Natalie MacMaster Mac Morin

» Mac Morin (Piano)
» Nathaniel Smith (Cello)
» Shane Hendrickson (Bass)
» Eric Breton (Drums, Percussion)
» Nate Douglas (Guitar, Vocals)
» Matt MacIsaac (Pipes, Whistles)
» Donnell Leahy (Fiddle)





Instrument: Bass

“It couldn’t have been a worse start for a musician,” says Shane. Shane was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to a farming family from the small hamlet of Crane Valley (50 people on a good day!).

“Growing up, there were no other musicians I could jam with in town and the only music we had was AM radio - not the best influence for a budding musician.”

Shane started his musical career at the age of 9 when he bought his brother’s cheap acoustic guitar. “It was a Sears special with the strings about an inch off of the fretboard. Funny I didn’t end up a dobro player!” Shane used to spend hours trying to figure the thing out, and finally worked hard enough to learn a Johnny Cash song. That planted the seed.

Later in high school, kids from other communities were bussed to his school and he found 3 other kids that were musical. “We would get together and jam fiddle tunes. It was a great musical experience,” says Shane. Then came that fateful day when they got their first gig. It soon became apparent that the band needed a bass player. After arguing over who was not going to play, bass Shane, being the nice guy, caved in, and after a trip to the bargain basement at the Sears outlet in Regina, he had his first bass. “Well it looked like a bass and made a noise similar to one so it was close enough.”

From that day forward, Shane’s future was laid out for him. He also tried his hand at playing the fiddle, but after the SPCA kept showing up at his door accusing him of torturing cats, he gave it up and concentrated on the bass.

After high school, Shane enrolled in Agriculture at the University of Saskatoon. “Don’t tell my parents, but it was the only way I could get into the city and meet other musicians!” He was soon taking every awful gig he could, just to get experience. While playing a bar in Moose Jaw, he met up with a family band called Churko and soon became their bassist. In the band were the talented brothers Cory and Kevin Churko. (Cory would later become the fiddle/guitar player for Shania Twain and is currently touring with Kelly Clarkson. Kevin would go on to become a world-class engineer/producer, honing his skills as Mutt Lang’s right hand man.) After years of touring the bar circuit in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Shane, Cory, and Kevin broke away and moved to Vancouver, BC. There they formed the band Underground Outlaws.

To complete the band they brought in a talented keyboardist from Vancouver Island by the name of Mike Norman (who later became a first-call studio musician as well as sideman for performers such as Lisa Brokop and Aaron Pritchett). The four of them got busy gigging, recording, and releasing a self-titled CD that garnered a Canadian top 10 single. Not the kind of guys to rest on their achievements, they entered the studio once again and recorded a rock album under the name Explorers. The “two” bands then traveled all over Canada playing every bar and festival they could. As the Explorers, they entered and won a Canadian band contest and were flown to Japan to play at the world famous Budokan Hall.

Unfortunately, years of touring, recording, and more touring took its toll. As well, Canadian radio was changing and it was hard to get airplay. So, the band members decided to go their separate ways. It was then that Shane’s career as a professional sideman started, as he began taking studio gigs and playing for bands and recording acts around the Vancouver area. He was soon picked up by one of the hardest working female trios in Canada, Farmer’s Daughter. Not only did he tour non-stop across Canada with Farmers Daughter, but he also had the unique experience to be with them when they were mistakenly hired to play for 30,000 bikers at a rally in France! “I don’t get nervous playing for large crowds, but man I was nervous,” laughs Shane. Also with the “Daughters” he was honoured to fly to North Africa to play for the Canadian troops with the UN. “Being in the middle of a war zone really opens your eyes. It also gave all of us a great appreciation for the work our Canadian Peacekeepers are doing,” says Shane.

After his time with Farmers Daughter, Shane again settled into his freelance sideman routine until one day he got a call from Siobheann Leahy, bassist for the Canadian Celtic powerhouse Leahy. “Siobheann asked if I would like to fill in for a couple of weeks for her. Of course I jumped at the chance,” explained Shane. “Then she told me the first show was in Detroit in 10 days and it’s a 90 minute show!” Gulp! Well by foregoing sleep and food, Shane managed to get the tunes embedded into his head. He walked on stage 10 days later in Detroit with no rehearsal, and the show went off without a hitch. “It went so well that I don’t think there was one person in the audience who knew I wasn’t a part of the band!” Well, there was one person in the audience who noticed - Natalie MacMaster.

Fast forward two years later. Shane is on the last show in New York of a US tour with Italian singer Patrizio Buanne when he gets a call on his cell from Natalie. She was making some changes in her band and wondered if he’d be interested in working with her. “I thought about it for about a millisecond before accepting!” jokes Shane. Once again, he found himself trying to cram material for a whole 90 minute show into his head! “At least this time I had a whole two weeks to learn Natalie’s music!”

“I’m very blessed to be playing with Natalie and her band of incredibly talented musicians,” says Shane. “I’ve got the best seat in the house! Natalie is not only an incredible musician but also she is a great entertainer and probably the nicest person you’ll ever meet. It feels like I’ve won the musicians’ lottery!”



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