And, here is what two of the young musicians have to say about Lew:

“Lew is an amazing guitar player and a lot of fun.” (Randy Collins)

“When I saw Lew play for the first time, I knew I wanted to pick up a guitar and play one also...Lew is a kind-hearted person who takes the time to sit down with me and go over the old Elvis songs.. he’s passing this music down to the younger generation. It’s great to hear the music he plays, instead of listening to it on a cd -- and to watch him play that guitar. He makes it look so easy. It’s great to play along with him...me on rhythm and Lew picking that guitar so fine! He’s just great! “ (Rod Hand)


This month’s column features a great rockabilly/rock ‘n’ roll guitarist and band, ETA singers, and tribute shows in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Canada’s easternmost border. Along with Elvis Fests taking place on the West Coast in Vancouver, and throughout Canada’s many provinces in between, we can truly say that Elvis, his music, tribute singers, and fans can be found in Canada “from sea to shining sea.” Read on!!


When I hear the term “rockabilly,” I think of Jackson, Tennessee -- home of the Rockabilly Fest and the late Carl Perkins. I also think of Memphis, Sun Studio, Elvis, and the musicians who were with him when he started out --Scotty and Bill, DJ Fontana, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, The Jordanaires. Other rockabilly artists of the past include Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Ritchie Valens, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Brenda Lee, and many, many others. At the end of the l950's, interest in rockabilly music faded, but started to come back in the late ‘70's with bands such as the Stray Cats contributing to its revival (Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats often performs with Scotty Moore and Brian Setzer won a Grammy award).

Now, the music is being enjoyed once again all over North America and around the world.....in places as diverse as Chile, Finland, and Japan. Many young musicians and some ETA’s, such as Travis LeDoyt are concentrating solely on the music of the rockabilly era. [For more information, check out the great site at www.rockabillyhall.com]

Thus, it was a nice turn of events recently to learn of a genuine Canadian rockabilly guitarist named Lew Skinner (aka the Scotty Moore of Newfoundland ) and his band, the Ducats.

Lew Skinner has played guitar in the style of Scotty Moore, James Burton, and Chet Atkins (as played on the original records) for over 40 years. He plays left hand lead guitar and is also a noted “lefty” guitar collector (details below). Lew is a real Elvis fan, and even worked in Nashville with Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana at Scotty Moore’s Music City Recorders studio.

I asked Lew for his recollections of working with Scotty and DJ, and he said, “I remember Scotty and DJ were real gentlemen and very professional musicians. They brought in another of my heroes, Pete Drake, when we decided to use a steel guitar. DJ kept the studio relaxed with a few comic remarks and his easy way of doing things. I do remember seeing Scotty’s Gibson Super 400 for real and it looked so big compared to the Epiphone I was using at the time..I had to get a Super 400 lefty after that. I remember Scotty being a very humble guy..he seemed surprised that I was so impressed being there with him. He is my greatest guitar hero.” (Note: One of Lew’s upcoming projects later this year is to record a guitar CD, on which there will be a tribute song for Scotty Moore).

And, great news! They also back Elvis entertainers at tribute shows...such as award-winning ETA Randy Collins. Randy, who was raised in Newfoundland, now lives in Ottawa, Ontario ( and those of us who have been to the Collingwood Elvis Fest in recent years will remember how impressed we were with Randy and his “gold lame” ‘50's Elvis).

In fact, there will be a big Elvis tribute show on August 23 and 24 at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland with Randy Collins performing as Elvis ‘57 and Elvis ‘68, backed by Lew Skinner and the Ducats. (Details below)

Two back-to-back similar shows at the Arts and Culture Centre last October (early Elvis and the Vegas years...with Randy Collins and “Newfoundland’s Elvis,” Gord Tracy, along with the Ducats) were instant sellouts ..... and this venue holds over 1,000 people!!!

Click here to hear "My Baby Left Me" with
Lew and the Ducats, and singer Randy Collins

Lew and the Ducats have quite a history. Based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, they have been playing rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll (and for a time country and bluegrass too) since l960 . In addition to working with Scotty and DJ, they have also worked with Bill Haley and the Comets, Little Richard, Chet Atkins, Freddy Fender, .and countless others. Over the years, they have recorded for RCA Victor and were the first “white” group to be offered a Motown contract. Former lead singer, Eddie Eastman, won three Juno awards (Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) and currently works out of Nashville... and, Minnie White, an honorary band member, was awarded the Canadian government’s prestigious “Order of Canada.” Lew and the Ducats have also performed at the Juno award ceremonies.

Lew, himself, is available for freelance, “fill in” or “emergency” work with Elvis tribute bands/Elvis shows, good old rock ‘n’ roll jams, or anything else..he loves the music and he loves to play his rockabilly guitar!! And Lew and the Ducats are still going strong as one of Canada’s best rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and Elvis tribute bands -- playing festivals, conventions, reunions, etc. The current band consists of a singer, lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drums, and “the best rock ‘n’ roll saxophone player in Canada.”

In addition, Lew is also a lefty guitar collector and operates a vintage instrument business in St. John’s, Newfoundland called Shane Music Inc. He buys, sells, and locates older guitars and gets calls from “lefties” all over the world. Lew’s customers have included Paul McCartney, Rick Neilson (Cheap Trick), Elliot Easton (Cars) and members of the Los Lobos band and the Mighty Ducks hockey team!

Lew has also developed quite a following of young musicians in St. John’s...who enjoy jamming with him and learning from him. As Lew says, “every time a young musician asks about old rock ‘n’ roll, country rock, or rockabilly music, I make an effort to talk the history, play the records, encourage them and teach them the guitar licks of Scotty, James Burton, Danny Gatton, Chet Atkins, etc. Some of them can play it very well at a young age, considering they were not born when this music was going strong. I don’t charge them a fee, as long as they show the interest and dedication to keeping the music alive. We have a lot of fun, for sure.”

Details:

Lew Skinner, The Ducats, & Shane Music Inc. (Vintage Instrument Store)
email: ducat@nf.sympatico.ca
Telephone: 709-754-0624
Fax: 709-754-0631



Elvis Tribute Show: August 23, 24
Elvis ‘57 and Elvis ‘68

Elvis Entertainer Randy Collins..with Lew Skinner and the Ducats
Arts & Culture Centre
St. John’s, Newfoundland

Box Office: 709-729-3900

Scotty Moore and Lew in Nashville

Singer Randy Collins

Lew jamming with musician Chris LeDrew