Bowen Island is a community of communities — including a surprising number of musicians. Many of them are current or past professionals who’ve spent their lives in the Vancouver scene. Others, like me, drifted to the coast from places east. But the music community is much broader than that. On any given night, houses around Bowen host assorted groups of singers and players with every level of skill and experience and every kind of musical taste.
At least that’s the way it was until March of 2020.
March 7 was the date of the annual Coffee House at Cates Hill Chapel. I played with two of my bandmates from The Sixties Band: Peter Clarke and Peter McLean. (Our fourth member, lucky for us, is David Graff). It was a great evening, with performances by many of Bowen’s favourite for-fun ensembles and solo artists. Talk of the pandemic was already in the air. But it was after The Sixties’ practice the following week that we learned something really bad was underway. That was our last rehearsal for 16 months.
Our band had got together a year or so earlier. We had just begun playing publicly when the pandemic hit. We’d played the Pub in January and had four gigs lined up. It was pretty exciting for a band that only accepts members in their sixties, or beyond, and plays only ’60s music.
We’re all aware that good health isn’t something that can be relied on after a certain age. Yes, the Rolling Stones are much older than we are and are still out there playing. But they’ve had the benefit of dedicating their ample free time and limitless resources to staying fit and healthy. (Okay, maybe not Keith.) And they have roadies, lots of them. We have to carry our own gear. It’s getting heavier.
So in March 2020 we were disappointed, to say the least, when we had to stop rehearsing and all our performances were cancelled. Our time left to do a decent job playing and singing is not unlimited. We had no idea then that this would last so long. But, finally, in August of this year, fully-vaccinated, we were able to start rehearsing again after happily agreeing to play a scaled-back Bowfest. And now, on November 20, we’ll be playing at what we hope will be a full Bowen Island Pub (with all health measures fully adhered to).
As Joni Mitchell most famously said, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. We’re grateful to be part of Bowen’s community of musicians. And we’re very happy to be able to play for the larger Bowen community again. So we feel it’s only right to use our Pub performance to contribute in our small way to all the communities on Bowen. We’ll be asking for donations for the Bowen Island Community Foundation in lieu of a cover charge.
Live music is back. Please join us Sat., Nov. 20, 7 p.m.