Brian Sklar started playing music as a child. He would take the long walk with his violin over the North Saskatchewan River bridge in Prince Albert Saskatchewan to the Academy Presentation of Mary, where he took lessons from Soeur (Sister) Gertrude Des Anges. At the age of eight, he won a silver medal from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, achieving the highest test score in Saskatchewan. Five years later, after spending several years with the Prince Albert Concert Orchestra, Sklar shifted gears and became an old-time fiddler, joining the Halldorson Family Orchestra, and later, at the age of 16, forming his own group.
At the age of 19, he went on tour for a year, playing mining towns in northern Ontario and the northern United States. It turned out to be the never-ending tour, which has included performances with virtually all of the legends of the Grand Ol Opry, including an appearance on the world-famous show with his good friend, Jean Shepard.
Sklar has a room full of awards from country music associations all over North America and Europe. He has, at this writing, done 43 European tours, recorded 39 albums, hosted and/or appeared in over 310 network and syndicated television shows, played 42 Calgary Stampedes, over 60 telethons, helped raise in excess of ten million dollars for children's charities, has an impressive display in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and most recently was accepted as a member of the Canadian Association of Country Music Legends. On December 6th, 2007, he added the title "Grammy Nominee" to that list of achievements.
Although he is best known as a country entertainer, Brian Sklar has had a long association with polka music. It all started during his childhood years, when he would hang around in front of the stage at family weddings. Just about every band had an accordion player in those days, and just about every radio and television station programmed live polka music, usually on Saturday afternoons. Groups like the Canadian Polka Kings and the Happy Roamin' Rangers played Cleveland-style polkas, and Sklar was totally taken with the happy staccato sound of the music.
So it was no surprise when after a night of jamming in 1976, Sklar suggested that a group of musicians travel to Edmonton to cut an album. The Western Senators were born.
Since 1993, Sklar and his wife Trudy, as well as his two sons, Aaron (a high school teacher and drummer with both the Tex Pistols and the Western Senators) and Damon (a music promoter and marketing guru) have lived in Regina, Saskatchewan. Summers are spent playing North American country music festivals in July and then touring Europe in August. Winters are spent playing one-nighters with his own group, the Tex Pistols (Canada's primo Western Swing and 60s-style Nashville band) and the Western Senators with Canada's Grammy Winning Polka King, Walter Ostanek.
Born in British Columbia, Wayne Kuntz has had a long career in the music business, including stints with Buddy Knox, Janie Fricke and other noted rock 'n' roll and country stars. Wayne now resides in Regina, and has been a part of the Western Senators and Tex Pistols since the birth of the Tex Pistols in 1995. He does all the bass work and low harmony vocals on the Tex Pistols albums, as well as on the Western Senators' recordings and on their TV series, PolkaRama. Of course, Wayne was also proud to make the trip to Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards when the Western Senators were nominated in 2008, which was extra special because the nomination came on the 50th anniversary of the awards.
Wayne is the consummate Saskatchewan Roughrider fan, and the biggest day of the year is Labour Day, when he sponsors the annual Winnipeg Blue Bomber/Saskatchewan Roughrider tailgate party in his backyard, which just happens to butt up against Mosaic Stadium, home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Married 18 times, Wayne has been looking for number 19 since he joined the band. Applicants for the position can reach Wayne by phone...he's in the Regina directory.
Born in Calgary Alberta, Aaron now resides in Lumsden Saskatchewan with his wife, Lindsey and their Pug, Esiason.
Always interested in music, Aaron became an avid fan of traditional country music before he could walk. His mother, Trudy Sklar, would put on Ray Price, Johnny Bush, and Mel Tillis albums for Aaron to listen to as he would spring in time to the music in his Jolly Jumper. His mother recalls Aaron swaying back and forth between songs waiting for the next track to begin.
Once Aaron was old enough to hold a 1/4 sized violin, he began taking lessons...but he would always sneak over to the back door neighbors' house to play Wayne Wylie's drums. The violin lessons would continue for another eight years, but in Aaron's first year of junior high the violin would be set aside for a pair of drum sticks.
Aaron's first band was "Youngstir", a group of kids, which was based out of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The group included Randle Currie (now the steel player for Brad Paisley), Aaron Young (formerly with Barrage), and Tyler Kushneryk (The Cleavers).
Aaron plays drums and does some of the vocals with the Tex Pistols. At this writing, he has completed thirteen European tours. In addition to the drums, he plays violin, guitar, and piano. When he is not touring, Aaron is a high school physics and chemistry teacher and records traditional country music in his home-based, digital studio..
In 1995 the movie "Frankie and Walter," which featured Frankie Yankovic and Walter Ostanek, was filmed in Saskatchewan. Aaron was hired to be a roadie on the tour, as well as the set photographer. Just prior to taping, drummer Lorne Pavelick suffered a heart attack. Concerned for Lorne's health, the band asked Aaron to sit in with the group on the dance portion of the shows. It wasn't long afterward that Aaron was asked to become a permanent member of the Western Senators, and remains so to this day.
Todd Barrie Lueck was born and raised in Saskatchewan. His dad played sax in a polka band, which Todd joined when he was a very young man. Later on, he was the band leader and guitar player with the 80s group the Red Hot Burritos. The Burritos won numerous contests and eventually performed on Ralph Emery's Nashville Now TV show on the Nashville Network.
Todd became a member of the Tex Pistols in 1995, and by extension, a member of the Western Senators. He now doubles on guitar and banjo, as well as providing the high fifth harmonies on all of the band's tunes.
Todd has made twelve European tours with Brian Sklar and company, and continues to tour with both the Tex Pistols and the Western Senators..
A native of Williams Lake, British Columbia, Rob joined Brian Sklar's Prairie Fire Band in 1986 and continues to perform with the Tex Pistols, playing steel and lead guitar and doing much of the vocal work with the band. Rob also does many of the studio steel sessions for artists in both Canada and the US and has made 14 European tours with Brian Sklar. He just recently completed a solo album with guest appearances by Redd Volkaert, Steve Pittico and Billy Phelps,and other noted instrumentalists..
"Brian Sklar and the Tex Pistols are simply the best show group “Dreams” has ever worked with…always a guaranteed sellout…"
- Earl Fried, Air Canada, Dreams Take Flight, Calgary
"Brian Sklar and the Tex Pistols love what they do, and it shows; every performance is a genuine first class entertainment experience..."
- Andy Zahnd, President and CEO, AAC International
"A Tex Pistols performance is like a night in Vegas… real showmanship and great music…"
- Marvin Wiens, Past President, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool
"To have a great event, you need a great band; nobody does it better than Brian Sklar and the Tex Pistols…"
- Rod Kitter, CJWW Radio, Saskatoon
"When it comes to entertaining at fairs, rodeos, conventions, and casinos, nobody beats the Tex Pistols. From the Calgary Stampede, to Las Vegas, to appearances with symphony orchestras, to the biggest music festivals in Europe, the Tex Pistols have built a reputation for great music and showmanship that is second to none in the music industry..."
- Brian Dojack, Local 446 AFM