Smilin' Johnnie is not your average country singer. He was never mesmerized by
Nashville. 'New country' sounds of Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Shania Twain
never turned him on. Consequently, big bucks never flowed into his bankbook.
However, he's made a living from country music all his life. He's over 80 and
has been on the road for more than 60 years. And he's still traveling, having
covered more than seven million miles back and forth across Canada from his
Saskatchewan home Eight Miles North and One Mile East of Wroxton. He's played
most Indian reserves and many Inuit communities all over Canada, often traveling
to remote places in the far north without any money for food, let alone the
chartered aircraft he has to use. He pays for the aircraft on the way back
when he's been paid for his shows. He and his wife, Eleanor Dahl, his singing
partner and business partner, often leave home with only a few bookings and
add shows along the way to pay for the trip.
He's done as many as three two-hour shows a day. Once, he arrived at a school
at 7 a.m., rang the bell and many in the community got out of bed to watch his
impromptu show. Today he still plays his traditional country music at Indian
and Inuit communities. Many of his shows are at senior citizens clubs where
afternoon shows for 50 or 100 people are the norm.
Smilin' Johnnie has never sought the big-time. He's happy living in a house
without insulation and indoor plumbing and by anyone's terms would qualify
as a character. He loves his life and you'll admire his entrepreneurial
tenacity . . . and wish you could be like him when you're over 80 years old.
About the Author
Smilin' Johnnie has been entertaining Canadians for more than 60 years.
His traditional country and western music has taken him all across Canada,
covering seven million miles by all modes of transport. For the past 46 years
he has been accompanied by Eleanor Dahl, who is his stage partner as well
as his wife. They have dozens of tapes and CDs recorded in the basement
of their bungalow near Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Most of them are songs
they have written - Smilin' Johnnie writes the lyrics, Eleanor the music.