Rick Charbonneau
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Rick Charbonneau


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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Back to the water 2003
Man Who Walks by Moonlight 2007



'Old Gus' from the 'Back to the Water' cd of 2003 made the final cut of the top five songs about Northern Ontario on Dan Lassards CBC Sudbury afternoon radio show.

That song describes legendary trapper and guide August Stam, and it delivers the powerful life message: “Stack your woodpile high, you will survive!”.

On Rick's new cd 'Man-Who-Walks-By-Moonlight' a native shaman, Twabinisay is also brought back to life with the words: “Through the forest, he ran like a deer...gave thanks to his Manitou”.

Charbonneau means dark waters. It is in these dark waters where the fish are sometimes found. This is also where the mystery is. Rick's songs come from these pools. The ideas are brought to the surface, then released. Listen to them a second or third time and you will begin to appreciate what it means to live and thrive in Northern Ontario.

Rick Charbonneau was born in 1951, in Sudbury, Ontario. He spent much of his early summers near Foleyet where both sides of his ancestral family are from. They were trappers and guides, fisherman and foragers who smelled of woodsmoke and maple syrup. The sound of the accordion and piano around the wood stove are among his earliest memories. Rick's voice and guitar reflect upon that northern landscape and those who dwell there.

When he sings, “the sand hills are calling/how I love that melody” or “Seventeen lakes on his trap line/giant trees of birch and pine”, you realize this is not second hand information we are getting, but a witness to the mystic realm.

Rick's family moved on to Wawa in 1963 just as the Trans-Canada highway was linking the country together. But it was the lore and lure of Superior's haunted shore that made the deepest impression on him. He soon followed then Prime Minister Trudeau's advice for young Canadians to see their own country, as he traveled out to Vancouver. En route he honed his carpentry skills, helping construct geodesic domes for a youth hostel. That voyage of 1970's discovery eventually took him to London, Ontario. A riverboat gig on the Thames river led to the formation of the “Endangered Species”. This eclectic band took its cue from the times and it’s name, playing their music before it disappeared forever!

The magnetic pull of the north finally exerted itself however, bringing Rick to the Goulais River Valley in the 1980s. Living here under the powerful nearby influence of Lake Superior, Rick renewed his musical connection with the land and the water. With friends from the surrounding backcountry , he formed the band Permafrost giving his own songs a new pulse and verve.

Permafrost opened for the Iowa singer-songwriter, Greg Brown in Traverse City in 1993. Greg remains a strong influence as does Willie P. Bennet, Fred Eaglesmith and James Gordon who produced the 'Back to the Water' cd in Guelph.