A look of disbelief flashes across his face as he sits in the studio, retelling of the moment his show was greenlighted to return to the screen.
Nearly two decades ago, Manfred Harter’s popular Shaw Okanagan TV program was taken off the air. But after a summer of elbow grease and planning, Manfred’s Guitar is making its return to channel 11 Monday.
“I can’t believe it actually happened. It seemed like a dream that just kept going,” Harter said as he watched the pilot episode on YouTube. “It’s absolutely insane.”
Recorded in Gallery Vertigo, the 28-minute program kicks off with an enthusiastic Harter rocking his tune Canada From Coast to Coast before introducing the first of the night’s local guest musicians, Cadillac Bob.
“It’s really about getting information about guitar players in the area, and it works,” Harter said. “I want to focus on other musicians too, but everyone’s got a guitar.”
Following Harter’s classic formula of interviews and interludes, Manfred’s Guitar also features Dan Thorsen, Tristan Charbonneau (Soulstice Creation) and April Sheehan.
“Dan wasn’t scheduled in the beginning, but then I found out about him two weeks before the show. I think he was influenced by Jeff Healey,” Harter said, adding that once he heard Thorsen play, he had to add him to the lineup.
“The show is very organic. It’s very honest. I try to throw in a little bit of everything,” Harter said, noting the variance in musical styles from performer to performer. “It’s very personable.”
Also in the vein of the original ’90s show, Harter insists that guests teach him a new dittie.
“I’m a lifelong learner,” Harter said.
But for Harter, the show’s creator, access producer and host, it’s all about the performers.
“These people are going to be seen all over the province because of this. Everyone who has Shaw can see these people,” Harter said. “That’s all I care about.”
The Okanagan is home to immense musical talent, Harter said, but the people here don’t have the same opportunities to make themselves known as performers in Vancouver have.
“Promoting Vernon. That’s me. That’s where my brain is,” Harter said. “It’s all for them. I get my jollies, but it doesn’t matter.”
It’s a show that Harter is excited to bring back from its 1993-1998 run.
“It’s very funny. There’s a lot of revivals of old stuff because it’s better than what’s out now,” Harter said.
“What’s the difference between classical music and popular music? It’s time.”
During the show’s downtime, Harter had reignited the show offline as a concert at Gallery Vertigo. The offline series reached three episodes, but in the back of his mind, Harter knew he wanted to bring it back to the screen.
He went to Shaw TV, and the rest is history.
“They bent over backwards for me,” Harter said, adding how grateful he has been for their help in reigniting the show.
The next episode is slated to drop in January. The pilot episode is available in full on YouTube.