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Leisa Way and the Wayward Wind Band to bring Opry Gold to Theatre Orangeville

June 13, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

At last, the hit music of the Queens and Kings of Country music is coming to town. There is real excitement about Leisa Way’s upcoming Opry Gold as “an add-on concert presentation” from June 25 to 27 at Theatre Orangeville.

Ms. Way told the Citizen in a recent telephone interview that Theatre Orangeville has presented all of her other 11 concerts, plus a Christmas show on the main stage, over the years of her writing and performing them. Three of her original concerts at Theatre Orangeville were World Premiers. However, this is the first time she has come with Opry Gold, for which she is again Creator, Producer and Performer.

Four new band members are joining her Wayward Wind Band this time around and she is very enthusiastic to note how young and talented and “clued-in” they are about the music and the nuances it demands.

“They are just so talented,” she said. “You have a smile on your face as you watch them – watching that young talent work when they’re so happy to do it. It’s really rejuvenating for others.

With Bruce Ley on piano, guitar, vocals, and arrangements, and Don Reid on drums and vocals, her new band members include Brant Garratton guitar and lead vocals. Brant joined Ms. Way for Early Morning Rain and Opry Gold in 2023; he sings with the band Duke Street Turnaround, and is a flat-picking guitarist, in the style of Tony Rice.

Jack Gaughan on lead guitar and lead vocals is from Huntsville. A video of him playing guitar went viral when he was only 12; he attended the Humber College Jazz program. Recently, he has learned three of Ms. Way’s concerts and will join her in Early Morning Rain in the fall.

Al Braatz on bass and lead vocals was a musician and lead actor in the film ‘That is All’, winner of a best feature film at the Toronto Independent Film Festival in 2019; this year in June, a short film Al produced is debuting at a Hollywood film festival.

Alex George on fiddle and mandolin is from the Ottawa area. He has played with Natalie McMaster and is also a member of the band Duke Street Turnaround. He graduated from the Humber College Music Program in 2023.

Her long-time friend, Bruce Ley who has travelled with Leisa Way and her concerts for years, likes them too. She related his comments about them as “These guys are so talented, we don’t have to tell them anything. They have a natural instinct to just nail it.”

“Seriously,” she added, “either they’re genius or they did their homework about country. They have made our job in early rehearsals so much easier.”

These four players, all under 30, “never look at their phones.” 

“They are such a joy,” she praised them. “They’re wonderful human beings. How we magically have become a family so quickly – you’d think they’ve been playing together for ages.”

She told us about Bruce Ley, that he is always calm and ready to arrange the music exactly as she means it, commenting that he is her “Zen Master.”

Even with so much great music to his credit, over years of writing and arranging, Mr. Ley is still ready to try other things, minding the mantra of ‘You need stay open to new ideas.’

Jack suggested they do Achy Breaky Heart, first performed seven years ago.

Mr. Ley’s fresh arrangement made it “feel brand new again,” she said. 

Audiences are clearly in for a considerable treat. Opry Gold is coming to us as the Grand Ole Opry turns 99 years old. It continues to broadcast all over the world.

The acoustic part of Ms. Way’s Opry Gold concert is wonderful for its author. It gives her the chance to see her audiences enjoy it all so much. They will feel they are getting to know this “family” of musicians, and discovering truly great talent.

Completely comfortable with who they are to the audience, these young musicians are looking to put something good out to the world. It is who they are, and that is quite engaging to the audience.

“Country seems to touch the hearts of everybody,” she ventured. “The younger people will come, saying, ‘I didn’t know I knew so many of these songs.’ These guys just shine… they are passionate about the music.”

For their own sakes too, Ms. Way is happy these four talented young men are touring with her, playing the concerts, ready to go with this wonderful experience. To not know and then learn.

She wonders what is next for them, who also play and write their own music. Until they move on, she is so happy to have them rocking the houses with this Opry Gold concert of hers, coming to Theatre Orangeville from June 25 to 27.

For details and tickets, go to or call the Box Office at 519-342-3423.

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