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Song

Singer-songwriter Bernie Gilmore of Strathroy has teamed up with fellow musicians, singers and for one song, the students of Centennial Elementary School to produce Oil Boom, a CD of 10 original oil history songs.

Hard Oil CD cover

Oil Boom was launched as part of the 2008 celebrations for the 150th anniversary of oil in Lambton County. The modern oil industry was created in Oil Springs, Ontario in 1858 when James Miller Williams refined oil from North America’s first dug well.

This is a CD like no other. The song Jerker Line Breakdown, for instance, uses the steady beat of an oil field rig to lead the song’s momentum. Another song, The Oil We Have Today, features students from Centennial Public School singing and they also wrote the lyrics. About 20 students from Mrs. Carol Andrew’s class participated in the music composing event at The Oil Museum of Canada in Oil Springs.

Another unique song, Edna/Henry, uses the actual letters that young John Henry Fairbank and his wife Edna exchanged in the 1860s when he was begging her to join him in Oil Springs. At the time of these letters, Fairbank was a struggling oil man, not the oil baron and entrepreneur he later became. The letters have been kept by the Fairbank family. The Edna/Henry song was performed by their great-grandchildren, Charlie and Sylvia Fairbank, at the Back to the Future oil history conference in May and drew enthusiastic responses from the Americans, Albertans and Ontario delegates. Gilmore performed a number of songs from the CD that night.

For Gilmore, a folk/roots performer, “Oil Boom” is his second full length CD, a selection of which was first performed in May at the official unveiling of the new national stamp commemorating the Oil Springs oil pioneers that was held at The Oil Museum of Canada. Gilmore and the Centennial students are booked to sing at the August 9 celebrations in Oil Springs as well.

Bernie Gilmore

All the songs on Oil Boom have been put together by Gilmore with the exception of the song Nitroglycerin, written by Alex Sinclair.

Gilmore was first approached about the CD project by Robert Tremain, curator of Lambton Museums. “It seemed my music would lend itself to some good stories,” says Gilmore. “I really got hooked on the idea when I met Charlie Fairbank and walked around his oil field. We stopped at a spot and could hear the jerker line as well as the big wheels of rig. It’s so rhythmical, like a kind of ancient song. It was great to include those sounds in Jerker Line Breakdown.”

Tremain is clearly pleased with the music and also the stories in the songs. "Bernie Gilmore helps us to celebrate our proud oil heritage in song and verse...he brings to life the early miners of oil, their discoveries and their frustrations."

Lambton County’s colourful oil history is being celebrated on DVD, in four plays, books lots of special tours and now a musical CD with original songs.

The CD retails for $16 plus tax and will be available at The Oil Museum of Canada. Purchases can be made through an order form available on the offical website.

For more information on this release, contact Pat McGee at pat.mcgee@ciaccess.com

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