Tommy Buick was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on July 18th, 1923. He was the middle child of John and Anna Bujaczek who emigrated from Western Ukraine to settle in valley River, Manitoba. Tommy’s musical career spanned more than 65 years and this is his story.
In Tommy’s younger years he and his family attended many country weddings and parties and it was at these functions that Tommy first head the violin. He spoke of the violin to his parents daily and yearned to have this instrument. When Tommy was approximately 10 years of age he contracted Influenza and was very ill. He had a raging fever almost to the point of delirium. His parent’s worried whether he would survive and asked him if there was anything they could for him. He weakly answered, “Please buy me a violin.” His father went to Winnipeg and bought him an inexpensive violin at a pawn ship for %5.00 and took it home to him. As our grandmother told the story, it was less than an hour of having that instrument placed in his hands that Tommy’s fever subsided and by the next morning, he totally recovered. We believe it may have been a coincidence, but Tommy’s parents were not convinced that it wasn’t the violin.
As there were no music teachers readily available, and money was scarce, Tommy persevered and practiced constantly until he taught himself to play. It was quickly evident to all that heard him that he possessed a god given talent in the field of music. He was mesmerized by the tone and sound this instrument made and it was the beginning of a life love affair for them. Tommy loved the violin and the violin became a part of him. He didn’t know it then, but his musical career was just beginning to unfold.
During the years after World War 2, Tommy mastered several professions, but his first love was to play music. For many years he worked during the day and performed in the evenings to support his family. One day a friend told him that a man should work at what he truly love to so and so Tommy decided to put all his time and energy into his music. Tommy formed his very first band in the early 1950’s called Tommy Buick and his Norlanders and then went on to form the group he is most recognized with called the Red River valley Boys, with whom he traveled across the provinces a performing for the people. He was approached by radio station CKRC where he had his own program broadcasted daily for several years, and he and his bands popularity grew. He played in many hotels in Winnipeg where he drew a tremendous following and people traveled many miles just to hear him play. He performed at hundreds of weddings, barn dances, dance halls and anniversary parties across Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. He was asked to perform at benefits at benefits at the Manitoba Concert Hall, the Festival Du Voyageur and Manisphere, now known as the Red River Exhibition, and he judged many fiddling contests. He wrote and recorded countless tunes and nostalgically named them after his hometown as well as his family members. There were five albums recorded in all. Tow of these albums in particular featured traditional Ukrainian wedding music and thoughts of copies were sold in Canada and the United States. Soon Tommy’s name became a household word in Ukrainian homes across the provinces. When parents began making plans to hire musicians to play for their son’s or daughter’s wedding, Tommy’s name was the fist on the list. Tommy played the “Presentation” for each and every wedding with the same heart and soul as when he played the “Presentation” for his own daughter’s weddings. Whoever there was a function that involved music, Tommy’s name was always included.
In 1967 Tommy was asked to join the Mickey & Bunny troupe to troupe across Canada and play at Expo ’67 in Montreal, Quebec. This was a huge highlight in Tommy’s career and he never forgot the experience or the people he met.
Tommy was also a mentor to many young musicians throughout his life and was instrumental in giving them their first start. He fondly remembers hiring Ron Paley to play accordion for him before Ron was even old enough to drive.
Besides his love and affinity for Ukrainian music, Tommy loved to play Country style fiddle as well. In the late 1970’s he played on a country music television show entitled “Sounds Country”. Tommy and his band also played at several concerts in Winnipeg where Grand Old Opry great such as Marty Robbins, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Minnie Pearl and Grandpa Jones were featured. Tommy was a perfectionist and learned to play both styles of music with the same dedication.
Tommy grew older, but his love to play his cherished fiddle never did. Tommy played a Club la Verendrye for many years and performed at senior centers across Winnipeg. He always said that seeing the smiling peoples faces dance past the stage was so uplifting, and that it gave him energy and kindled the desire to continue performing. Countless couples would approach him, reminiscing about their memory of when he played their weddings 40 and 50 years ago. and Tommy was so grateful to hear their kind words.
We, the Buick family, have compiled this music fro our dad’s home collection with the hope that it gives you as much pleasure to listen to as it does us. We will always remember Dad as a an accomplished musician, a wonderful father, a Ukrainian man who never forgot his roots, and last but not leas a true gentlemen.