Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Music on Vancouver Island, gigging and busy boy...

The previous blog I posted was in January. I can’t believe how time goes flying by. Here we are in March and I’m finally getting a chance to get back to the blog. The first quarter of the year has been a busy one with the “Acoustic Monday” shows at the Queen’s Hotel in Nanaimo and the Hygrade party rock cover band picking up pace as well. Hygrade has done a series of shows at different venues in the Nanaimo area, as well as up and down the island. The repertoire of well known dance and sing-a-long rock tunes played with a wailing harmonica in the mix seems to be going over very well and gaining popularity. Hygrade has shows coming up at the Timberland Pub in Cassidy, the French Creek Marine pub in Parksville and the Cranberry in Cedar over the next couple of months. Dates can be found on my BoodAbooM website. Beyond some recording projects and working on new videos, the “Acoustic Monday” shows have been great fun working them as the BoodAbooM Duo with my friend, bassist Marisha Devoin.
Click here for a video clip from one of the shows. The Next Queen’s Acoustic Monday show is on St. Paddy’s day March 17th starting at 7 PM. Elf Song is on the line up with their penny whistles and Celtic flavour to honour the day. 4 acts for a low $5 cover charge and there is a great chinese food kitchen associated with the venue. Dinner followed by a great music show.

This week I am the featured artist on Tom Lambert’s syndicated show from Ireland which rebroadcasts on over 200 internet and other radio stations. This of course brought a huge smile to my face as it helps the music and the message reach out across the world. What message? That love is “The Answer”. As well, I was asked to write a blog / article for Canadian Musicians. So, remember to be kind to each other and here’s what I wrote about being a musician on Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island is one of the most beautiful places in Canada to live. Most times the winters are mild, spring and fall are wet but it give folks more reason to go to the night clubs. Summer time on Vancouver Island is festival season, time for the outdoor art shows which often feature music performances as well. In the early Fall the community fairs and exhibitions offer places for island musicians to perform and for others to listen to the abundant musical talent living on Vancouver Island.

Let me enlighten you as to why I think Vancouver Island is a great place for musicians. First off the climate means very little travelling in sub zero weather. Although we do get our occasional big dump of snow, the norm around here is decent travelling weather and reputed to have the mildest climate in Canada. Having literally performed from one tip to the other of this paradise island, I speak from experience when I say the next gig up the street is not really that far away. The entire island is 460 Km long and 80 Km wide at it’s widest point. Vancouver island is covered with vast uninhabited areas which are mostly forest, mountains and valleys. With a decent industrial base, folks do have money for entertainment of one form or the other which always helps the musicians cause. The bulk of Vancouver Island’s 760,000 people live in the greater Victoria area on the southern tip of the island consisting of about 360,000 folks, about 98,000 in the mid island Nanaimo region. Duncan, Courtney, Campbell River, Parksville / Oceanside and a host of other small communities comprise the rest.  Obviously gigs are more plentiful in more populated areas, although for myself being based out of Nanaimo there isn’t a single music venue anywhere on the island that isn’t within a days drive.  Vancouver, being a North American major music center is only a ferry ride away.

We have a thriving music scene with each major community having a host of coffee house venues, pubs, nightclubs and bistros with live music. Rock, reggae, folk, celtic, bluegrass, country, jazz, childrens music, metal and funk, you name it and it can be found on the island. There are more recording artists living on Vancouver Island than I can mention in this blog. Nearly all the larger population centres have first rate recording studios, many of which are so busy they do little if any advertising. We even have our own “Vancouver Island Music Awards” which is a well attended annual event hosted by James Kasper honouring the best of the previous year’s V.I. artist releases. Musical gatherings are happening up and down the island on virtually a daily basis. There are several songwriter circle gatherings, folk guilds, open mics, showcases and jams in nearly every community. A little networking, attending a few open stages and it doesn’t take long for the musical world of V.I. to open up for you.

We’ve had quite a few award winning musicians come from Vancouver Island from Carly Rae Jepson to David Foster, Diana Krall, Nelly Furtado, Christine and Ingrid Jensen, David Gogo, Randy Bachman, Valdy and the list goes on. Many more musical artists of notoriety have migrated to Vancouver Island as a place of refuge and inspiration. Places like Cathedral Grove and Long Beach Tofino are the kinds of locations that are steeped in spirit and offer the sort of environment songwriters thrive on.

There are many relatively unknown stellar musicians on this magnificent island and with a little ingenuity, effort, networking and diligence, everything a musician could want is here. From the weekend rock shows to the bars, night clubs, bistros, coffee houses, restaurants and lounges, there are plenty of places to catch some live music and obviously just as many places to perform. Small, medium and larger concert halls in most communities host music acts from classical to jazz, rock, blues and children's music. During the summer months Vancouver Island blossoms with farmer’s markets, free outdoor shows in community amphitheatres, all of which provide platforms for potential performances as well as entertainment. Come on out to the west coast and join the fun on Vancouver Island. It’s a different pace in a different place, you may never want to leave.

Until later, Brother T