2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
Dallas (Leon) Harms is a Canadian country music singer - songwriter, guitarist, and record producer, born in Saskatchewan in 1935. He was raised in Hamilton, Ontario where, inspired by Hank Williams, he began his career in the mid-1950s and made his first record, for Reo, in 1959. Harms had country hits in 1972-1973 with 'In the Loving Arms of My Marie' and 'Old Ira Gray,' and 1975-79 with 'Paper Rosie,' 'Georgia I'm Cheating On You Tonight,' 'It's Crying Time for Me,' 'The Fastest Gun,' 'I Picked a Daisy,' and 'The Ballad of the Duke'.
Several of his songs were recorded at mid-decade by Orval Prophet and by the US singer Gene Watson. The latter had major US hits with 'Paper Rosie' in 1977 and with 'The Old Man and His Horn' and 'Cowboys Don't Get Lucky All the Time' in 1978. Harms made several tours at this time across Canada, including one in 1976 with Ian Tyson. He also performed in New Zealand and, in 1980 and 1981, in England. His LP "Out of Harms Way", issued in 1982, included the popular 'Honky Tonkin' (All Night Long),' 'Country Fever,' and 'Fooling with Fire'.
Harms received Big Country Awards as top composer (1975 and annually 1977-9) and top producer (1978, 1979 and 1985, the last shared with Mike 'Pepe' Francis) and for best single ('Paper Rosie,' 1975; 'Georgia I'm Cheating on You Tonight,' 1976) and best album (The Fastest Gun, 1978). He also won the CCMA awards as producer of the year in 1983 and 1984 (the second again shared with Mike Francis). Harms has produced singles or albums by Terry Carisse, Larry Mattson, Wayne Rostad, Roni Sommers, Paul Weber, and others. His best-known title, 'Paper Rosie,' a standard of the Canadian country repertoire, was heard in the 1990 US feature film, "Another 48 Hours". Harms was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989.
It was Dallas Harms who encouraged Ronnie Hawkins to come to play in Hamilton in 1958 after seeing one of Hawkins' wild performances back in Arkansas. Harms helped to create a buzz in Hamilton which led to a successful string of dates by Hawkins at the Golden Rail. Hawkins performed with guitarist Jimmy Ray Paulman, pianist Will Pop Jones, and drummer Levon Helm.
Whether he's lounging on his perch at The Lazy Flamingo patio, walking through the acres of walnut trees he planted at his farm, or reminiscing with fellow musicians about when he loved the business of music (and the people he drove a little nuts along the way!) Jim Skarratt has made a concrete impression on the Hamilton music scene over the last 40 years.
It started back in the Hammer's gritty North End & Toronto with a King Saxophone and an untold number of nights in smoky bars. But playing the endless, dayless nightclubs like The Downstairs Club and The Hawk's Nest with Bobby Washington & The Soul Society had its limits, and for Jim, life as a music promoter came knocking.
That began with being a part of the Canadian Entertainment Conference (to become COCA) at McMaster University and bringing in the likes of The Bee Gees, Neil Young, Rush, Frank Zappa, Chicago, Neil Diamond, Cat Stevens and The Guess Who. It turned shows at the Phys-Ed complex into memorable phenomenons. As Jim's concerts became bigger and better, so did his stages.
Through Skarratt Promotions Inc., he went on to program Massey Hall, presenting Roy Orbison, Robert Palmer and Crowded House; subsequently touring Canada and the U.S. with Harry Chapin, Kim Mitchell, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Al Martino and Ricky Nelson to name a few.
On these tedious and tiring schedules, Jim earned the industry nickname "Mom" as he would ensure that bleary-eyed band members took regular nutritional supplements at breakfast and get lots of rest for the show that night. "Mom" always made sure you started on time.
Of course he also programmed Hamilton place with a lineup including Billy Connolly, Sharon, Lois & Bram, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Denver and Wayne Newton.
But eventually, the industry changed, and so did Jim.
After opening The Lazy Flamingo Restaurant in Hess Village, Jim found a perfectly smaller stage for a more family-driven vibe, having three boisterous boys (Jay, David & Steven) with Lois, the love of his life and settling into the Greensville area. Jim was the driving force behind the Hess Village Jazz Festivals which ran annually every summer from the early nineties to about 2008, where young and old could stroll through the heart of Hamilton and watch free, first-class Jazz and Blues musicians at all stages of their careers. Jim still has entertainment every night at Lazy and has helped many of the bands that've played there through the decades mature into talented artists known across Canada. Almost all of the musicians and staff call him "Dad," and he thinks of them fondly as the sons and daughters he never wanted... (joke!)
Jim leaves a lasting legacy that every musician who's had the pleasure (or pain!) of dealing with him will never forget. He's a Mom, a Dad, a husband, and a friend to music lovers everywhere. He is very grateful for the lifetime achievement award from the city that helped shape him. A city that will always remember his impression.