He was always ready to support a community cause.
My fondest memory of Sab came the night I got engaged. My wife and I decided to walk over to Mickey J's for a celebratory drink. Sab was performing. At one point, he asked if anyone was celebrating a birthday, anniversary or special event. After finding out we had just gotten engaged, the rest of the evening essentially became our own private celebration. I don't think my body was designed to ingest so many cherry whiskey shots.
A real class act.
Passing of a local music legend â€“ Sab 2 By John Emms, The Daily Press-freelance
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 9:02:56 EDT PM
With a heart bigger than Canada is wide and talent to match his big personality Peter Sabourin aka SAB was the living, breathing soul of the what it meant to live for music whatever the stage big or small, home or away.
Sab passed away Tuesday night from a long battle with cancer at the age of 51, survived by his wife Tina, daughters Chessa and Talia and loved by long time band members, fans, and friends.
As I sit here saddened, I reflect on the lyrics to one of his most popular songs Friendships a song recorded by Ronnie Hawkins and Kris Kristofferson.
â€œWell I seen a lot from a different side. And I know what it means. Iâ€™d trade it all for one yesterday, I still believe in wishes and dreams. Iâ€™d ask for Friendship, yeah not for hardship, Iâ€™d ask for your friendship, Yes thatâ€™s it, Iâ€™d really wish youâ€™d still be part of my dreams"
That song tore me up the last time I watched him and the band perform it live as Sab was battling to hang in there with his cancer running through his body.
It struck the audience through the heart, bouncing off the venue walls, shaking dust and settling inside your gut.
Just like a great song and performance should.
Sab of course was the co-founder of Porquis Blues Festival and for close to 10 years, he was the driving musical force, promoter, and of course confidence man.
Through it all, he did not see eye to eye with everyone on the direction the festival should take, but he brought joy to thousands where his set was often the highlight for many fans.
Many of those years, I would find myself with our band The Shaftmen booked on that same stage, but also as a guest with Sab and his Family Band.
A great band rooted by his close friend and bassist for over 20 years, Danny Waxxie Belbin, featuring Brent Ogletree, Lisa Gibson. Brent Bailey Zach Zacharoff, and often Timmins alumni musicians such as the amazing talent of Lee Holmes, Monty Kirkpatrick, Yvon Clouthier and Moe Guiho.
Our musical moments when the two of us fronted the band were a treat.
Literally seconds before heading on stage at Porquis Blues Festival or at other venues, and despite much conversation about many of lifeâ€™s other matters, Sab would look and say to me with his famous wink and loopy grin, â€œEmmsy, get ready to come up and sing with me and the band.â€
Of course I would say when?
"Youâ€™ll know," he remarked with that cherry whiskey-soaked voice that became his trademark for thousands of people across Ontario and beyond.
Then, when the time came and the Family Band would be in high gear, Sab and I would assume our frontman stance and launch into covering Mustang Sally or In The Midnight Hour, despite both of us having nearly eight or more original albums between us.
At this moment, all of us knew what to do, but as a guest vocalist, it was literally like coming off the bench in the third period on the power play.
It always worked. Never once failed. It was easy.
Just like our friendship.
I helped him, he helped me, and in the times since his cancer would become big news, our conversations short, or long, in person, but many times on the phone because we lived seven hours apart, were never forced but were very natural.
I treasured those times, those ravaged voice messages, from his home, his hospital bed and after his farm house which was in the family from his great grandfather burned to the ground.
Sometimes, I feel guilty I did not return them in prompt fashion.
But I did return them.
Most people donâ€™t realize Sab sold thousands of CDs from the stage.
Singing and playing from 13 years of age and a native of the Pembroke area, he performed with Ronnie Hawkins, Kris Kristofferson, Downchild Blues Band, Michael Burgess, Dutch Mason, Jason Blaine and many, many others.
Sab would never be Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Guy or whoever and I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ll be writing for Rolling Stone Magazine or jamming with Van Morrison but you have to have the light of passion burn it.
Sab, had that passion .
Because the gig will always go on.
The last times we spoke he always glossed over my questions on his health.
Yet, Sab had that inner light.
A man for all seasons.
The loving family man, the bad boy, the songwriter, the performer, the road warrior.
I will see you one more time
Because as you once wrote: â€œThose Northern boys are coming home again.â€
â€” John Emms is a long-time writer of the Timmins music scene longtime in addition to being a local songwriter and musician.