Back to top

Daily Dose — Arcana Kings Band Set to Perform with The Headstones

The Arcana Kings, with lead singer John McCuaig (second from left) and guitar aficionado James Picton (far right) from Nelson inked an amazing deal to play alongside Canadian Rock Band Headstones. — Submitted photo

Arcana Kings, headed by Nelson lead singer Johnny McCuaig, has made significant strides internationally.

The band has played in Las Vegas for the last several years at a massive outdoor concert.  

And later this month will join the Headstones as special guests for an upcoming Canadian tour.

“That’s pretty intense. There are usually 20 to 50 thousand people,” says Nelson's own Johnny McCuaig.

“We’ve been really lucky over these years. We were in Estonia last year. We've been to Japan and Sweden, all over the world. I’m not a young guy anymore, but I still live like it, travelling and doing rock music.”

McCuaig, born and raised in Nelson, explains how music came into his life when he was young.

“I did a music program in elementary school, and that’s what got me started. It’s been an awesome journey being from Nelson and traveling all over the world playing music.”

McCuaig, who lives in Nelson when he's not touring with wife Stacy and children Jack and Ellie, is referring to the program at South Nelson Elementary, where he learned guitar, keyboards, and bass drums as a child.

“It was an amazing program. By the time I was in Grade 6,7, we were touring other elementary schools. It was incredible. I owe it to all my music teachers.”

McCuaig comes from a musical family.

“After high school, I played in a band with my mom. I was the drummer, and we played in legions and around, doing old-time country music. I went on the road with the band for a couple of years.”

Next, he toured with his brother for a while and then played with Wide Mouth Mason, before they signed onto a major label.

“I’ve been in music my whole life. Touring is in my blood,” says McCuaig.

The Arcana Kings have been around for six years, but the band's roots go further back. The first variation was called McCuaig in 1998; then, it was Johnny McCuaig Band.

“We changed the name after we played Vegas a few times because nobody could find us on social media because they couldn’t spell McCuaig,” says McCuaig

“We changed to Arcana Kings. Arcane means secrets and mysteries which tie into the bagpipe, mystic druid-type thing. We are rock and roll with bagpipes which has its mystique.”

One band member is local guitar aficionado James Picton, who, like McCuaig, grew up in Nelson. The other band members are from Saskatchewan.

“We take this very seriously. This isn’t a garage band. This is a way of life for us,” says McCuaig.

The band is working on a brand-new album and has one song completed, “Soldier On.” The band wanted to find a way to give back during the pandemic.

As McCuaig’s sister is in the military and the band’s bass player was, they donated a portion of online merchandise sales to a Canadian organization supporting soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Soldier On.

The band worked closely with the organization, and McCuaig wrote the song “Soldier On” using written reflections from soldiers in this program. The song will be released in 2023.

The band hopes to play soon in Nelson, but the tour will keep them busy for the coming months, says McCuaig.

“We’ve been so busy playing everywhere else. I would so love to play a home show here. We embrace and never forget where we’re from, and we really want to perform here for people when we can.”

For more information on the Arcana Kings check out the band's website.