When word was recently received that The Beetles could not perform in Souris this month due to illness of one of the performers, the members of Souris District Arts Council put their heads together to determine who they could bring to the community for its final concert in this season’s performance series.
The name that came to the top of the list was Mark Humphries, who performed with his big band in Virden and Reston.
Humphries is originally from Yorkshire, England. His father toured the world as a multi-instrumental comedic entertainer under the name of Dick Van Winkle. Growing up in a musical family, Humphries’ interest in comedy and swing music began at the age of 13 when his trumpet teacher allowed him to sit in with a local swing band called Sounds 40. This eventually led him to performing with one of the country’s premier big bands, The Syd Lawrence Orchestra.
The gift of music and comedy opened many doors. Musical directing and producing musical shows are his second passions. During the early 1990s he would sometimes produce and direct up to seven shows a year. During a show rehearsal, he met his wife Jill at her family farm and riding school. After happily marrying, Humphries joined his wife’s family business and together they developed the farm into a zoo and college site. The Mark Humphries Orchestra was formed back in 1987 and toured the United Kingdom, until the couple decided to immigrate to Canada in 2008 with their family. The music and equipment was brought along out of sentiment, and was not expected to be used again.
Humphries now owns Westwood Ranch Garden Centre in Elkhorn, with a collection of exotic animals for people to visit. Today, the one-man show proudly recreates parts of his father’s variety act with his own, leaving audiences chuckling. He also fronts the Canadian version of the Mark Humphries Orchestra. His son Thomas is the sound and light technical producer, and his daughter Jess keeps him in line as his personal agent and secretary.
Souris District Arts Council is happy to bring Humphries to the Souris-Glenwood Community Hall on April 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $20 by contacting Sharon at 204-483-2001.
» The Brandon Sun