I have always been a big fan of live music.
When I was young(er), music was a major part of my life and I would pay big money and travel long distances to wherever any one of my favourite bands would be playing.
When I was living in Toronto while I was in my 20s, a friend of mine and I took a bus to Kitchener, which was about 100 kilometres away, to check out a Jethro Tull concert.
We were so excited to see the English band (I had all their records) that we didn’t even consider how we were going to get back to Toronto after the concert, or arrange for somewhere to stay in Kitchener for the night.
But we didn’t care.
We had bought two tickets just three rows back from the stage and, after lead singer Ian Anderson had finished his last song for the evening, we spent the night wandering around Kitchener talking about what a great show it was until 6 a.m. when the first bus of the day headed back to Toronto.
We were committed (or committable) fans and loved the adventure of it all.
I’ve found my zest for the constant thrill of live performances has dwindled a bit as I age, but I still love to see experienced and entertaining musicians on stage from time to time doing what they love to do while exuberant members of the audience jump up and unreservedly dance to the beat.
I think music is an integral part of what it is to be human, and the fact that archaeologists have found flutes carved from the tusks of the long-extinct woolly mammoths that are tens of thousands of years old says a lot about how far back live music goes in our species.
But all that came to a crashing halt in March, 2020, as the pandemic took a stranglehold to all aspects of everybody’s lives and all live performances were cancelled pretty much everywhere around the globe.
Now that we seem to finally be getting a handle on COVID-19 with more people getting vaccinated every day, live music is preparing to make a comeback, and one of my favourites, as well as many others in the Valley, is the upcoming 39 Days of July in Duncan, which is scheduled to begin on June 25 this year.
In May, “Longevity” John Falkner (one of the more interesting characters that you’ll ever meet in the Cowichan Valley) and Rick Martinson, from the Duncan-Cowichan Festival Society, announced to the City of Duncan’s council that the society intends to try to return to hosting live venues, health protocols willing, during the weeks-long event this year after having to resort to live-stream broadcasts from the Duncan Showroom last year.
The society did a remarkable job considering the circumstances last year but, in my humble opinion, nothing comes close to the experience of a live show.
Falkner told council that, if possible, the society is hoping to set up a stage in Charles Hoey Park as in the past during the daytime performances, fence in the area, and limit the number of people allowed to attend a show to whatever is allowed under the health protocols.
He said that in the evenings, the concerts typically attract bigger crowds that may be larger than allowed, so the society would take the performances back to the Duncan Showroom and live-stream from there like it did last year.
I’m certainly looking forward to being able to get out of the office in Duncan on lunch breaks and head over to Charles Hoey Park for awhile to take in whoever is on the stage at the time.
The 39 Days of July brings a real energy to downtown’s core and the smiles on the faces in the audience as they watch the musicians perform is a joy to behold.
So I encourage everyone to get out and “get in the groove” beginning on June 25 as the 39 Days of July begins.
It’s time we start getting back to normal.