From high school variety shows to advocating for food banks, Mark Crissinger has found a worthy cause for his music.
Born and raised in Quebec, Crissinger, who currently lives in Cedar, first started his musical career as a high school variety show performer, and didn’t book venues as a professional musician until 1987. A self-described contemporary blues and roots musician, he started to play the Parksville Qualicum Beach area for the Parksville Beach Festival Concert Series in 2014.
During a spring tour in 1993, he fell in love with the west coast lifestyle, and soon after decided that “one day he would move out west.” In 2011, he did just that.
“It’s gorgeous, Vancouver Island. And it’s a fun stop on any tour, if your touring Canada.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Crissinger has adjusted to the “new normal” and done several online shows, as well as socially-distanced live shows during the summer.
However, he’s noticed that food banks and the like have started to suffer, and said his focus for the next few months will be to raise awareness for community charities. Crissinger suspects that many are getting “really dried out” and could use the support. He also urges people to consider financial donations over food donations.
“We can do way more with a financial donation than we can with a box of crackers,” he said. “If you donate $5, that can be turned into like $15 worth of food by the food bank because they get discounts on shopping.”
Crissinger is a member of the Nanaimo Blues Society, with their main charity being the Nanaimo Food Bank. Currently they’re brainstorming different ideas on how to raise money, but suspects they’ll lean towards an online concert.
“We’ll be doing that the first Saturday of December, our usual date. We’ll do a concert in front of a small audience but we’ll also be streaming it. Admission will be by donation.”
Crissinger finds online shows fun, especially since The Nanaimo Blues Society are like-minded musicians that are pleased to raise money “for such an important charity.”
For the past eight years he’s hosted the community food bank concert at the Wheat Sheaf Pub in Cedar.
On Saturday, Oct. 17, Crissinger will play the Music Cafe in Parksville, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $7, and will feature himself on guitar, and Marty Howe on harmonica. Howe has played with Crissinger since 2014, and played either harmonica or flute on his last three albums.
This performance will be Crissinger’s third at the cafe, as he’s said “it’s a nice laid-back place to do a concert.”
“It’s a pretty tough time to be opening up a music venue, or any type of venue at all. So my hats off to them, they’re really trying to make a go of it. All my shows have done really well there.”
For the Music Cafe show, attendees can expect Crissinger to perform orginial work from his last six albums.
Crissinger will be at The Nanaimo Bar on Oct. 23, and The Queen’s on Nov. 15, both Nanaimo shows.
He’s currently working on a “top secret” EP, that is going to be very different than his usual pieces.
The EP will be blues, and will have six songs with an accompanying video.