Lacombians won’t want to miss one-man band powerhouse Flashback Freddy this month as part of the Music in the Park series on Aug. 24.
The performance, which is presented by the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre, kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at the Lacombe Memorial Centre’s Echo Stage.
Flashback Freddy (Fred Wortley) has had quite the year, having had a heart attack last summer not to mention dealing with all the challenges of the pandemic and how that impacted him as an artist, too.
“The more I think of it, the more I feel kind of blessed to be around still,” he said, adding how wonderful his medical team was from day one. “I have nothing but love for those folks!
“It makes you re-assess your whole life, really. My primary thought was that I want to be around for my wife Karen – I want to spend a whole lot more years with her because she’s such an amazing person!
“Another thing that was paramount in my mind was that I want to keep playing my music. I don’t want it to end yet! I have a theory that Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash and some of the boys up there maybe put in a word for me saying ’ This old guy is trying to learn our songs – leave him down there for a while,” he added with a laugh.
Wortley indeed has a passion for the classic tunes from those golden years of music.
“My whole thing is to not re-invent the wheel but to keep those original songs to as close as I can duplicate them – the way they were. If someone says, ‘Wow – that sounded like Buddy Holly’, I can consider it mission accomplished!”
His passion for music was sparked early.
He picked up a guitar that was an old beater of his dad’s when he was about 10 or 11 years old back in Nova Scotia.
“I think I was programmed to do music at an early age,” he said. “I didn’t end up doing it for a living, but now I’m living my dream!”
As to his roots, he grew up listening to legends like Elvis, Buddy Holly and The Platters.
Originally from Toronto, he would go on to work in the logging industry for nearly four decades.
But music was always in his heart.
“I would take my guitar to logging camps and play for the guys over a beer kind-of-thing,” he recalls.
“I also used to play a lot of folk music – Gordon Lightfoot, Cat Stevens – but I had this burning desire for the old rock and roll.”
He retired from logging and was sitting in his kitchen one day with his acoustic guitar playing some old rock.
His wife looked over at him and said, ‘You’re not Fred – you are Flashback Freddy’. Thus the moniker and a newfound line of work.
From there, he figured out the world of backtracks.
They are custom-made and professionally done, so he just adds guitar and his voice and the sound is complete.
Audiences have certainly come to love his unique style and passion for classic hits.
For Wortley, the tunes from that era are just timeless.
“It’s from an era where the world wasn’t totally innocent, but it was more innocent than it is today,” he explained.
“When Chuck Berry talked about cool cars, dating and dancing – young people expressing themselves and having fun – all of those things just turn my crank,” he said.
”The lyrics can be kind of corny but the tunes (are amazing) – it just all works for me. I love playing it at seniors’ homes and seeing the looks on residents’ faces when I play a tune that was maybe a really important one in their lives. It’s just total joy!”
He also sees young folks at his shows who are really enjoying the tunes, and that’s great to see too.
“I think to myself, okay, they get it!”
‘Music in the Park’ wraps up Aug. 31 with a performance from Tap 9.