A Trip Down Memory Lane with Cliff Erickson

Written on August 1st, 2019

The singer with a long set list will be on
Grand Bend Beach August 14

For 47 years, Cliff Erickson has been singing and accompanying himself on his guitar in front of audiences. “I’ve never had a job,” he laughs, “This is the only way I’ve made my living since I was 19. Erickson realized early on that if he was serious about making a living this way, he’d have to do it on his own. Playing with a band would mean sharing the income, so performing solo allowed him to make it his career.
“I’ve been around the block, but I play the same 12-string guitar that I purchased in 1976,” he adds. Originally from Port Huron, Michigan, Erickson still makes that his home base. But for all 47 years, he’s been popular in southwestern Ontario, playing regularly in Sarnia and Petrolia, and travelling to the surrounding area, such as Forest or Grand Bend. He’s played in bars and clubs, as well as for conferences and parties.
He has toured the United States, often as a warm-up act for the likes of Ringo Starr, Kenny Rogers or The Beach Boys. In the 80s and 90s, he did the college and university circuit throughout Ontario and the U.S., but these days he’s more popular in gated communities for seniors. He travels between DelWebb communities from Texas to Florida. In the winter months, he can be found on cruise ships, sometimes in the Greek Isles but most often in the Caribbean. His loyal fans check his cruise schedule and join him. A travel agent in Chatham, Ontario arranges special cruises, just for Erickson’s large following where passengers get “Cruise with Cliff” t-shirts. “When I did my first cruise, they gave me a room with 100 seats, but they soon moved me into an 1100 seat theatre, which filled up night after night,” Erickson explains.
Erickson takes his audiences on a trip down memory lane with all the popular music from the 1950s through the 1980s. With his signature 12-string guitar, he can create the sound of a full band. He also enjoys telling stories and enthralling the audience with his banter, keeping them laughing with his own brand of humour.
Erickson will bring his talent for attracting crowds to Grand Bend’s main beach on August 14. The concert is part of the “Wednesdays’ Familiar Favourites” concert series, organized and presented by the West Coast Lions Club of Grand Bend. “We put bands on the stage playing music everyone knows and loves,” says organizer Mary Alderson. The concerts are held every other Wednesday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in July and August.
The West Coast Lions bring their popcorn cart to the concerts, selling bags of delicious, aromatic, freshly popped corn, with proceeds going to local community services or the Dog Guides Foundation.
The Lions have several reasons for organizing the concerts: They are a great outing for Grand Bend’s residents as well as cottagers and campers who spend their summers here. The concerts also offer an opportunity for area seniors to get out and socialize. Plus they serve as an economic development tool, attracting tourists to Grand Bend mid-week, which benefits the village’s restaurants, bars and pubs.
Alderson reminds concert-goers to bring their own lawn chairs as well as their wallets. “These are ‘Pay-What-You-Can’ concerts, so we hope everyone will contribute.” Lions Club members will be circulating before and after the concerts and during intermission, seeking donations in their colourful beach buckets.
While the ‘Pay-What-You-Can’ buckets are necessary to bring in top quality entertainment, the Lions Club is also grateful to their other sources of funding. Grants were received from the Cordelia Power Vibrancy Fund, the Municipality of Lambton Shores, Lambton Creative County Grant Program, and the Grand Bend Community Foundation.
In addition, there are Golden Sunset Sponsors – Grand Bend Legion Branch 498, Geo-Teck Heating & Cooling, Physiotherapy Alliance, and Tourism Sarnia-Lambton. The Silver Sparkling Lake Sponsor is Bluewater Windows and Doors, and the Bronze Sandy Shore Sponsors are Robert Q Travel, Denny’s Drive-In, Hoffman Funeral Home, UBU Fashions, Prosper’s Garage, Hair Bend’rs, Paddingtons Eatery & Ale House, The Iron Barn, and the Gallery on Main Street.
On July 31, concert goers enjoyed the sounds of The McCartney Years. Then on August 28, popular local band Monday@Mikes will return to the outdoor stage with their big beach party.
Parking is free on the beach after 7:00 p.m., and after 5:00 p.m. on Main Street, on weekdays.

 

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