Luke MacDonald, Grizzly Waves frontman and songwriter, dropped the first of seven videos in the Gust of Wind Concert Series last week.
Set against the scenic backdrop of Clayoquot Sound, the Gust of Wind Concert Series features West Coast musicians singing their hearts out at seven unique locations.
“Essentially, we wanted to shine a light on our music community and the beautiful spots that have influenced the musicians playing in these locations,” said MacDonald, who kicks off the series playing three songs in an Old Growth forest near Tofino’s Tonquin Beach.
The second video features Geoff Johnson from Virgin Falls, who is followed by Kieran Campbell from the Rosie Bay Tidal Cave. Then we have Willie Thrasher from C’isaqis, the place where Tla-o-qui-aht Chief Moses Martin famously said to loggers during the ’80s protests, “I would like to ask you to join us for a meal, but you have to leave your chainsaws in your boats.”
Ben and Sarah, the winners of the West Coast Screech play from Island Shores, Steve Bick performs from Freedom Cove, and the final video is Haida artist Ms. PAN!K from Wickaninnish Island.
MacDonald said all the videos are about 15-minutes long, with the exception of Willie Thrasher, who has an extra special story to tell.
“Willie Thrasher is something to be witnessed. He is punk rock before that was a term,” he said, adding that all seven videos feature original material and each artist was paid for the gig.
“We were working with a very modest budget, which is one of the reasons I included myself as the opener, so I could keep the budget low. I didn’t pay myself as an artist,” he said.
Last year, MacDonald was contracted by Tofino Arts Council and the District of Tofino to revamp Gust of Wind as a virtual experience; Gust of Wind was once an original artist studio in Tofino’s downtown core (now it’s parking lot behind the radio station). He teamed up with videographer Lee Poichuk and got to work.
“We filmed seven videos over a two week period last summer. It was kind of insane. Doing outdoor recordings with expensive equipment on the Coast is a crazy idea. But in the end, the weather window co-operated and everything came together and aligned.”
The second part to the Gust of Wind project involves free, live concerts in downtown Tofino every Friday night until September.
“There is music again,” MacDonald said.
The Gust of Wind live concerts take place from 7 p.m.to 8 p.m. in the Al Fresco tent beside the Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre. The Gust of Wind videos will be posted over the next seven weeks on Tofino Arts Council’s YouTube and Instagram.
MacDonald hopes the Gust of Wind project will help stir a fresh perspective on the Pacific Rim.
“So often people have this image of Tofino of just being a little surf town. I feel like our art scene gets overlooked. Recently, we’ve seen perspective change and people want to learn about the history of the Nuu-chah-nulth here. They want to witness the beauty of the Coast, learn about history, and listen to talent,” he said.