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Sault-born singer wins Alberta Man of Country Music award (5 photos)

After retiring from the military, Joe Mattalo has found a career in country music

Joe Mattalo was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, growing up in Jamestown.

At an early age, Mattalo had a unique experience that started him on a musical journey.

He saw Elvis perform and was brought on stage during that performance.

“I did see Elvis as an eight-year-old boy on a Vegas trip,” says Mattalo, who notes he started playing guitar that same year. 

“I loved to play his songs at an early age. I started to write and play music later on after I joined the military.”

Mattalo left the Sault in 1984 to join the Canadian Armed forces.

“I was then stationed in Lahr, Germany where I started playing guitar and singing in my regiment and started to play in bars.”

In 1997, Mattalo was approached to play Daytona Europe, a rock festival that was held in Lahr, Germany in 1997.

The festival featured artists like James Brown, Bon Jovi, Scorpions, Deep Purple and Sammy Hagar.

At that show, Mattalo performed in front of 60,000 people.

Not coincidentally, one of Mattalo’s songs hit number 18 on the charts in Germany.

“I returned [home] from Germany after I retired from the forces in 2000,” says Mattalo.

“I started playing local venues like the Rosie and Reggie’s and with various Sault musicians.”

One local Sault musician had a special impact on Mattalo – local music legend, the late Terry Becker.

“I am self-taught but Terry did help me along with some scales and tips and tricks.

 [He] inspired and taught me to play lead guitar.”

Mattalo left Sault Ste. Marie in 2015 to pursue music full-time.

“I figured the best place for a country music artist was Alberta and I was not wrong,” he says.

He quickly became a local favourite and made friends with an old rodeo star and Alberta hero, Ivan Daines.

“Ivan and I performed many gigs together and he invited me to play his annual event which I have done every year since I have been here.”

Daines was inducted into the Alberta Country Music Hall of Fame in 2019.

“His good friend and Canadian legend Ian Tyson attended the event with us. Ian told me he loved my voice and that was the biggest compliment I could have ever imagined,” says Mattalo, who noted that he has since backed Tyson at a few shows.

Hard work and persistence has paid off for Mattalo.

He was awarded the Alberta Man of Country Music award for 2021.

“The award is part of the Alberta Country Music Association and is given to Alberta musicians who represent the genre here in Alberta and in the world,” he says.

“It was a great honour to be presented the award by Ivan.”

In attendance for the award were Donna and Leroy Anderson.

Donna is the daughter of Canadian Hall of Fame radio broadcaster Don Ramsay. [They were] regulars on the Tommy Hunter Show.”

Mattalo met the Andersons three years ago, after they had retired from Nashville, relocating to Calgary.

“I [also] performed last year with them at Ivan’s annual event.”

For Mattalo, he intends to continue writing and performing.

“I have toured the last three years with my Keeping Country 'Country' show and plan to visit the Sault with Donna and Leroy once things open up,” he says.

“My show consists of real country music, not country pop and what I call 'hic-hop'. The show seems to attract real country music lovers and it has been doing real well.”

Find out more about Joe Mattalo by visiting his website here.