Wayne Covey has returned to his hometown where his passion for music began.
Now 63, he is applying for Canada’s Got Talent — a dream come true for a young Timmins boy who started his own band, the Heart and Soul, when he was only 16 years old.
“I’m going to give a shot. I’m going to enter it (Canada’s Got Talent), and see what will happen from there,” he said in an interview, admitting that he always second guesses whether or not he should audition for the reality show that is returning to CityTV.
“I mean really, what’s it going to hurt? It’s not going to hurt anything. The only thing they’re going to say is ‘no, you’re too old’,” he added.
Covey’s deep and rich voice is still in him and his love for music is what keeps him playing at the Victory Tavern downtown Timmins every Saturday.
Covey has joined countless music contests.
He recalled his first media exposure back in 1983, when he did a great imitation of Willie Nelson. That audition won him three hours of recording time in a studio and a chance to have his demo song aired on the radio.
At the time, the 25-year-old Timmins boy was all smiles before the camera, showing off his Stars championship plaque that he won in the Country Music Talent Contest in Niagara; he was full of hopes and excitement that his victory would finally see his talents recognized.
He was quoted back then in a 38-year-old publication that he dreamt to make a name for himself and have his own record.
But the winning pot did not pan out.
“I was given a recording contract on that (contest), which wasn’t even worth the paper that was written on, unfortunately,” he admitted.
The contract only covered the $500 set-up fee, and he needed to pay $2,000 out of his own pocket for the whole recording process.
“I just said, well that’s out of my price books because I was married at that time, I have two kids, I was going to college, taking a welding course and that, so there was no way I can come up with that kind of money,” Covey added.
Everyone Has Dreams
Starting out in the music industry, Covey’s dreams were to have his records played all over and open up his own bar.
He had it pictured in his mind, where it would be built and how it would be called Wayne’s Country Palace. The idea of owning a nightclub got “shut down” after hearing several horror stories of being a club owner.
His first dream of having his own record did not happen during his younger years.
“My biggest regret is when I was younger, when I was learning the business. I was totally green-horn in the business, and my greatest regret was not learning how to control alcohol. Drugs weren’t an issue back then for me, because I wasn’t into it. The alcohol was. It played the big part in that, and I regret it, all those kinds of mistakes that I made, but I also learned from those mistakes,” he admitted.
In 2018, he achieved his goal.
A good friend, Gordon Murray Lapierre, who owned a recording studio in Timmins, asked Covey to create a soundtrack for song lyrics that Lapierre had composed.
“My dream for recording it came true, but it didn’t go as well as I hoped it would have,” Covey said.
There are two songs that are original on the CD, Everyone has Dreams and Dreams of Yesterday. The rest were country, blues, jazz and gospel song covers.
“Just the thought of having my own CD, god I was so proud when I came home, when I held up there like this,” Covey said, acting as if he was holding a CD that landed on his hands from the sky.
He fondly remembers working with Lapierre on the CD for two nights. Covey did the bass work and voice, while Lapierre did the drums, keyboard, and all the back-up instruments involved.
“It was just two nights, the CD was done. He (Lapierre) couldn’t believe it either. He told me that he recorded a lot of people in his studio. It usually takes anywhere from a week or two to get a CD,” Covey said.
Covey and Lapierre just clicked. They released 20 copies of his album at the Victory Tavern and were sold out on the same weekend that he launched it. Lapierre gave him another 25 copies, and he was able to sell them all.
“He was such a good friend, and he didn’t charge me a dime to do this CD. And he did everything, he did the label, he did the cover, everything,” Covey said feeling grateful of the kind gesture that his friend gave.
Unfortunately, Covey said, shortly after that, Lapierre died of cancer. Covey did not get the master copy of the CD, so there are no spare copies of his album at present.
“I’ve been trying to re-record onto another CD, that doesn’t work, for some reason it won’t record. Unless I get it, I could possibly give it to a studio that might be able to do it,” he said.
He said that the song ‘Everyone has dreams’ will be his song entry for Canada's Got Talent, as the song would give tribute to Lapierre and his fond memories with him.
It is also a way to show to the audience that age does not matter for a musician who has big dreams.
“The most favourite line on there is ‘Everyone has dreams’ and it is true, everyone has a dream, you know, whether or not you decide to go for that dream or you don’t, but everyone has dreams. It was just a beautiful song the way we did it, the two of us together,” Covey said.
Covey is still continuing to achieve his dreams, although they’ve changed over time. When he hangs up his guitar for the last time, he hopes people will remember who he was as a musician and as a friend.
“I’m planning on staying in this business for as long as my throat will hang out. That I just love the business, I just love entertaining people, I love playing for people,” Covey said.
“The legacy I want to leave behind here is people will remember who I was…Just remember me for what I contributed to the music business in Timmins in general,” he added.
During Covey’s “heydays”, after his high school group Heart and Soul disbanded, he played with CL & Company, which played mainly country songs, the genre he grew-up listening to with his parents and siblings. In the '70s during the disco era, he was playing six nights a week for a show called Rock n’ Tap at the historic Senator Hotel. He then discovered he could do a great Elvis impersonation, when he sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love” as a tribute to the King of Rock and Roll a year after Elvis’ death in 1977.
“I did an Elvis tribute in 1978, and turned out to be so appreciated and so well received that they decided of me doing the Elvis night every Wednesday at the Senator Hotel,” he said.
Covey said, he did not look like Presley at all, especially having red hair, but his voice gave a justifiable imitation of the late icon.
After that, he moved to Niagara and spent most his music career in Sarnia. Covey moved back to Timmins in 2008.
“I came back home for a visit and then I ended up staying,” Covey said with a playful laugh while drinking a bottle of beer, adding that it was good to come back.
“I knew Timmins was not so good for the music end of it, I said, well I’ll take my chances. I’ll take whatever they got to offer, so I’ve been here ever since then,” he added.
In 2010 he started playing again at the Windsor Tavern in Timmins, which burned down a couple years ago, the Dante Club, and the Victory Tavern. During the pandemic, he was doing Facebook Live performances and virtual karaoke.
Now that bars and clubs are finally reopened, Covey performs live with his band Daryll Rose & Daryll every Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Victory Tavern. He also hosts the karaoke night in the same club every Thursday.