Ian Tyson has a successful television show and an encouraging new album on his hands. He also has a problem. “Im trying to translate the success of the show,” said Tyson, draping a long leg over the arm of a living room chair. I don’t know how to handle it. Im like a kid with a new toy I dont know what to do with it.” The new album, released by Columbia Records and entitled You Were On My Mind, is doing moderately, the singer said in an interview. “It’s not setting the world on fire. It may. The title song is a newly-arranged version of Ian and Sylvia’s highly popular single which brought them wide attention a few years back. The rest of the cuts are examples of a more polished and developed Ian and Sylvia.
Together, the Ian Tyson Show and the album have brought Ian back into the folk spotlight. He said he wants to capitalize on the exposure. That means taking Sylvia and The Great Speckled Bird their backup band back onto the road. And thats where the problem comes in. Id like to tour off and on in the States, said Tyson, smoking the one cigar he allows himself a day. “But its difficult with a big band. “With an entourage of nine or 10 musicians its very expensive to go on the road. Expenses have gone up astronomically. To tour successfully, Tyson would need a series of bookings throughout Canada and the United States. “But the circuit has disappeared for medium-priced groups like ours,” said Tyson, adding his band charges between $2,500 and $3,000 a night. The group would lose money flying to Western Canada or the U.S for only one engagement. “There’s no place for them to put us for one night where they could make money,” he said, nursing a cup of coffee. We’d end up losing on the deal.”
The telephone rang and he strode out of the gracious living room in his downtown home and into the den. A few minutes later he returned. “That was a guy who wanted us to do a tour of the East Coast. Id love to go East but the problem is that in Eastern Canada, the halls are small and the people havent a lot of money. You couldn’t charge $5 a seat they couldn’t afford to come. In most halls the promoter would lose money if the charge was smaller. It’s the kind of problem that has Ian Tyson thinking.
“I wonder if you could almost create a very contemporary version of vaudeville, he said. “It would be a monumental job, though.” His plan would be to arrange with a number of FM radio stations to sponsor regular concerts by middle-priced groups such as his own and people like singer Buffy Ste. Mane. The groups would go on the road for several weeks, knowing that another job was just an economical days journey away. He said he would like to try his hand at film producing and is excited about a recently-released novel by a Canadian from the West. “I’d love to produce,” Tyson said. “I don’t know about acting, though.” He is also interested in grabbing the championship of the Ontario Cutting Horse Association, of which he is president. Cutting horses are the elite of the western rancher’s spreads. They were used for “cutting cattle from big herds and directing them into various pens, but now it is a sport and a competitive one.
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