The husband and wife duo from New Brunswick, John and Lisa McLaggan or Tomato/Tomato, will perform Saturday as part of the KDAC concert series.

Kenneth Brown
of The Clarion

With a little bit bluegrass, a little bit folk and a little bit country, the next performers in the arts council’s 2017-18 series are an incredibly diverse married duo.

The traditional sound of folk and bluegrass music comes to Kindersley on Saturday. Tomato/Tomato, a husband a wife duo, performs at the Norman Ritchie Community Centre at 8 p.m. It is the fifth of eight concerts in the Kindersley & District Arts Council’s annual Stars for Saskatchewan series.

John and Lisa McLaggan are Tomato/Tomato. It should be known that the words tomato and tomato are pronounced differently. The duo has an energetic style and a unique stage setup to go along with John and Lisa’s wonderful harmonies and stories.

Tickets for arts council concerts are available at Lela’s Music Centre, LaBelle Boutique and Integra Tire. Tickets are also available online at and at the door if the show has not sold out.

People still have the option to purchase a four-pack of tickets to save a little money, but it is their final opportunity to buy a four-pack with only four concerts left including the Tomato/Tomato show on Saturday. Unused seasons tickets cannot be used for future concerts.

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According to an arts council member, Saturday’s concert will feature the usual format of two sets with an intermission. A band parents group serves snacks during intermission in return for a donation, and the bar will be open.

A biography on Tomato/Tomato states that the tight harmonies, John’s folky guitar and Lisa’s up-cycled percussion create an unmistakable sound that is unique, refreshing and fun. Local arts council members would have booked Tomato/Tomato at an Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils (OSAC) showcase.

John spoke on the phone from Regina where he and Lisa had a day off after their first four shows in Saskatchewan. John said he is from Saint John, N.B., and Lisa is from Chicago, Ill. The couple lives outside Saint John in Grand Bay–Westfield.

He noted that Tomato/Tomato has performed once in Saskatoon and once at the Regina Folk Festival in 2017, but those were the duo’s only two times performing in Saskatchewan before its current OSAC tour. He said he really enjoys performing on stages in smaller towns because people make an effort attend shows. Small towns also offer a more intimate experience than in larger towns and cities.

Block booking by OSAC allows musicians from across Canada to go on tours of small towns in Saskatchewan and John said for him and Lisa, “it’s really a luxury to tour this way.” He said the Atlantic Presenters Association is a regional organization similar to OSAC.

The duo has two full-length studio albums in addition to a Christmas album, and John and Lisa were in Nashville, Tenn. in January to record the music for their third studio album. John said they are looking for a label to pick up the album. Saskatchewan audiences are the first to hear a lot of their new music, he said.

John sings and plays the guitar while Lisa, who is a piano player, plays percussion on an old washboard, a cymbal and a tambourine while also playing a kick drum and snare drum with a special rig and her feet. Lisa also sings beautifully while she is busy with percussion, John said. He noted that he plays three guitars during the show, and he described the music as high-energy and diverse.

“There’s lots of variety (and) we keep mixing things up,” he said, adding that the duo plays traditional folk, old traditional bluegrass and alternative country while performing cover songs and original music. “We just try to keep it fun and interesting for everyone.”

John and Lisa are both trained jazz musicians that met each other in jazz school. He explained that the name Tomato/Tomato came about by accident when they were still playing jazz and they were known as the John and Lisa Duo.

They were sitting with friends discussing two options for the duo’s name. A friend blurted out that the variations were like “Tom-ay-to, Tom-ah-to” and a name was discovered. The name suits the husband and wife because they have different personality traits, and they play different styles of music, John added.