(Editor’s note: Shortly after this story was written, Mogens Galberg passed away March 15, 2020. Our condolences to the Galberg family.)
As a teenager Mogens Galberg found a passion for music and fans of traditional folk, roots and blues in Durham Region have been the beneficiaries as a result.
Galberg is co-founder of the Greenbank Folk Music Society, staging concerts in the Greenbank Centennial Hall since 1993, selling all 95 available tickets with regularity.
Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1949, Galberg started to play guitar when he was young and since then music has been a big part of his everyday life.
“Even as we raised our family here in Greenbank, he always played guitar and sang around the house,” said his wife, Cathy.
Mogens moved to Canada with his family when he was nine. He met and married Cathy in 1972 and they moved to Greenbank the following year, chasing cheap property and a country lifestyle.
Among the acts who have performed in the small hall are Ron Sexsmith, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Ron Hynes and Stephen Fearing.
For being such a large part in the Durham Region Music scene, Mogens, 70, has been chosen as a winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Oshawa Music Awards.
(The lifetime awards were scheduled to be presented April 3, but the live show has been cancelled due to COVID-19. They will move to online recognition at oshawamusicawards.ca)
“Coming from his family, we are super honoured to have him recognized in this way because it has been completely a labour of love on his part,” said Cathy, 65.
The idea for the Greenbank Folk Music Society came after Galberg and a friend visited folk festivals and folk clubs. After driving past an old building in Greenbank, they realized it would be ideal location to run a folk club.
“There have been so many people involved over the years. There’s a lady who’s still there after 27 years and my wife is still there after 27 years,” Mogens said.
Greenbank is a sleepy little hamlet located on Highway 12, north of Port Perry. From the first show to now, nothing has changed much in Greenbank, or in the hall. Everything, they say is exactly the same.
“He was very particular that the hall should have tables with tablecloths and candles in the middle and that snacks were served and that we created a warm atmosphere,” Cathy said.
The music society is a non-profit organization run by volunteers. In the early years the club had to apply for grants from the Ontario Arts Council, but that was when they were still growing.
“It became really popular with musicians, they loved to play there because the sound was good and it was friendly and nice. They would come to our home for dinner and it became really popular with the audience members,” Cathy said.
Mogens has done all the booking for the concerts, serving as the organization’s artistic director.
There have been so many people who’ve played at Greenbank – some of them popular while others aren’t well known. But no matter what, the shows were sold out. People started to trust that if it was at Greenbank, it’ll be a good show, Cathy said.
“He’s enjoyed bringing it to people and it’s something everybody has in common, it’s the common denominator,” Cathy added.
At a show, you can find a wide range of people, she says. From doctors and lawyers, to a local plumber, and young people. Music lovers buy their tickets – normally $30 – by calling the organization and once a concert is sold out people can be put on a waiting list.
After 27 years, the husband and wife duo can’t pick just one musical memory.
“There have been a number of magical moments that have all been quite magical. That’s what you would have to call them, magical moments,” Cathy explained.
The 2020 musical season had already started in Greenbank before COVID-19 altered Canada’s way of life.
“It’s a wonderful beautiful thing. Music belongs to everyone. Live music belongs to everyone,” Mogens said.