A guitar, between friends

For the longest time, Louise Hardy couldn't even open the case that held the unfinished Spanish guitar her late husband had made. "The smell of it would come out," she said. "That beautiful smell.

For the longest time, Louise Hardy couldn’t even open the case that held the unfinished Spanish guitar her late husband had made.

“The smell of it would come out,” she said. “That beautiful smell.”

Few may know that Todd Hardy even made guitars.

But he did.

“It was his original career plan,” Hardy laughed.

And he made quite a few.

But there was only one Spanish guitar.

The couple travelled to Spain in 2005 so Todd could train under world-renowned master Jose Romanillos.

The integrity of the guitar was there, but the idea was to take it home and finish it on his own, Hardy said.

But shortly after they came back to the Yukon, Todd was diagnosed with leukemia.

“It was this relationship that we had with this guitar,” said Hardy, explaining why she couldn’t look at it. “Wanting it to be finished, wanting it to be played and knowing that, really, it wasn’t going to happen.”

At a point when things were looking better, Todd flew down to train with Vancouver-based, Geza Burghardt on the French-polish finishing.

But then he relapsed again.

“He just couldn’t stand in the shop, his hands cramped up and he just couldn’t use his hands any more to finish it,” Hardy said. “It never stopped him from trying, but physically he couldn’t do that anymore.”

Eventually, while going through some things around the house, Louise Hardy found the guitar again.

When he was still alive, Todd hinted at who he hoped it would go to.

The Hardys two sons came separately to her and said they wanted it to go to the same person. In her own mind, she too decided it couldn’t go to anyone else.

Ryan Enns grew up in Whitehorse, and, like his bandmates and many of his friends, he first met Todd on the ice.

“He was my hockey coach for quite a few years, and then he was my friend’s dad and then he was just my friend,” said Enns. “With the guitar building, we had a lot to talk about.”

Enns is the voice and guitarist of Whitehorse’s own Irish pub-party band, the Whisky Dicks.

But beneath the gruff lyrics, Celtic fiddle and floor-stomping rhythm, there are hints of very intricate guitar work.

While it may seem like a stretch to many, the frontman is also a classically trained guitarist.

“The intentions are different, but my motivation is the same,” said Enns about the two contrasting styles. “I just really like music from different places.”

Recently, Enns has moved with his Australian wife and two-year old child to the southern continent.

“I would take 30 below, over 30 above any day,” said Enns, confessing his procrastination techniques in the frozen food isles of the grocery stores and how he looks forward to the walk-in freezers at the liquor stores.

The move didn’t just bring heat, it brought on loneliness and some 20,000 kilometres between Enns and his band.

But this doesn’t mean the end of the Whisky Dicks, he said, noting that he still tours for severalmonths out of the year.

And for regular gigs, the band hires professional musicians who fill in, while drummer Mike Bell takes over vocals and guitar.

But the distance is tough.

“It’s really kind of weird because I’ve known Ryan since I was 12,” said Whisky Dicks fiddler Pat Ernst. “We’ve basically seen each other for the past 15 years and it’s sort of strange not having him around. It’s tough. But whenever he comes back it’s really nice to see him again.”

One of the biggest changes for Enns has been a lot more time to focus on his classical guitar work, and his budding solo career as a singer/songwriter.

He is planning on recording his first solo album soon.

“I’ve written a lot of songs that just wouldn’t work with the Whisky Dicks because they were just too wholesome,” Enns said. “I never set out to write a song, it always comes from somewhere else. I’ve written a lot of meaningful songs that really have no place in the Whisky Dicks’ set, because it always has to be party, party, party.”

For example, while they did record it on the Whisky Dicks latest album, a song called The Ballad of Bill the Beaver never gets played live.

It was inspired by Enns’ childhood playground at Snafu Lake.

“I only have one voice,” Enns says. “It’s just mostly the message and atheistic that’s really different. But I can’t really escape myself.”

And Enns’ playful character is just as evident in his solo work as it is with Whisky Dicks tunes. For instance, the song titled, Drinking, Drinking, Drinking, Drinking, Drinking, Drinking, Spew, may sound like a perfect Whisky Dicks hit, but it’s actually a part of Enns’ solo show. He wrote it soon after his baby was born.

Enns wrote a song when Todd Hardy died as well. The band contemplated recording it, as he was well known and respected by all the band members, but they decided against it.

A Song For Todd Hardy now makes up part of Enns’ solo portfolio, which he describes as “three chords and the truth.”

Enns’ show is an even mix between his solo songs and classical, and Spanish instrumental guitar music.

And while he will be in Whitehorse for this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, performing with the Whisky Dicks, Enns will also be doing a solo show on Sunday, with Todd’s guitar.

Shortly after the Hardy family gave him the guitar, Enns sent it back to Geza Burghardt.

While Burghardt is known around the world for his guitars, he has never finished someone else’s work.

He made an exception for Todd.

“I am so grateful that it will be played and that it gets to be played by Ryan,” said Louise Hardy. “Ryan is just such a kind, wonderful, wonderful man and that guitar could not go to anyone else.”

Hardy explained that in the last few months and weeks before Todd’s death, Enns was the only person outside of immediate family that she felt comfortable leaving Todd with.

“He came for tea, I think it was a week before Todd died, and I just thought, ‘Oh great.’ Everybody was gone and Ryan came by and I could just take off and go for a walk because he was in such great hands,” she said. “They had such a great relationship. It was really something.”

Enns’ show on Sunday is taking place at the Whitehorse United Church, starting at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation.

The Whisky Dicks are playing at Foxy’s on both Friday and Saturday night. Admission is $10 – or $5 if you wear all green. The shows start at 9:45 p.m.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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