Medley back on the Island

Sue Medley has toured with Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp, and received a slew of music awards along the way.

SINGER SUE MEDLEY is back on Vancouver Island

SINGER SUE MEDLEY is back on Vancouver Island

Sue Medley has toured with Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp, performed at the Juno Awards and on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and received a slew of music awards along the way.

Now the singer/songwriter has started a new chapter in her life by returning to her Comox roots.

“I was really young when I made up my mind to be a singer/entertainer,” says Medley. “I was determined to do it. But when I got out in the real world, I learned it was a lot tougher than I thought.

“I feel so fortunate to have experienced what I did — both musically and personally. But there was definitely a bit of the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Born in Nanaimo, Medley lived in Dawson Creek and Fernie for her first few years. But it was the Comox Valley that became — and still is — home.

After graduating from Vanier Secondary, Medley took her ambitions to Vancouver. She hooked up with a country rockabilly band and started writing her own songs which led to some West Coast Music Awards.

“That’s when it all started to happen,” recalls Medley. “After I got an award, a guy from Polygram Records gave me his card and I ended up signing with them.”

Medley was the first artist Polygram had recruited in years. At that time most of their library was classical music.

“They were taking a big risk with me,” says Medley. “I couldn’t believe it was happening. I still had it in my head that I was a small-town girl and all of a sudden I had a record label.”

Medley admits it was overwhelming. Almost overnight the 25-year-old was staring in videos, on television shows and featured in magazines and newspapers across Canada. People came up to her on the street asking for autographs.

“I have to hand it to Polygram,” says Medley. “I had a slight country edge to my music backed by a roots rock base. It didn’t really fit with the radio sound of the late 1980s. Polygram took a chance on me and it really paid off.”

But it was stressful. Medley knew she had to be at her very best for every show, as they were all reviewed in mainstream media.

“It involved an incredible amount of work and stamina,” she explains. “I’d be on the touring bus all night, check into a hotel around 7 a.m. then do phone interviews before showering and cleaning up to do meet-and-greets at record stores and radio shows. Then we’d head to the venue for a sound check and get ready to perform. After the concert, it was right back on the bus again.

“That happened over and over again 24 hours a day. There was a lot of extreme pressure and some intense moments.”

“But it was also a lot of fun,” she adds. “I appreciate it more now than I did at the time. It’s hard to think clearly when you’re not getting enough sleep or eating the right kind of food.”

Aside from a beer after a gig, Medley and her band were too busy to get seriously into drugs and alcohol. “We were a hard-working band machine,” she says. “We were always touring, rehearsing or recording. There wasn’t time to get into trouble.”

Medley toured with Bob Dylan for a while.

“It was amazing,” she says. “He’s a living legend and just being on the same bill with him propelled my record to gold status.”

“It was interesting; we’d be at the venue and one of Dylan’s people would say, ‘Mr. Dylan has entered the building, you have to stay in your dressing rooms now.’ His drivers and sound crews warmed up to us over time but he was always referred to as ‘Mr. Dylan.’ ”

“He asked to meet me once,” she adds. “I had just got off stage and was all sweaty and pumped with adrenaline. I said, ‘Hi Bob,’ and he said he liked my jacket. At that time I had all my clothes handmade in Vancouver.”

“Another time he came into my dressing room on my birthday. The whole band was there and I was cutting a cake. He tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a box of chocolate cigars.”

But then things changed at Polygram and Medley moved to Nashville, then Indiana and Illinois. “Everything tapered off,” she says. “I wasn’t performing or making records. I lost my focus and faith in myself. Then I went to Bosnia to entertain the troops and that changed everything. When I got back to the States I took my dog, guitar and suitcase and moved to L.A.”

Medley tried to get back into her former life but soon decided she’d lost her momentum. “I started teaching voice and guitar and that started me on a long journey of working with kids. I got to use everything I’d learned over the years and encourage them – I really love it.”

Ten years later she felt like it was time to come home. “I had no sense of community in L.A.” she says. “Family’s what’s important to me. I’m so happy to be home.”

Medley’s still teaching music, sings with Time Well Wasted and is collaborating on an album with John Mang that will be released this fall.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” she says. “My voice is the best it’s ever been and I’m really excited about writing and being creative. All the songs come from my life experience, the good, the bad, the life changing. It’s a good stretch of my musical boundaries.”

“I was so lucky to get to perform in places like London, Hong Kong and Egypt and meet people like Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder,” she adds. “Sometimes I think I’ll write my memoirs just to get it all down.”

In the meantime, Medley will perform at the Mex Pub with Time Well Wasted on June 23, at Nautical Days and, of course, the fall launch for her new CD.


Just Posted

The CF Snowbirds in action. (Erin Haluschak photo)
Homecoming for B.C.-raised Snowbirds pilot training in the province

Capt. Arpit Mahajan flies Snowbird 2 in his first year as a solo pilot with the team

Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North is accepting homeownership applications for its next build. Photo supplied
Habitat for Humanity prepares for next build in Courtenay

A forever home for some, a step forward for others

The development permit application for the back of a property at 2522 Dunsmuir Ave has now been approved by council. Record file photo
Cumberland approves secondary home permit second time around

Mayor Leslie Baird said the applicant’s additional drawings provided more info for her

This house at 1514 Trumpeter Cres. is currently for sale, with a disclaimer that the property was used for a cannabis grow operation in the past. Photo by Record staff
Drug trafficking at Courtenay residence nets over $250K forfeiture

Ruling comes from a search warrant executed in 2016 on Trumpeter Crescent home

The inaugural board meeting for the last UBID board was held online May 6. Screenshot, Zoom meeting
Union Bay board says no to ‘No’ side committee addition

Community is preparing to move its services to regional district for July

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)

Most Read