I became hooked on historically-based songs when in grade 4, student teacher Ms. Dolan played Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy.” As a teenager I picked up an old guitar my dad had lying around and started to learn chords and sing the songs of the singer-songwriters I loved. I wrote my first song when I was 19 just when I began playing at a small folk club in North Vancouver.
Realizing I needed more musical education, from 1983 to 1985 I enrolled in a commercial music program at Capilano University. Voice lessons, theory, ensemble playing, music business courses and also the meeting up with lots of other young musicians gave me the courage to take my songs and present them “out there.”
In 1985 with a small group of fellow musicians I formed a band and presented my first (of many) concerts at the venerable Vancouver East Cultural Centre. Granted, this first event was heavily stacked with friends and family, but the sell-out show gave me a major kick to know that there was something there worth pursuing.
Over the next 15 years I would travel to many corners of British Columbia presenting community concerts and also working on and developing several programs for schools which featured BC or Canadian history as a theme. I played hundreds of shows from Nazko to Kyuquot, Fort St. John to Princeton, Prince George to Vancouver.
I didn’t just stay in BC. Besides touring a school show in Saskatchewan and doing a folk club/house concert tour as far east as Ottawa, I also was invited to perform my songs for three weeks in Bogotá, Colombia to accompany a festival of West Coast Canadian cuisine.
By the late 90s, the tank was getting low and it’s here I pulled the “music” car to the side of the road. Other interests came along in the form of graphic design and arts management. Learning design from my artist father and using what I learned with performing artists and arts organizations I pulled away from touring and writing. The work I’d done and my interest in the business side of the arts brought me to run two arts service organizations (BC Touring Council and Creative City Network of Canada) and more recently to coordinate two arts grant programs funded by the BC Arts Council.
But now I’m getting back to my first love, music and songs.
Having a 15-year break has given me a new perspective on my older songs and has introduced a fresh ear and eye to writing and performing again. I like to think I bring some of that spirit that started it all and some new-found wisdom into my music today.
In May, 2016 I released an album of ten songs about or inspired by Hornby Island. It was recorded on the island at Marc Atkinson’s The Barn Studio and features Marc’s musical talents as well as backing vocals by Hornby’s Kim June Johnson. Another album of more general themes is in the works.