There is very little doubt that per capita there is nowhere that has any more music in the hearts and souls than that of the folks of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Most houses have a musical instrument, a guitar, a fiddle or an accordion standing in the corner waiting for a “time” to break out and get the stomp up and going. Whether it’s at home or at the cabin, it’s in our DNA. Social status or how affluent or how humble we live our lives, it doesn’t matter, music is one of the few remaining common denominators that makes us all equal.
We are blessed in Labrador West with lots of music, folks who have the passion and the gift of music. Most importantly, we have folks among us who unconditionally give of their time and their music whenever and wherever the need or desire arises.
There is no better example of this than our very own Steve Skinner. He came to Labrador in 1975 where he and his wife Betty have lived, worked and raised their family. All the while with his music playing an important part in his life and perhaps even more important to the community at large.
Skinner came to Labrador West from his home of Harbour Round on the Baie Verte Peninsula when he was 19 years old. His uncle had given him an old guitar with two strings when he was in his early teens and so it began.
He is self-taught and plays the guitar, the fiddle, the mandolin and the accordion. For those of us who have heard him play, there is very little doubt that there isn’t a venue anywhere that he couldn’t play on. He would provide the gift with equal skill and enthusiasm whether it was down at the cabin or standing in the “CIRCLE” with Ricky Skaggs at the Grand Ole Opry. Music from the master’s hand sounds the same no matter where you are.
Skinner has played his whole life, solo performances, in the band, no matter, an audience of one or a full hall. Anyone from our community who has a problem with an instrument - whether it’s bad strings or any other issues - he is always there to get things up and running again. He has given countless hours over numerous years teaching and mentoring the many folks who have needed a helping hand.
He has volunteered his music to countless community organizations and events. Whenever you may find yourself at a local event that matters to our community, that would be better served with a bit of live local music, you will usually find Skinner there.
You will also find him at the hospital on a regular basis bringing music and a smile to the folks, our folks who need a bit of music to brighten their day. What a gift to see a foot tapping the floor from the patients, medicine from Skinner’s strings.
Since he retired from I.O.C. in 2000, us folks in Labrador West have had him on our speed dial, no shifts to schedule around, only his gift of music. Thanks Steve, how good have we got it.