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Wardens deliver 100 per cent original Rocky Mountain culture­

The Wardens play Friday, Aug. 23 at the Legion at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.

The Wardens play June 30 at the Legion. Tickets are $15.

Combining their love of country music and their collective experience protecting Canada’s national parks, The Wardens, have carved out a niche for themselves in an otherwise saturated music market.

The trio from Banff spent more than 30 years working as park wardens across the country, including Jasper National Park, before becoming a band and sharing their stories through music.

With a new record in the works, the band has a busy summer ahead, with two shows scheduled in Jasper.

On June 30, the band will hit centre stage at the Jasper Legion, followed by a second show in September during the Jasper Music Folk Festival.

“It’s a really special occasion when we play at the Legion,” said Bradley Bischoff, who started his career as a park warden in Jasper in 1981.

“Jasper really has something that I don’t see in Banff or in other national park communities when we travel around; Jasper is so unique and they have such a connection with what we do in our band that it’s very rewarding for us.”

Both Bischoff and Scott Ward, who started his career in Banff in 1969, spent a significant part of their careers working in the old warden service before it morphed into what it is today.

“In our time we worked in the true-man-for-the-mountains era when park wardens were law enforcement officers, we were on the rescues, we did the public safety and we did all the resource management,” said Bischoff, explaining nowadays there are specialists who are responsible for all those things.

“It’s all changed now, but it was such a fantastic career for us serving Canadians and being part of that group of men and women that were the true park warden service that did all of those great jobs in the organization.”

Not to be forgotten, Ray Schmidt, the third member and bass player of their band, started his career with Parks Canada in 2001 as a dispatcher for the Banff, Yoho and Kootenay warden service. He has since worked for a variety of positions including trail crew, fire crew and communications. He is currently the new media specialist for Banff National Park.

Together all three men have more than 65 years of collective experience protecting Canada’s national parks and more than enough material to write their music.

The band expects to drop its third album next spring, but will showcase a lot of its new material at the Jasper Royal Canadian Legion on June 30.

“I think we’re in our own genre,” said Bischoff. “We’re singers and songwriters, but it’s 100 per cent original Rocky Mountain culture and that’s all that we do.

“Staying true to our roots has got us to where we are today.”

Accompanying their songs, the band has put together a slideshow that is synced to their music and showcases the beauty of the Canada’s mountain parks.

“It’s just a fantastic piece of theatre and a lovely performance,” said Bischoff.

Besides playing in Jasper, the band will also be playing at the Calgary Stampede on July 4 and will be opening for Blue Rodeo at the Banff Centre the following night.

Paul Clarke

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