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Bowen jazz musicians are back in “heaven”
Friday nights are live music nights at Doc Morgan’s pub, and while this is great for people who like to listen, it just might be even better for the Island’s jazz musicians.
“After months of whining because we had nowhere to play, we’ve finally got a steady gig,” says bass player Rob Bailey.
Bailey and guitarist Tuen Schut are at the core of a wider group of local musicians equally thrilled to have the opportunity to play.
“Sometimes we’re a duo, which I enjoy,” says Bailey. “But with a trio there’s more opportunity for us to riff-off each other, but still some empty space to fill in the gaps. If someone else wants to come out and play, that’s just a different adventure, a different conversation.”
Bailey and Schut are often accompanied by drummer Buff Allen, and if Allen’s not available, David Morris steps in. Steve Fisk occasionally joins in on either guitar or bass, John Stiver plays guitar; and occasionally Mary Kastle joins in on keys.
Ask Schut how this scene formed on Bowen and he’ll name a half-dozen incarnations of it.
“For a while I played with Christie Grace at Artisan Eats, the acoustics sucked but the crowd was really into the music,” he says. Then there was Tuscany, then there was Gino Rutigliano’s old place. Then Schut and Bailey took on Friday nights at Doc’s in 2011, when the new owner told them his wife was a jazz fanatic.
“It was a very nice scene,” says Schut. “Very relaxed, and friendly with a lot of regulars. And because it is so hard to get gigs as a jazz musician, even in Vancouver, we were able to bring some really amazing musicians over here to play with us.”
Bill Koon, Kirsten Nash, and the late, great, Ross Taggart all made the trip to Bowen for the Friday night gig.
“For me, it was a thrill to just meet Ross,” says Bailey. “It was a great night with a ton of laughs, I was really looking forward to having him come back here but, unfortunately he got sick.”
After fifteen months, Docs shut down suddenly. The Snug Cafe stayed open late with a liquor license once a week through the summer to for a live music night and kept Schut and Bailey employed temporarily.
After that, the only jazz gigs on Bowen were ones they organized themselves.
“But we started knocking on the door at Docs before it was even open,” says Bailey.
Through the summer, the bar was too busy keeping up with the Bowen Island tourist season to consider it.
“We were just packed, we could hardly keep up,” says Docks co-owner Brad Rypien. “But then people kept coming in and saying, ‘You gotta get those jazz guys in, they used to have a regular gig here and it was fantastic!
Now heading into its third month, Friday night at Docs is going strong.
“We’ll try to keep it going through the winter,” says Ripyen. “Those guys are good for business.”
You can also catch Teun Schut playing with Buff Allen, Steve Fisk and Wayne Kozak on sax at Bowen Court on Saturday.