Three Bills and a Brooke perform for residents at the Swallows Landing. (Images by Peter Reid).

COLUMN: Carefully conducted COVID concerts feature local talent

Allan Reid – Contributor

We’ve all felt the urge to break free of our COVID social oppression, but creative residents at the Swallows Landing condominium have found a way, taking advantage of beautiful summer weather and a spacious courtyard overlooked by amphitheatre-arranged balconies, residents indulged in two afternoons of musical entertainment featuring local musicians, many of whom have found few gigs since the pandemic began.

The first event, on Aug. 24, presented a pair of acts in two sets. The first featured Terry Boyle and Ceilidh Briscoe, two superstar fixtures of the Victoria music scene. Terry is a guitarist/singer/songwriter who has taken his act well beyond Vancouver Island, having toured both the US and Europe. Ceilidh Briscoe is a five-time North American fiddle champion and an All Ireland fiddle champion. Not surprising then, that their set rolled with curling Celtic reels and jigs starting with the traditional tune Black is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair. The set included several of Terry’s original songs including, Don’t Forget About Me, Running Away to China, Life’s Too Short, and Could it be Love? (or influenza), which struck all the appropriate funny bones among the audience. Ceilidh’s lighting fast fingers unleashed a tempest of lilting riffs throughout, but she also displayed a gentler side on her solo Slow Air.

Up next came Andy Ruszel and Mike Sadava, a pair of old-time folkies playing a selection of folk and gospel classics and a couple of Andy’s Bossa Nova originals: Little Boat and Drifting on a Breeze. Other originals included Cool Water and Wherever You Go (dedicated to Andy’s wife, Cathy, who was in the audience). In addition, the audience grooved to hippy-era classics including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken (Ada Habershon, 1907),Gram Parson’s Christine’s Tune (Devil in Disguise) and Hickory Wind, and Johnny Mercer’s Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive (Arlen and Mercer, 1944), among others, with Mike Sadava switching from guitar to mandolin for some songs and providing thrilling vocal harmonies throughout.

On Sept. 9, the residents of Swallows’ Landing returned to their balconies and courtyard to enjoy a performance by three members of The Bills with special guest Brooke Maxwell. Billed as Three Bills and a Brooke, this group performed two sets that spanned 20th century genres and decades. Songs included the old jazz standard There Is No Greater Love (1930), after which the first set percolated through tunes such as the Cuban Viente Años (1935) featuring solos on fiddle and guitar, Johnny Vincent’s rockabilly Rocking Pneumonia (1957), Cole Porter’s comical country ditty Don’t Fence Me in, Chuck Berry’s love ballad You Never Can Tell (1964), the Beatles’ Norwegian Wood (1965), and a Latin rendition of Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps (Quizas, Quizas, Quizas, 1947). The second set included Hank Williams Sr’s country song I’m so Lonely I Could Cry (1947), followed by a Ray Charles inspired rendition of Georgia on My Mind (1930). Phil Philips’ classic hit Sea of Love (1959) was well appreciated, as was the timeless Calypso favourite, Harry Belafonte’s Shake, Shake, Shake, Señora (1947). The set ended with another Chuck Berry classic, Roll over Beethoven (1956), and a long encore medley in which each instrumentalist took his moment to shine. The Beatles’ I’ve Just Seen a Face (1966) flowed seamlessly into Hank Williams Sr’s I Saw the Light (1948), a traditional spiritual tune, Study War No More, and ended with the oldest song on the playlist, from 1853, Stephen Foster’s Old Kentucky Home.

Residents purchased 50/50 tickets and collected donations to pay the musicians. But it was not the money so much that these entertainers craved, but rather the opportunity to entertain again, outdoors, on a beautiful summer day, with Victoria Harbour behind them, and a live, appreciative, carefully spaced and not to large audience arrayed before them.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police ticketed and impounded the vehicles of two drivers after they were caught speeding through a school zone. (Black Press Media file photo)
Two drivers caught doing nearly triple the speed limit in Victoria school zone

Almost $1,000 in fines, vehicle impounded for each motorist

The Skeena Queen, serving the Swartz Bay-Fulford Harbour route has been out of action since early Wednesday morning, forcing BC Ferries to cancel eight sailings connecting the Saanich Peninsula and Salt Spring Island. It is not clear when service will resume. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
BC Ferries cancels sailings between Greater Victoria and Salt Spring Island

With repairs to Skeena Queen underway, it is not clear when service will resume

Michael Arthor Leighton is wanted by the Saanich Police Department for assault. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers/Twitter)
Police seek man wanted for assault in Saanich, multiple charges in other jurisdictions

Michael Arthor Leighton is known to travel around the Island, Saanich police say

Vic High (Black Press Media file photo)
Vic High stadium plans drop promised 8-lane track to ‘barely wider than city sidewalk’

Friends of Vic High seek public inquiry into plans for Memorial Stadium Revitalization Project

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Brody Peterson said he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Brody Peterson told The Gazette he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks RCMP recommend criminal charges after weekend party

Homeowner Brody Peterson said he’ll dispute tickets for refusing police instructions, alleged COVID violations

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Most Read