When musician Joel West was at risk of sinking to rock-bottom, two things helped him stay afloat: his family and his music.
With the help of his loved ones, the Burns Lake man conquered alcohol and drug addiction during a two-month stint at a Kitimat treatment centre.
Now two years sober, the frontman of Joel West & Company last week played at the Canada Winter Games Opening Ceremony with his father Alec West Sr.
“Three years ago today I would never even think I’d be opening for the Winter Games and I’m doing that tomorrow,” he said in an interview with The Interior News last week.
The musician, who plays classic country and rock, grew up listening to those styles of music.
His father Alec Sr. and older brother Alec Jr. used to play in a band called Today’s Image.
West said he was inspired to play because he saw the way music brought joy to his family.
“When I was younger my dad would be playing a lot of music and I would see how happy it made everybody,” he said.
“They have way more fun when they saw my dad play or heard him play, he would bring out the guitar or the piano and I thought it was cool how much joy and happiness it brought everybody.”
But West had to earn his stripes before he was accepted into the family band.
Even when he thought he was ready, the musician had to wait until his older relatives, quite literally, gave him the nod of approval.
When his brother rejected him, West started practicing more to prove he was ready.
“I kept playing and jamming and jamming and jamming and a couple of months later we were jamming downstairs in the basement here at the house and we just tore it up, we just blew the roof off the joint,” he said.
“My brother looks up and I didn’t think he was going to say anything, but he looks up and he’s nodding his head and Dad said ‘yep, I think he’s ready’.”
Now Joel is the frontman of his own band, although he still plays with his father and a rotating group of friends and musicians.
The group will play at two family concerts in Gitanmaax and Kispiox later this month.
West said he was excited to be playing in front of a new crowd at a concert for families.
“I always enjoy playing for new crowds, different crowds.
“As long as there is somebody there and having fun.
“That’s my main goal, to let everybody have a good day.”
Joel West & Company will play at the Family Dance at Gitanmaax Hall on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. with Jaypee Muldoe and at Kispiox Hall on Feb. 21 with Blair Angus.