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Nick Zoteck – Performer

Currently from Cherhill, AB
Interviewed March 8, 2014

Nick-Zoteck-modified cropped v sm

Nick was born and spent about seven years in the areas around Hamlin, AB, and Smokey Lake and then went to Lac la Biche. His grandfather was Romanian and his Grandmother was Ukranian. Nick speaks both Romanian and Ukranian. Nick’s memory goes back a long way. He even remembers his brother being born at the time when Nick was only three years old!

At about 11 years old, Nick really wanted to get a fiddle, but his grandfather, who he grew up with, felt uncomfortable about it for personal reasons, so Nick ended up getting a guitar. This is how he remembers it:

“I started trapping squirrels and weasels for the pelts so that I could make the money to buy the guitar. I worked hard, and my uncle agreed to go half with me. I remember when we got enough money together, it was ordered from Eaton’s where the train came from Regina and the sleigh came to Lac la Biche. After the guitar was ordered, it only took two weeks to come with the mail. That’s better than the mail usually is these days! It was a Palm Beach guitar, and I remember cutting up my fingers pretty good on the strings.”

An older Norwegian man and nearby neighbour was his mentor, and tutored him in timing and the finer points of playing. He learned so quickly that by the age of about 11 and a half, he was already performing at house dances.

Nick has never looked back since. Playing the guiter and performing has been a part of him from that day. About 15 years ago he started a band called the “Gold Creek Band” (the name of a former district), in which there are a number of fiddlers who perform with him, as well as a bass player. Rod Sutherland is one of his friends who takes part in it, as well as Murl Pursho, who I’m sure is a good balance for the guys.

Nick has always preferred Old Time Country music and has always played acoustic guitar. When he was young, he remembers those were the days when there was not much money around.  He often played for school dances and other events. In 1956 he had a tape made of some of his songs.

He is inspired by Hank Snow, George Jones, Wilf Carter and Hank Williams. He has over 3,000 “LP’s” of various singers in his collection.

Nick now lives hear Cherhill, and has been there for about 17 years. He also plays a little bit of fiddle and the mandolin.

Nick has been involved in the Jamborees for about 20 years, and has run them for quite a number of different locations – Sangudo, Entwistle, Seba Beach, Sandhills, and our own here at Magnolia. He would set up the music system and make sure it ran successfully, keep control of the noise, as well as keep everything going on time and keep everything moving.

His first Jamboree was Cherhill, which he ran for nine years. At the peak they had 53 entertainers and each singer or group would only get to sing one round – and they still wouldn’t get out of the hall until about 2:00 in the morning! I asked him how long the Jamborees have been running, and he said that Darwell has had their 25th anniversary with their Jamborees, and Barrhead has hosted them for 30 years.

Nick has played as backup for a LOT of singers in his time, and he has also done his share of playing instrumentals that people are VERY happy to dance to!

We appreciate everything you have done for the Jamborees Nick, and wish you the best! Thank you so much for taking part in this interview, and giving us a glimpse into the past!