For the last 17 years, Pat Braden has been on a journey.
The Yellowknife music legend began compiling Musicians of the Midnight Sun — a website and audio documentary series looking back at Northwest Territories musicians from the 1950s to 1970s — in 2003.
Now, 30 episodes in, Braden isn’t finished with the series, but he is taking time to reflect on his accomplishment.
“Enormously gratifying,” he said. “I described this project as … this is on my bucket list, this is going to get done, one way or another. And so for me, it’s just been something that I’ve always wanted to do, is pay homage to that generation of musicians that came before me.”
Though Braden knew many of his subjects personally, he says that profiling many of his own musical inspirations has given him “a lot deeper insight” into their lives and work.
He is … a real powerhouse of dedication.– John Tees
“It started out as a very personal kind of journey that way,” said Braden. “And so here I am, looking forward, but also looking back to see what I’ve done, and what’s been done up here, and I just thought that time, and those musicians, as well, were definitely worth[y] of documenting and raising awareness for people.”
Braden’s documentaries have been airing on Tuesdays on CBC’s The Trailbreaker on a semi-regular basis since 2018. This past week, host Loren McGinnis and producer Peter Sheldon flipped the script on him, having local musicians reflect on his life and work in a surprise tribute.
“Pat is one of the best bass players around,” said George Mandeville. “His best contributions to musicians and the music community is his support and encouragement, and sharing of his talents. I admire his personal qualities and I consider him a valued friend.”
“Pat surely deserves a lot of accolades for his work on this project. He is a great guy with a wonderful personality, quiet and reserved but a real powerhouse of dedication,” said John Tees, the 30th musician profiled in Braden’s series.
“We often forget we’re part of a collective history,” said singer Leela Gilday. “I think it’s a really huge accomplishment that he’s dedicated his time to. And I’m just really proud.”
As for the series, Braden says he isn’t finished.
Though his initial goal was to release 30 profiles, he says he’ll be adding additional interviews to his website, and publishing his first series as a podcast. He’ll also continue in his musical career, “sharing the stage with local and touring musicians in the days to come.”