Jazz Club Schedule:
Jazz Club - Thursdays 7:30 pm, Avalanche Bar & Grill, 275 8th St. Courtenay
($5 member, $7 non-member for smaller combos, and $10 member, $12 non-member for big bands).
Tribute to Len Wilkie
September 4, 7:30 pm
Avalanche Bar & Grill
275 8th St. Courtenay
Admission by donation with proceeds towards YANA (You are not alone)
| A Tribute to Len Wilkie
The Georgia Straight Jazz Society opens its season on a sad note, with a tribute concert to Len Wilkie. The Lensmen (his former band) will be hosting an evening that will feature many other musicians who wish to honour Len by adding their musical contribution to the evening. Len, well known to local jazz aficionados and a perennial favourite at Thursday Night Jazz, learned his trade with big band and small jazz groups in Europe. On coming back to Canada he was the drummer with the Commodores big band as well as backing some rock & roll groups. He toured with the "Canadair Variety Stage Band" (out of Montreal) throughout the east coast. Moving west, he was the drummer/vocalist with the "Dixie Stompers / Desperation Jazz Band" for 22 years, while playing with other country and pop groups. Len passed away this summer, and he will be missed.
The “Lensmen” for the evening will be Al West on Bass, Jake Masri on Trumpet, Mike Eddy on Piano, Greg (Doc) Sumner on Trumpet and Banjo, Bill Street on drums and Ralph Barrat on vocals. The other well known and loved groups that will be playing are: “Velvet Swing” with Brent Hart on Piano, Kate Morrison on vocals and Michael Schwartz on Sax; “Silk Pajamas” with Danny Bereza on Guitar, Ian Parsons on Flugelhorn and Ann Johnstone on vocals; “Indigo Jazz” with Dale Graham on vocals and Rick Husband on Guitar. Neil Clark on Drums and Don MacKay on Bass will be part of the rhythm section backing some of these groups. Many of the instrumentalists will not be able to contain themselves and will also be letting some fine vocals fly.
Over the years Len Wilkie has played with countless musicians in the valley and around the world. Locally he has also played drums and sung for the Georgia Straight Big Band, Cure All Dance Band, Velvet Swing, Lensmen and many others. Len was enthusiastic about what he played and this rubbed off on everybody. You knew that if Len was playing and singing the group would be swinging, and that everyone was going to have fun. He always had great stories to tell and was loved by all. As a mentor, Len made a difference in many people’s lives by his unconditional musical encouragement. He loved all kinds of music, but he loved Dixieland and Swing the most. He got his greatest pleasure swinging and singing “a la” Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin. The program for the evening will feature many of Len’s favourite songs – “Bye Bye Blackbird”, “Black and Blue”, “Slow Boat to China”, “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You”, “Satin Doll” and “Hernando’s Hideaway”. The evening will also feature some good old Dixie tunes. The Dixieland crowd is invited to dress for the occasion and bring parasols for a “Parasol Parade”.
Len brought smooth vocals and impeccable swing feel to the Lensmen. He would keep a tap in your foot and a smile on your face. He was the Len in the Lensmen. The proceeds of Thursday’s concert will go to YANA, as Len would have wanted. Admission to this special event is by donation, and generous contributions to YANA’s cause, in Len’s memory, will be gratefully accepted.
This will be a swinging evening filled with oldies but goodies, played by some young and oldies but goodies! The sadness is Len’s passing; the fun will be celebrating his joy of music and life this Thursday evening at 7:30 in the Avalanche Bar on Eighth Street.
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