Musical pioneer Tab Shori lives on

Music was everything to Tab Shori.

Sure, there were a few years -- from 14 into his 20s -- when the music stopped. But, even when he was living the cowboy life as a wrangler at an Ashcroft ranch, music still called to him every weekend, as he made his way into Kamloops and his Tab's Cabida at 317 Tranquille Rd.

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And it's why he's being inducted posthumously into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame as one of the province's musical pioneers, a list he shares this year with George Calangis, Sharman King, Tom Lavin, Ian McDougall and Linda McRae, people honoured for leaving an indelible mark on the province's entertainment landscape. The StarWalk inductees include Michael J. Fox, Marcus Mosely, Hal Beckett, Jazzy B and Joe Keithley.

Along his musical journey, Shori opened for Ike and Tina Turner, was asked to tour with Chubby Checker and saw two of his singles hit the charts.

It began with a violin, said Shori's sister, Sylvia Mahal. All of the Shori children had to learn an instrument or dance style, she said -- hers was highland dancing while another sister opted for Hawaiian dancing -- and Tab was gifted with the instrument but eventually picked up a guitar and his destiny was set.

It was another iconic musician who brought it back to life for Shori after he stopped playing in his teens. The spark was lit again when he was watching The Ed Sullivan Show and saw Elvis Presley -- but more importantly, saw Presley's guitarist, Scotty Moore.

He picked up his guitar again.

Shori and sister Smitra performed as a duo throughout Vancouver and were at one time encouraged to take their act to Hollywood. Instead, they continued performing in their hometown. Later, as a member of The Hi-Fives, Shori continued making music, alongside Harry Walker on vocals, Freddy Caotenuto on sax, Bill Papuc on bass and either Red Lewis or Larry Krashin on drums.

It was this band that notched a spot on Canadian and U.S. charts with Mean Old Woman, which hit No. 1 in Los Angeles and No. 7 in Canada in 1961. Cold Wind was on the B-side of the single.

That same year, responding to a request from a radio DJ, they recorded the novelty song Fujikama The Warrior, one replete with no actual lyrics but just strange shrieks and other noises courtesy of DJ Frosty Forst.

Shori didn't just make music -- he encouraged it. The tour with Checker was passed on so he could open Vancouver's first R&B studio, something he supported by working three jobs -- teaching, playing and driving a tandem truck.

His dad, who played ukulele, had a studio in their home and ran The New Delhi Cabaret at 544 Main St., where the Hi-Fives performed often. There were plenty of victories in band battles at the Orpheum Theatre, as well.

But it wasn't just about the music. Shori was a member of a ski patrol, boxed and hopped on his motorcycle -- after teaching himself Spanish, one of four languages with which he had fluency -- for a trip to Mexico.

A love of horses and the ranching life led him to the Bar Q Guest Ranch in Ashcroft, where he was a wranger and also emcee for events. Eventually, he started his night club in Kamloops, bringing in not only local acts but bigger names like The Platters and Aaron Neville.

The house band was Sundance, featuring Gerry King on bass, Keith Johnson on lead guitar and John Webber on drums, with Shori occasionally sitting in with his guitar or sax, another instrument he perfected.

There were movie nights, jam sessions and plenty of events to help out charities, something Shori did throughout his career. When the music industry started to change, Shori shut down the club, Mahal said.

"He should have written a book," she said of her brother.

"He did so many things."

© Kamloops This Week



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