Tuesday nights will never be the same for blues aficionados after Patrick Monaghan, long-time host of the Buckslide Blues Cruise radio show on CanoeFM, signed off one final time July 25.
The popular DJ was revered across the continent for his love, and knowledge, of the blues industry. He spent eight years as an on-air personality for Haliburton County’s community radio station, recording 371 live shows for hundreds of avid listeners across the Highlands and beyond.
Monaghan passed away peacefully at his home July 25 following a four-year battle with pancreatic and lung cancer. Tributes have poured in over the past week for a man who lived his life with a smile permanently stretched across his face.
“Just a wonderful man. Anyone that knew him knows the trademark grin and thumbs up – he was a real people person,” close friend, Rusty Rustenburg, told The Highlander. “I was with him when he passed, and he was himself right up until the very end. An Irish warrior, and fierce lover of everything Blues.”
The pair met in 2018 after helping to organize a blues concert fundraiser for the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association. Monaghan invited Rustenburg onto his show, where they discovered they had more than just a love for music in common.
“So we’re sitting in the booth and he goes ‘what’s your hometown’ so I say, ‘Grimsby, Ontario’. He immediately said he was a Grimsby boy too. He’s two years older than me, we knew all the same people but had never crossed paths. So he went right on air and said ‘OK, listeners out there, if you’re looking for work, there’s two village jester openings down in Grimsby’. It was great,” Rustenburg said.
Ron Murphy, station engineer at Canoe, spent as much time with Monaghan as anyone over the past eight years.
“You couldn’t find a more dedicated guy. He gave everything he had to Buckslide Blues, it was his baby. His passion and his excitement would just resonate with people. You mentioned CanoeFM or the blues and he just lit up. Then you could never get him to shut up.”
Station manager Roxanne Casey said even after receiving his cancer diagnosis in 2019, Monaghan didn’t miss a beat. He would regularly schedule chemo treatments around his radio show commitments and was loath to miss a Tuesday session. Even towards the end, when the sickness was taking over, he pushed through – coming into Canoe July 18, a week before his passing, to go live.
“His partner, Christine, called earlier that day to say Patrick wouldn’t be in, he was in palliative care. He wasn’t responding well to treatment and was very weak. So, we started making other arrangements, then, come 4:30 p.m. there he was in the front lobby,” Casey said.
Rustenburg said the weekly show helped keep Monaghan going.
The awards came in thick and fast in recent years – in 2020 Buckslide Blues Cruise, and Monaghan, received the award for Best Jazz and Blues Programming from the National Campus and Community Radio Association. In 2022, he won Best in Music Programming in Blues or similar Music from the same organization, while also being named Blues Booster of the Year by the Toronto Blues Society
More recently, Monaghan had been working alongside Rustenburg and the Haliburton County Folk Society to organize the Haliburton Highlands Blues Festival, Aug. 25-26 at Haliburton Forest. Now, the event is being hosted in Monaghan’s honour.
“It’s going to be a wonderful tribute. We’ve got a couple of nice surprises planned that people who knew Pat will appreciate,” Rustenburg said. “It’s going to be a party to remember a great man. Patrick really was the Wolfman Jack of the Blues. Experts of the genre would tune in weekly because they always learned so much. And it did just as much for Pat, he came alive when that red light flashed on. It was as if the sickness was gone.”