Prairie Joe: Not just any old Joe any more

Oak Lake Band Nominated for Gospel Music Awards

A family band from Oak Lake that few people outside the community knew about two years ago has been nominated for two Canadian music awards.

Prairie Joe was nominated by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) of Canada in two categories: Best Album of the Year and Best New Artist of the Year.

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“Absolutely excited and elated!”

Russell Thiessen is spokesperson for the band and one of four Thiessen brothers in the group.

He says the Thiessens had been playing gigs four or five years as a family band before they officially became Prairie Joe in 2015. They play country gospel seasoned with a playful attitude, clean lyrics and tight harmonies.

Russell said, “As the band developed and the need came up for better quality music and the gigs we got became more formal, we worked a lot harder on our harmonizing.”

The Good Life

The video that accompanies their single The Good Life was filmed in a field showing the brothers frolicking in the snow together with cameo appearances from a good-natured horse.

“I’m a farmer,” says Russell. “I thought at this stage of my life I’d be enjoying the livestock, breaking horses, and getting my grain off. I’ve always enjoyed music but never strived hard for it.”

The self-taught musicians were involved in church music growing up, so Russell says it was “just natural” to keep performing as adults even though they all have day jobs.

Russell is a farmer, Michael works for the Fort la Bosse School Division, Robert does construction work and Joe is a dentist in Brandon.

Their piano player Curtis Szakacs is the only non-family member and the only one who makes a living with his music. But that could change.

“What if?”

Russell says the brothers have discussed the “what if” question. What if this music thing takes off, as it appears to be doing for Prairie Joe?

“We are open to the idea (of playing music full time) if it looks like it will meet our financial needs. Nobody gets rich in the music biz unless they get well known. Our goal isn’t to become rich. But our goal is to provide a service that’s needed.”

He feels they got a clear message that their service IS needed.

“Six or seven years ago, I was on the board of Christian Cowboys. We were planning summer music shows at cowboy churches and couldn’t find a group to play one Sunday. I offered to talk to my brothers. We knew how to sing and Robert could play guitar.

“That’s when things started to unfold. There was a need for clean, family-oriented shows and we filled it.”

GMA Awards in Jan.

For now, the band is busy performing across Manitoba and Saskatchewan, riding the wave to see where it takes them.

The next stop is the Gospel Music Covenant Awards Jan. 27, 2018 in Edmonton. All five bandmates plan to be there and hope to hear their names called out.

But even if they don’t win, the exposure will open doors to more opportunities, says Russell.

“The nomination validates Prairie Joe as a band of quality, like a certificate of recognition saying these guys are for real, they provide good entertainment and are fun to be with.”

You can see their first video The Good Life on YouTube.

© Virden Empire-Advance