Showcase presents Eli Barsi in concert
By Judy Wells
Life is funny sometimes; you never know what might happen. For singer/songwriter Eli Barsi it meant a return visit to Deloraine to perform a concert in the Southwest Showcase series — as it turned out, it was exactly five years to the day. The scheduled performer was to be Lizzy Hoyt, unfortunately she had a death in the family. The good news was Lizzy’s good friend Eli Barsi was available to fill in, along with her husband John Cunningham and good friend Anthony Kelly.
“We’re very happy to be back in Deloraine for the Showcase. Wherever we go we feel the people are friends we just haven’t met yet,” said Barsi who grew up as a farm girl near Kennedy, Saskatchewan. She and husband John Cunningham make their home in Moosomin, SK and even though they find themselves performing mostly in the U.S. they are fiercely patriotic and have a passion for Canadiana music.
The concert definitely celebrated Canadiana music as the group performed Barsi’s original Canadian Air – about the wind in Canada, which is not always our friend, My Old Canadian Home written by Wilf Carter, Ian Tyson’s Four Strong Winds and Anne Murray’s huge hit Snowbird.
Barsi’s great love for Canada comes through in her songwriting with hits like Prairie Skies from her album Portrait of A Cowgirl. Her latest album (the 16th) was collaboration with her friend and poet Doris Daley — Once Upon The West. Barsi recalled growing up as a farm girl and the many fond memories of working with her dad. A song was formed around these memories and Barsi and company performed the beautiful Dancing With Dad and I See You Everywhere.
Barsi introduced fellow musician and friend Anthony Kelly of Rocanville, SK, who is the lead singer with the band Shifty Morgan. In honour of one of many musicians lost in 2017 Kelly sang a Don Williams’ hit — Lord I Hope this Day Is Good.
Yodeling is a big part of Barsi’s repertoire with such songs as Cowgirl and Riding Home To You.
“My mom has also been a big inspiration to me. She’s a community gal, volunteering and baking and all that people do in a small town. She was a schoolteacher in a one-room schoolhouse, teaching 25 kids from grades 1-8. She often played Johnny Cash records and we’d like to play one of her favourites Tennessee Flat Top Box. They continued with Merle Haggard’s That’s The Way Love Goes, Kathy Mattea’s 1985 hit 18 Wheels and A Dozen Roses, Juice Newton’s Ride Em Cowboy and Bonnie Riatt’s You Got It.
Anthony Kelly’s talents were showcased when he sang Darius Rucker’s 2013 megahit Wagon Wheel and John Cunningham’s vocals were showcased with Ghost Riders in the Sky.
Eli had some fun writing her hit song Screamin Jimmy about her tour bus and its engine. This song also features her amazing yodeling.
The concert concluded with a beautiful, soft and poignant version of Goodnight To The Trail, followed by a hearty standing ovation and encore.