when he was just a lad of nine years old. From that point on, music was a part
of his life.
When he was fifteen, he entered an amateur contest that was being held at a local theatre.
He chose to do "Swiss Moonlight Lullaby"; it won him first prize and he continued to feature
the song in his shows.
The theatre owner was impressed enough with this new talent that he told him to form his own
band and he would give him a job. And that he did. He formed and all-female band. He billed
himself then as Yodelin' Kidd Baker and His Texas Cowgirls". The band became quite popular and
was doing the usual personal appearances you might expect of that era - public dances, parties,
exhibitions and the like. This appears to be the early to mid-1930s.
But along about 1938, things were getting lean money wise not only for Kidd, but many who
were making their way through the depression of that era. He moved to Maine and was said
to have found a job picking potatoes.
But he never gave up on his musical endeavors. He found another amateur show and his efforts
resulted in a radio program over radio station CFNB in Fredericton, New Brunswock. He reorganized
his band and was doing personal appearances within the listening range of the station.
In 1939, he married his wife, Ada.
In 1955, he had embarked on a western tour of Canada, doing personal appearances. But a 1955 article
indicated that he had to cancel the trip due to health problems that left him out of commission for about
a month. The group had left Kitchener around May 1, 1955 and returned home in November.
In 1956, our research indicates he was doing a television show in Saint John, New Brunswick.
We learn in an article about Canadian performer Jimmy James that he was a part of the Kidd Baker
show and left them in 1955. He played with the group as they toured across the wide expanse of Canada,
playing on numerous radio stations and the Saturday Night Jamboree that originated from Fredericton,
New Brunswick. Jimmy left to form his own band.
In 1957, Herb Petrie was doing the square dancing calls for Kidd's band every Friday night
at the Wagon Wheel in Stratford. And on Saturday nights, Herb was with the Pine River Troubadours.
Kidd also had a television show on CKCO-TV in Kitchener.
ONe of the featured members of the Pine Ridge Mountain Boys around 1957 was a nineteen year old
named Freddie McKenna from Nashwaaksis, near Fredericton. Freddie was blind since birth but one article
says he was '...practically a complete show by himself.'. He played the fiddle 'southern style' to get
the crowd going and played the guitar and did vocals as well. But he had a different way of playing the
fiddle and guitar by placing his hand over the fingerboard area rather than under it. He gained a lot
of admiration from the local musicians. Freddie was a bit humble about the attention he got and noted,
"I've never seen a guitar played any other way."
By 1958, Kidd had retired from show business according to an article in Country & Western Jamboree.
But he still had a desire to help younger artists get noticed. In 1958, it was reported that
Kidd had organized 25 towns in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Four amateur talent shows were
to be held. Three winners from the first three shows would compete against each other on the fourth show.
The 'grand finals' were to be held in Woodstock, New Brunswick in May of 1958. Some of the prizes the
winner would included a recording contract with the Quality record label, along with television and
radio appearances throughout Canada. A 1958 article indicated they had over 300 entries by the time
the article was written.
At the same time this contest was being announced, Kidd was based in Woodstock (about 60 miles north
of Fredericton), where he owned and operated one of the largest dance halls in Eastern Canada.
Timeline & Trivia Notes
Group Members circa 1952:
- Kidd Baker
- Bob Baker (brother), bass, guitar, comedian
- Fiddlin' Cye, fiddle
- Hank MacDonald, piano and guitar
- Paul Surette, steel guitar
- Hank Petrie, square dance caller
Credits & Sources
- Country Song Roundup; No. 20; October 1952; American Folk Publications, Inc.;
- Country Song Roundup; No. 28; January 1954; American Folk Publications, Inc.;
- Country Song Roundup; No. 29; February 1954; American Folk Publications, Inc.;
- Pickin' and Singin' News; January 15, 1955; 154 1/2 Eighth Ave North; Nashville, TN
- Country & Western Jamboree; May 1956; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL
- Country & Western Jamboree; June 1956; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL
- Folk & Country Songs; Vol. 1 No. 3; November 1956; American Folk Publications, Inc.;
- Country & Western Jamboree; September 1957; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL
- Country & Western Jamboree; Summer 1958; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL
- Country & Western Jamboree; Spring Yearbook 1958; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL