Music sets the tone for welcoming pole

Community association branches out with benefit concert

The first concert to raise cash for a welcoming pole at Oak Bay High will feature veteran musician Niels Petersen with wife Connie Lebeau and Norm MacPherson on Saturday

Music will course through The Oaks in aid of Sno’uyutth.

The village eatery hosts a trio of hot names for its first benefit concert for the welcome pole the Community Association of Oak Bay hopes to raise this fall at Oak Bay High. Sno’uyutth is Songhees master carver Butch Dick’s name for the 20-foot totem he designed for the community association.

“We’re new here and we want to become a part of the community, we saw an opportunity to work with the Community Association of Oak Bay,” said Nick Hopkins, owner of The Oaks, adding the aboriginal artwork “will be a legacy for everybody.”

In their two years feeding locals and guests on The Ave, Hopkins and wife Ditza have welcomed Friday night music to the realm of The Oaks and it’s gone over well. They also brought back some folks who performed there when it was the longstanding Blethering Place, to create continuity. This will be the first benefit concert, with others in the works.

“It’s good exposure and getting your name out there,” Nick said. “It’s always exciting to get new things going on here. The room holds music really well, so it’s nice to hear good musicians play.”

Veteran musician, prolific songwriter, producer, guitarist and pianist Niels Petersen will kick off the benefit concert series alongside wife Connie Lebeau and Canadian guitar legend Norm MacPherson.

An honorary member of the Victoria Music Hall of Fame, MacPherson’s credits include album recordings with The Poppy Family, Terry Jacks and Susan Jacks, Skylark with founding member David Foster, Burton Cummings, Sample Stearns Band and Valdy, who MacPherson backed-up at over 1,500 national and international concerts.

“Wonderful guitarist played for years with Valdy and was in the original Skylark band with David Foster,” said Petersen. “We have quite an eclectic group here and we’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a very interesting evening.”

During his long career Petersen has shared the stage with music greats like Tina Turner, Joan Armatrading, Burton Cummings, Sir Cliff Richard, Trish Yearwood and Vince Gill. He has composed more than 100 original songs and written music for award-wining documentaries and short films. Recently returned to Victoria, he spent the previous couple of years playing nightly with his wife, Lebeau, on cruise ships around the world.

Lebeau studied classical piano for 13 years, picking up bass, drums and accordion along the way, before forming critically acclaimed bands with Petersen in Vancouver and Victoria. She toured coast to coast backing Canadian folk legend Valdy, and for years sang and played bass and accordion on record and on tour with family entertainment superstar Raffi. She’s played on Broadway and at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, where she worked with the late, great Phil Ramone. She has also performed as opening act for Dolly Parton and was featured in Disney videos with family entertainer Norman Foote.

All three musicians will donate their time and talent to the cause.

“As a performer I think you have a duty sometimes to pick and choose the right kind of … support for the community,” said Petersen.

The Community Association of Oak Bay undertook the project to develop a welcoming pole last spring, commissioning Dick to design the welcoming pole. From design to installation, the artwork comes with a roughly $80,000 price tag.

“We have raised over $20,000,” said Joseph Blake of the CAOB. The balance of $60,000 is needed by next fall’s anticipated pole raising. “We’ll make it with everyone’s help.”

Cheques of over $50 payable to The Rotary Club of Oak Bay Foundation will receive a tax receipt for 2015 tax purposes. Send cheques to Community Association of Oak Bay 138-2017A Cadboro Bay Rd. Victoria, B.C. V8R 5G4.

Sno’uyutth means “spreading good energy” and they’ll be rockin’ and spreading good energy at The Oaks Saturday, Jan. 31.

Tickets, which are limited to 100, are $20 in advance at The Oaks, 2250 Oak Bay Ave., and $25 at the door. For more information call 250-598-1567.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oak baynews.com