It’s said “You can’t go home again”, yet this past Saturday evening well- known entertainer Kenny Hess proved you can come home again and perform for old friends and school buddies.
Kenny was well received by a crowd that had people who had only just heard of him and those he has known most of his life and those were obviously thrilled to gaze upon one of their own up on the stage belting out some familiar tunes as well as some of his own melodic, original songs.
Slated to begin at 9:00pm most of the crowd arrived well before that to look over and bid on silent action items, check out the cd selection and enjoy a cool drink.
When Kenny and his band walked on stage loud cheers emanated from the audience who were very eager to hear him perform and dance the night away to his pleasant, country sound.
A couple of months ago I found a message from Kenny asking me to call back. I did and in the conversation found that he wanted to come to Fernie, the place he regards as his home town, and do a charity event. He asked me for some ideas on what non-profits in town were in need and on mentioning Tom Uphill Manor he relayed a story to me that I found quite poignant. He said as a child of 12 or 13 he and a friend stole a fishing pole from a neighbour. They were found out and ordered to do community service.
“One of the hardest things I ever had to do was tell my dad what I had done,” Kenny said. He said he saw the pain of deep disappointment oh his dad’s face at his action and determined he wouldn’t ever do anything like that again.
He was sent to the Tom Uphill Home to fulfill his community service and while doing so sang, something he enjoyed doing since a small child. But on being heard he was soon recruited by a resident to sing for all of the people in the Home, something he ended up doing until his time was over and continued to do so periodically.
Although moved away years ago to pursue a musical career Kenny has never forgotten his time in Fernie. He has serious heart for this town and the people he knows, the ones he went to school with, the people he worked with and even those that were acquaintances.
He’s been pretty successful with his career winning several provincial country music awards for artist and song of the year, nominations to the Canadian Country Music awards, a prestigious Juno and this year he has received a nomination to the Canadian Country Music Awards for his annual Rockin’ River Festival held in Merritt in August that will feature Toby Keith, The Band Perry, Kacey Musgraves, Brett Kissel and the legendary Willie Nelson as well as many other well-known musicians.
Saturday evening during intermission seemed a grand reunion. People came from out of province to hear him perform and to have an opportunity to give him a hug and pose for a photo. A highlight of the evening was having Kenny and his daughter Becca who is a fabulous singer in her own right do a duet. The music went on well past the midnight hour as no one wanted the evening to end.
All proceeds will go towards the Tom Uphill Manor much needed renovations and the Hospital Foundation. If this proves successful Kenny hopes to do this on an annual basis.
Here is someone who doesn’t have to come back and do anything for the place he left behind but Kenny is one special person, he loves his family, his friends and this town, he still feels this is home and wants to contribute and those of us that know him love him for it and appreciate it greatly.
Thank you Kenny, you gave us a great evening of music, thank you to Sharon Ashmore, the Lions Club, and all of the people that volunteered that evening in so many ways. You are all so great, you make this town the wonderful place that it is, the place that Kenny wants to keep coming home to and that all people who have lived here for any period of time will always have a heart connection to.