- Our Town
Juno nominated High Bar Gang returns to Bowen
Sunday, February 23rd, marks the return of The High Bar Gang to Bowen Island and Cates Hill Chapel. This celebrated bluegrass group with two of Bowen Island’s own – Barney Bentall and Shari Ulrich as members, played one of its very first shows to a an enthusiastic sold out crowd at Cates Hill in early 2011. Their recently released debut CD on True North records - Lost and Undone: A Gospel Bluegrass Companion has been receiving rave reviews from the North America to the UK and Belgium.
Inspired by annual trips to the “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival” in San Francisco, leader Colin Nairne reconnected with the music of Dr. Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs, and heard some of the finest new bluegrass groups like the Punch Brothers and Crooked Still. It all served to push him to surrender to his vision of putting a bluegrass band together and Colin started making calls. “ My wife Wendy Bird sings, so she was in. Rob Becker is a great bassist and I’ve always wanted to play in a band with him so he got a call. Eric Reed plays mandolin and could cover the banjo parts so he was in. The lovely Angela Harris sings beautifully and harmonizes so well with Wendy. Now I’m thinking we need one more female voice that can cover the weird parts, ride shotgun over the vocal arrangements and play fiddle and that was Shari Ulrich (who joined kicking and screaming that she had no time to join another band). Barney Bentall jumped in to sing the low parts and play guitar. We had a rehearsal. Rob said if we are going to do this we need a gig, so we bought some cowboy suits and booked two nights at the Eagles Club in North Vancouver. Barney offered up the name “The High Bar Gang” after a lonely spot on the banks of the mighty Fraser River called ‘High Bar Canyon’. The club has a small banquet hall with an even smaller stage and caters mostly to meetings of the Ladies Auxiliary and community award ceremonies. We called our friends to buy tickets, with the main selling point that it had a bar with cheap drinks. Our good friend Tom Taylor agreed to open the show, giving us the piece of mind that if we failed miserably he could come back onstage and play for the folks while we snuck out the back. On September 24th and 25th 2010 a very nervous High Bar Gang took the stage.”
When it cam time to record, Colin explains “We learned the songs from an ever expanding list of gospel chestnuts Ry provided us [Colin is the project manager for Ry Cooder], and found the ones that worked for us. This became the Lost and Undone: A Gospel Bluegrass Companion record. The performances are of us live. No overdubs, no punching in. In Barn’s living room. Four microphones. Mono.”
The High Bar Gang’s roots run deep on Bowen Island and they are pleased to celebrate the release of the new album with the many Bowen bluegrass fans,
Presented by the Bowen Island Arts Council, tickets for the 7:30pm performance on Sunday, Feb. 23 are available at The First Credit Union, The Gallery @ Artisan Square, or on line at www.biac.com