So what do you do when the iconic singer your band has supported for the past 55 years, succumbs to health issues and dies? Well, if you are the long-serving backing band for Gordon Lightfoot, you make a commitment to continue his legacy, draft in a new vocalist and prepare to re-launch as The Lightfoot Band.
Bassist Rick Haynes, who had worked with Lightfoot since 1968, drummer Barry Keene, keyboardist Mike Heffernan and guitarist Carter Lancaster have served as a constant support group for Lightfoot and when he died May 1st of this year, they had a major decision to make.
“We had not discussed anything with Gordon about carrying on playing before he died, but when he did, after recovering from that initial shock, we decided why not continue his legacy,” noted Haynes. “We know his music, we are his legitimate band and we believe in the legacy of his songs. All four of us feel his songs set a gold standard that we want to continue promoting.”
Of course, the biggest challenge facing the band was to find a replacement for Lightfoot and they believe they have found him in the form of Andy Mauck. “Andy know about 150 of Gordon’s songs, the biggest question would be how he fitted in with the rest of the band but so far the rehearsals have gone really well.”
Haynes said there will be no attempt for Mauck to try to duplicate Gordon, either with his voice or mannerisms, but to purely present the legacy of his music.
“It was tough going towards the end with Gordon,” allowed Haynes. “He was not in good health, we had to cancel a number of shows and tours and there were certain songs he couldn’t sing anymore, he hadn’t sang “The Canadian Railroad Trilogy” in years. He also had a problem with high altitude, we couldn’t play places like Colorado and even shows in Calgary and Edmonton proved to be a challenge. He had problems breathing and sometimes had to sit down on stage.”
Haynes does not see The Lightfoot Band as just another tribute band but one that comes by their legitimacy honestly. With Mauck now fronting the group, they can tackle songs which Lightfoot found challenging in his later years, they can also connect with their audience in a unique way by telling stories about his material and spin anecdotes about all of those years on the road with a Canadian legend.
“One thing I can promise is that we will not present a sub-standard show,” Haynes allowed. “We are going to put on an authentic performance that will showcase Gordon’s classic material.
The Lightfoot Band will debut at Toronto’s legendary El Mocambo Tavern on Saturday January 27h. Tickets are available at the venue.
Watch for future touring dates in 2024!