Folk musician George McConkey
george mcconkey  

Biography: Musician George McConkey


George McConkey is a northern institution. Fondly nicknamed Harmonica George by his myriad of Yukon fans, he is a founding member of the Undertakin’ Daddies (Juno nominated for Post Atomic Hillbilly in 2002) (West Coast Music Awards nominee for Devil in the Rearview 2004) and has toured Europe, the US and across Canada.

Known as a musician’s musician, Harmonica George has let his lyrical style of improvisation bedazzle and amaze all who listen, performing with the likes of Calvin Vollrath, Lester Quitzau, Carolyn Mark, Hawk Walsh, Gordie Johnson, David Essig, Wyckham Porteous, Cardella De Milo, Dino Spells, Teresa Doyle, Rick Scott, Ray Condo, Gary Comeau, Rawlin’s Cross, Kenny Wayne, Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir,  and Phil Lloyd to name a few.

A sought after session musician in the Yukon, Harmonica George has played on many renowned Yukon projects including CDs for Jerry Alfred and The Medicine Beat (Juno winner Best Aboriginal Recording 1996 , Juno nominee 1997), The Pointer Brothers, Anne Louise Genest, Joe Bishop and Kendall Sullivan, Deering and Down and Ryan McNally. He has opened for John Hammond Jr., Blue Rodeo, Prairie Oyster and Tom Russell, performed by invitation for Prince Charles, and been an invited guest at Vancouver’s prestigious Harmonica Blast.

Growing Up

McConkey grew up in a suburb of Toronto, spending all his boyhood summers at the family cottage on Go Home Lake near Georgian Bay. When a family friend brought a harmonica to his dad’s weekly dart game, George age eleven, was smitten and would not give in until his dad stopped at Savette on the journey home and bought him one. Playing hooky and music – chiefly the blues – with high-school buddies, George took inspiration from John Hammond, Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry, Charlie McCoy and Paul Butterfield. As a teenager, wanderlust grabbed him and he hitched and rode the rails around Canada finally ending up in the Yukon at age 19 where he spent his first summer in a cabin on Benson Creek up the Dempster Highway.

And the spell of the Yukon holds him still. Today life in a cabin in West Dawson is cozy and an inspirational backdrop for brewing music. With his first solo CD Tin & Bone under his harp belt, Harmonica George has given his world-wide fans something to talk about.

Tin & Bone

a Yukon-spirited collection of folk and blues tinged originals and lively traditionals featuring dazzling bluesharp and folk-styled harmonica with the added gem – the album’s title cut Tin & Bone, a harmonica flavoured reading of  The Song Of The Mouth Organ, the poem by Robert Service bard of the Yukon

Tin & Bone, McConkey’s first solo project was co-produced with Nathan Tinkham, co-founder of The Great Western Orchestra (Juno nominated for Country Group of the Year) guitarist for Ian Tyson, Cindy Church, Quartette, Diamond Joe White, Undertakin’ Daddies. Tinkham who has been called the western guitarist of choice, plays guitar and dobro and well respected Victoria jazz musician Rob Bergman adds upright bass and harmonies letting McConkey’s harmonica gold shine through.

"George always knows how to get inside a melody or song and make people feel what he's playing. He plays from the heart not from the page -- and that's where the best music comes from" - MIKE STEVENS