For fifty years, Norman Glowach has been playing music in Yellowknife. He started playing the drums, but he also sings and plays guitar. Growing up in Yellowknife, Norm has been fortunate to play many styles of music. At an early age, he played in school bands and stage bands. Professionally, he’s played old time music, fiddle music, country music, rock & roll, jazz and blues. These musical experiences all come out in the music he writes and records. He has run his studio, Spiritwalker Productions, for over 30 years in downtown Yellowknife. Norm credits the driving force behind his persona Johnny Cole and the musical Meet Me at the Rex to be the pictures and stories of his family’s history. Norman started Meet Me at the Rex eleven years ago when he began searching for ancestors on his mother’s side. At that time, he was working at the NWT Archives. This gave him an understanding of how to access data from the various levels of archives in Canada. As information and images came forward about his ancestors, songs started to come to him. At that point, he didn’t have the idea of creating a production containing these songs – he was just trying to understand his roots. He began to understand his ancestors’ role in the development of Canada.
In his search, Norm was able to find French and Irish roots in the Red River Colony who mixed with Indigenous peoples, creating the Métis who populated Western Canada. As the show was coming together, long-time friends came forward to give him direction. One friend told him the roots he was writing about had a common theme: a story that was similar to that of many other Métis in our country. This gave focus to the project and has been a theme in shaping this show. Norm’s family roots run deep in Canada. Over the years, the branches stretched to Yellowknife. The production is called Meet Me at the Rex as an homage to Norman’s grandparents, who were the owners of this popular cafe from 1941 -1966. The Rex was a meeting place and home to many stories of how his family came to Yellowknife. He chose the 1950s time period to tell the story as this was a significant era for the Café. Norm has said, “At times, I’ve felt like my ancestors were guiding me in the writing of the songs, the searching for information, and are present during the live productions.” Come on in, sit down, and have some coffee and pie. Meet me at the Rex.