Ray St. Hilaire – Focus on Local Artists – Issue #27

July 2014
For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features Ray St. Hilaire, from Lac du Bonnet, who plays guitar and bass, and sings.
Fifty years ago, he watched the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and realized that he needed to grow his hair long and buy a guitar. On his twelfth birthday, he got one. And, as they say “the rest is history.”
After taking lessons for six months, he recruited friends to form a rock band. They performed at school variety and talent shows, and at university frat parties. Then he started playing in Winnipeg bars and travelling with various bands from The Pas to Emerson. As he says, there are “not too many Manitoba towns I haven’t played in.”
He’s been in so many bands he can’t remember all the names. Here are a few: Four and a Quarter, The Missing Link, White Rabbit, The Rich Hippies and Big Brass Band.
His other love is motorcycles and he’s performed at many Harley riders’ celebrations and shows. For four years, his band played at the Thursday Night Riders Children’s Wish benefit. This year, it will be held on October 25th at Canad Inn Transcona.
St. Hilaire enjoys teaching guitar, and is very proud of his “number one student,” his fourteen-year-old grandson, Darien Tayler, who is starting his own band. St. Hilaire’s son is an accomplished drummer who just returned from three and a half years playing in the Middle East, and his granddaughter Calista is following in this musical family’s footsteps.
He has often played at Casey’s in Lac du Bonnet, and, when he retired from his job as a journeyman industrial mechanic, he decided to settle on the Winnipeg River.
St. Hilaire calls himself a “Gear Head” because of the numerous guitars, basses, amplifiers, drums and microphones he has acquired. He also works as a sound technician and he’ll be providing sound production for the 4P Festival in Powerview-Pine Falls on the Labour Day weekend.
St. Hilaire recently played at Pine Falls Legion with current band “Rice and Beans.” He says, “Seeing the dance floor packed with smiling faces and gyrating hips brought me back to that magical night in 1964 when John, Paul, George and Ringo mesmerized me.”