Kevin Assoun and his shovel guitar. (Contributed)

Maple Ridge’s Shovel Playing Man to be inducted into the BCCMA Hall of Fame

Kevin Assoun will receive the honour Oct. 21

A local country music legend who famously turned a coal miners shovel into a fully-functional electric shovel guitar, will be inducted into the B.C. Country Music Association Hall of Fame.

Kevin Assoun will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 42nd annual event with good friend, Hall of Fame recipient and past BCCMA director Terry Gray doing the honours.

Assoun was born in 1948 on a small farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and was the seventh son of nine children. At the age of 4 he was already showing signs of musical talent and in his early teens was making a name for himself playing anywhere he could. Assoun would eventually work in the coal mine, digging for what was then called ‘Black Gold’. The work was very dangerous and to ease the tension the miners would pretend to play guitar with their shovels, as they were lowered into the dark.

This was the inspiration for The Shovel Guitar that Assoun made in the late 1970’s from a #10 coal miner’s shovel using tuning pegs, strings and even a Popsicle stick. Although he also played the banjo and bass guitar, he became known as the Shovel Playing Man.

Assoun upgraded his shovel guitar in the early 1990’s extending the fret board to the size of a normal guitar. He started collecting signatures on it in 1996. Vince Gill was the first country music artist to sign it followed by the likes of Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Grandpa Jones. More than 65 signatures now adorn the front, back and straps of the guitar.

Assoun is planning to be at the awards show to receive the honour with his wife of 29-years Brenda Williams, who will be bringing along the shovel guitar.

He also has a CD for purchase for $10 with four songs including The Shovel Playing Man and The Devils Coal, both written by Rocky Swanson.

To purchase a CD email

The 42nd annual BCCMA Awards Show takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Molson Canadian Theatre, formally Red Robinson Theatre, at 2080 United Blvd., Coquitlam.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and tickets are $45 each.

The all-ages show is being hosted by Curtis Pope and Karen Lee Batten.

There will be a cash bar.

For more information or to purchase tickets call 604-533-5088.

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