The Vernon Seniors Backyard Band is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and current members continue to donate time, travel and talent for the benefit of local charities.
Some of the band’s donations include the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Endowment Fund towards the CT scanner, Noric House, the North Thompson Relief Fund, Hospice House and the Upper Room Mission.
The band was the brainchild of Roy and Eleanore Hedden who played trombone and saxophone respectively, and wanted to share the fun of music with like-minded seniors.
Born in the Schubert Centre, it attracted up to 34 musicians playing everything from violins, guitars, harmonicas, kazoos, mandolins, banjo, and a variety of rhythm instruments. This enthusiastic group immediately did some fundraising and donated $1,000 to Schubert Centre towards the purchase of a piano. Weekly practices were held at Schubert and the fun group was soon very much in demand.
For many years the band participated in Winter Carnival Parades, Jopo Houses and as the opening and sing-a-long band for the Rotary Choral Festivals. Other performances included the Legion’s Pig and Whistles, the Hospital Garden Fair, Dorothy Alexander Centre Christmas parties, Creative Chaos, the PNE and the IPE, conventions, festivals and private parties as well as entertaining monthly at six care homes.
When the Heddens retired from the band in 1994, Warren Larsen became conductor and it was he who suggested the band play for dances on a regular basis. The band then numbered 14.
The Backyard Band has retained its original name (despite intermittent suggestions throughout the years to change it), their repertoire has expanded and their numbers have decreased. The seven-piece band plays music from the ‘20s to the ‘70s, country, swing and old-time music and members are still recognizable by their bright red shirts.
“Many good musicians have played with the Backyard Band during its 30 years,” said Yvonne Leduc, band leader since 2002. “And although there are no original members of the once 20-piece band, every one of them has enriched the band with their own style of music and has contributed to the welfare of our community in a tangible way.
“The only regret I have is that we never did make recordings of the band through the years when we received so many requests for them.”
Currently the band plays for dances in Vernon, Enderby and Armstrong, the Feather Fanciers Show and several care facilities.
The band considers themselves a family‚ and still plays for the fun and love of music while continuing to contribute to local charities as funds are accumulated. The band can be heard Wednesdays at the Halina Centre from 9:30 to 11 a.m.