The Peterborough Musicfest season opener will see The Spoons delve into a plate full of their hit songs

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Canadian new wave band The Spoons open the 35th season of Peterborough Musicfest with a Canada Day concert at Del Crary Park in downtown Peterborough on July 1, 2022. (Photo: Andrew MacNaughtan)

Proof of our love affair with the musical decade of the 1980s was clearly visible in the huge crowds that gathered at Del Crary Park over the past few summers.

Since 2016, the memories of big hair, fingerless gloves and shoulder pads came alive at the park when Peterborough Musicfest brought A Flock of Seagulls, Howard Jones, Starship, The Box and Platinum Blonde to the Fred Anderson Stage. With electronic drums and synthesized touches added to the mix, the 80s image was complete.

On Friday July 1 at Del Crary Park, the 80s vibe continues in spectacular fashion as The Spoons return to the Fred Anderson Stage to open the 35th season of Peterborough Musicfest. As has been the case since July 1987, admission to the 8 p.m. concert is free.

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Since last headlining The Spoons at Musicfest in August 2016, the quartet have released a new studio album, new day new worldas well as two compilation albums — Repeatable 1980-2020 and echoesthe latter seeing the profits benefit musicians and live music technicians struggling with financial losses.

But the band’s history dates back well beyond 1979 when, in Burlington, Gordon Deppe (vocals/guitar) and Sandy Horne (bass/vocals) teamed up with Brett Wickens (keyboards/synths) and Peter Shepherd (drums) . It was while eating alphabet soup at Wickens and thinking about possible group names that a light came to light – the group would be named after the utensil each was holding.

In the mid-1970s, 14-year-old Horne and 16-year-old Deppe met when they were members of the senior band at Nelson High School in Burlington, but it was on a group bus trip to another high school in Arnprior that fate intervened.

VIDEO: “Nova Heart” – The Spoons

In a April 2018 interview with Troy Bridgeman of Guelph News, Horne recounted planting the seeds of their more than 40-year collaboration.

“There were two acoustic guitars on the bus,” Horne recalled, adding, “I was playing with the girls up front and Gord was playing in the back and eventually the guitars came together.”

This encounter led Deppe to ask Horne to play bass for his band Impulse and later another band called Tryst. This led to the eventual formation of The Spoons.

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The Spoon’s debut album Stick Figure Quarter came out in 1981 but it was the 1982 follow-up album, Arias & Symphonies, which caught the band’s attention in the form of three Top 40 hits – “Nova Heart”, “Smiling In Winter” and the title track. Of local interest, the album was produced and mixed by John Punter, later longtime co-owner of Pig’s Ear Tavern on now closed Brock Street.

In 1983, fresh off a 1983 Juno Award nomination as Most Promising Group of the Year, The Spoons returned to the studio with Grammy Award-winning producer Niles Rodgers. The resulting album, Answerproduced the single “Old Emotions”.

The following year, Deppe wrote, produced and performed the drama’s soundtrack. Listen to the city. Two tracks from that album performed by The Spoons as a whole – “Romantic Traffic” and “Tell No Lies” – have peaked and are among their most well-known hits.

VIDEO: “Tell No Lies” – The Spoons

“Everyone thought we were from England because we looked like the British wave,” Deppe told Guelph Today.

“The song Nova Heart was groundbreaking for Canada and Romantic Traffic was featured on the very first episode of MuchMusic. There were a lot of premieres and having a bassist in the band certainly helped the image.

For her part, Horne recalls not being taken seriously at a time when female members of the group were somewhat rare.

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“People who hadn’t seen us perform live thought I was just a character and someone else was doing the recording,” Horne said. “I started wearing ballerina shoes and ballerina outfits. You want me to play this difficult instrument, I’m going to play it on my tiptoes. One of the funniest lines I heard was at Wasaga Beach. A guy said, “You know, you’re more than a tootsie roll. You’re a bass-playing tootsie roll.”

While the first half of the 1980s marked the band’s commercial high point, The Spoons remained productive. In 1986, the album Bridges over water was released followed by Vertigo Tango two years later. It was not until 2011 that new material was recorded for the album of Static transmission.

“In the early 1990s we were kind of low key and didn’t do a lot of shows because there was a shift towards grunge and heavier music,” Deppe said. “For a while we thought, well, I guess it’s over, and then in the mid-1990s it started picking up again and we were like, ‘What? How did it happen?'”

VIDEO: “Old Emotions” – Spoons

A number of band members have come and gone over the ensuing years – Wickens and Shepherd left before the recording of The Spoons’ debut album – but Deppe and Horne were the constant.

Scott MacDonald (keyboards) – who played on The Spoons’ 1988 album Vertigo Tango but then left – and Chris McNeill (drums) completes the current setup.

The Spoons’ Canada Day concert at Del Crary Park will be followed by a fireworks display over Little Lake presented by the Rotary Club of Peterborough.

Peterborough Musicfest presents 16 free concerts during its landmark 35th anniversary season, each held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings at Del Crary Park in downtown Peterborough.

Overseen by General Manager Tracey Randall and her staff, a Board of Directors and numerous volunteers, Peterborough Musicfest’s stated mission remains “to provide diverse and affordable live music to enrich the cultural and economic prosperity of our community”.

For more information on this concert or on the entire 2019 season, go to www.ptbomusicfest.ca or call the Peterborough Musicfest office at 705-755-1111.

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