Author Archives: Willy Blizzard

In Loving Memory of our bandmate Fran Madigan

Fran MadiganWe are mourning the loss of our longtime bandmate, Fran Madigan. He died of that modern medical scourge known as cancer, January 9, 2022, surrounded by his loved ones. We knew Fran’s diagnosis was terminal, he was always up-front about it. In fact, Fran had come to a place of acceptance, with grace and gratitude.

The ones who are struggling with acceptance are those left behind. I can truthfully say that Fran was a great musical partner. Our musical collaboration began decades years ago. I was doing a solo pub gig in the Dover Arms on Denman Street, back when musicians were actually paid for live entertainment! In the darkness in the back of the pub, I could hear the most amazing vocal harmonies. Not knowing who it was, after my first set I asked “Who is doing that amazing singing back there?” It was Francis Madigan. He brought his guitar down the next night and the rest, as they say, is history.

Our gigs in the earlier days of Whistler, before the days of Blackcomb, are among my favourite musical memories. By day our recreation was lake fishing, and at night we rocked it up in Tapley’s Pub. They were good times!

Our final musical project was our trio Willy Blizzard. Along with my wife Andrea on double bass, Fran added banjo, guitar and amazing vocals. Fran’s dry sense of humour literally saved us during hard times on the road. We are so thankful to have had these many years with Fran.

Fran lived life on his own terms, more than anyone I know. He was a humble man with a head full of intelligent thoughts and ideas, he was independent, and he believed in justice. The great pride that Fran did hold dear, was the pride he felt in his two children, Kevin and Emily.

Roll that rock, Fran!

John and Andrea

New album pre-release!

Willy Blizzard’s latest album Armadillo Road delivers their signature indie-roots sound in nine original songs written by lead vocalist John Hough. The songs are diverse in theme and place in the way that a songwriter tends to wander, like the band itself. You’ll hear Southern influences here, as well as songs true to their Northern roots. Includes guest appearances from Juno award winner Lester Quitzau, Jeffrey Hatcher (Blues Shadows w/ Billy Cowsill), Adam Dobres (Wailin’ Jenny’s guitar player) all backing the warm three-part vocals of Willy Blizzard. And of course, original art work by our own bass player Andrea.  Listen to our new album 

All aboard!

We are privileged to play live music aboard Via Rail’s flagship passenger service. It doesn’t get any better than this: a band called “Blizzard” playing Canadian indie-roots music on a train crossing the snowy landscape.  So civilized.

Haney Wharf Concert Series

It’s always a pleasure to play music outside, especially on the banks of the mighty Fraser River.  This sweet little concert series in Maple Ridge takes advantage of gorgeous sunsets reflected on the moving water, looking out across to giant Cottonwoods.
Willy On The Wharf

Good-bye Frontier Inn

Life on the road is tough for touring musicians.  So it was time to say a fond farewell to our home on wheels that took us to over three hundred gigs.  This old beauty of motor home (32 years young) served us so well for our music itinerary, and was much loved in return.  This picture shows where we stayed on Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland.  We are now delighted to report that this vintage van has found a new home in BC’s Gulf Islands, where we can enjoy visiting rights.
Frontier Inn