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Musician bringing tales of Manitoba prairies to Diamond Valley

Manitoba western folk musician Del Barber plays Beneath the Arch in Diamond Valley on Sept. 16.
Manitoba western folk musician Del Barber plays Beneath the Arch in Diamond Valley on Sept. 16.

Diamond Valley’s long-running concert series returns this weekend.

Manitoba singer/songwriter Del Barber launches Beneath the Arch's 2023-2024 season at the Flare n’ Derrick on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.

Drawing inspiration from the prairie life he leads in Manitoba’s Parkland region, four hours west of Winnipeg, Barber’s Western folk style often tells stories of the people he's encountered.

“I’ve been obsessed with documenting people's stories from the prairies and the Eastern Slopes, the economies that allow us to survive, and the richness and diversity and character of people that live here,” Barber said.

“Sometimes people get it and it’s allowed me to have a life, and when it’s not busy, I farm with my in-laws, cattle and grain, it’s an endless cycle of triumph and struggle like everyone else.

“It’s not something everybody wants to hear, it’s definitely a niche, but I’m proud that I’ve been able to do it for a decade or more, and for some reason it still resonates with people.”

Many of those stories have been drawn not from his own experiences, but from people he's met over the years, who more often than not, he said, had much harder lives than his, such as Jared from his album Almanac, released last April.

“When I was in my early 20s, I worked at a drug rehab centre in Winnipeg, I basically spent my days driving criminals to court dates," Barber said.  

“I got bombarded with a side of the world I had never really paid enough attention to and just started to find a lot of compassion for people who made some decisions I probably wouldn’t have made.

“But when I think about it, if I had maybe a more challenging upbringing or a few things that could have gone wrong, I could have seen myself or anybody for that matter falling into patterns like that.

“I want to make sure people understand that I'm not really trying to talk about the fluffy stuff, I don’t write about my own middle-class rural white perspective a whole lot. I'm trying to write other people's stories.”

This isn’t Barber’s first pass through Beneath the Arch either, and he’s looking forward to a return engagement.  

“It’s up there with one of the greatest nights I've had, I absolutely loved the show and I hope this one compares with it,” he said.

“For some reason that Quonset hut or whatever you want to call, that space just sounds so good.”

Following in October will be up-tempo blues group Blue Moon Marquee and honky-tonk singer/songwriter Tom Phillips plays with his band The DT’s in November.

The Beneath the Arch concert series is organized by a non-profit society which donates proceeds back into the community via the Beneath the Arch Bursary to fund creative pursuits of youth in the western portion of Foothills County.

For more information about Barber’s work visit

Tickets are available online at or at the door.

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