Willows Beach Park will soon have the strains of music swirling through the air again, as the Damian Graham Trio belts out original jazz and crowd-favourite covers in the sea air Wednesday, Aug. 20 as part of a free concert series sponsored by the municipality.
Damian Graham, a former Oak Bay resident and world-travelled musician, says he’s looking forward to playing at the ocean side spot.
“It’s summertime, and it’s nice to be out where the air is fresh,” he says.
“It’s a gorgeous beach there,” adds Joey Smith, Graham’s long-time bassist friend and one-third of the trio.
The three certainly have a history together. Graham has known pianist Chad Geekie since they both played soccer as kids, and Smith actually played music with Graham’s dad for a number of years. Amidst dozens of other gigs with other bands and musicians – Graham played 35 shows in July alone – he says it’s a treat to play with the trio as they only play a couple of shows a year together.
“I play with a lot of great musicians, and Chad and Joey are great friends, so that’s always a treat.” The trio has been playing together for about 15 years, and Graham says not only are Smith and Geekie talented musicians, but they have a musical advantage in knowing each other for so long.
“Working with people you know well, you can immediately get to a higher level of playing,” says Graham. “You don’t have to work out the basics because you already know how they play.”
Concert goers can expect a whole range of musical stylings, from original songs written by Graham, Radiohead and Beatles covers and classic jazz standards.
“Anything in the last 130 years is fair game, really,” says Graham with a laugh.
The trio works from a set list, but always keeps some room for improvisation.
“It’s like writing,” says Graham of the freedom of improvising on stage. “You can write whatever you want but you can’t make up words, and you still have to use periods and commas.”
“It’s structure with open sections,” agrees Smith.
The concert will be the second in the series put on in Willows Beach Park, and provides an opportunity for the community to enjoy a free show and the (hopefully) great summer weather.
“It’s a chance for people to have fun in their own community without having to travel,” says Smith.
Graham says he’s excited for the chance to do what he loves in such great company. “Making good music with good friends is pretty special,” he says. “We love playing music, so every gig is phenomenally great.”