November 3rd, 2017
by Indie Dan (Tait)
I remember that fateful date. August 20th, 2016… My band had a show at The Grateful Fed that night, and we went down to set up our painstakingly early, about 6 hours before showtime.
That was the day The Tragically Hip would play their last show ever, and it was being live broadcast across Canada through CBC.
My partner and I had to be set up and ready to go before the Hip show began, so we could watch it un-bothered and absorb every moment shared with them. It was a momentous occasion, and save for a couple Juno Award performances I had never seen The Hip perform live before.
“…He went on to perform Nautical Disaster and a moving rendition of Long Time Running with the help of Dylan Ranney. Tears were flowing at this point, and hugs were being shared.”
We set up and made our way down to Doc Willoughby’s to catch the show, and thankfully we weren’t the only ones. We were there with a number of musicians and friends from Kelowna, and we got there 10 minutes before showtime… We were darn close to the last ones in before Doc’s hit capacity at 4pm.
The next three-and-a-half hours were the most memorable hours I’ve ever had in a bar. The sound was blaring, everyone in the bar was singing along to their favourite Hip songs, and people were crying and commiserating. All of our feelings for Canada’s band were mutual, and resounding.
The environment was much the same at Fernando’s Pub this past Wednesday night, as members of the Kelowna music community came together to pay tribute to the Hip’s lead singer Gord Downie. The room hit capacity by 9:15pm, and once music started at 9:30 the lineup outside had grown substantially. Folks from all over town flocked to the event, and Kelowna’s performers did not disappoint.
Sponsored by Lighthouse Brewing and Fernando’s Pub, the event was put together upon news of Gord Downie’s passing, and all proceeds are to go to Gord’s fund for Brain Cancer Research, via the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Nearly $600 was raised on door fees alone, and Fernando’s donated an additional $1 for every Lighthouse beer sold and every classic margarita sold.
The room hit capacity by 9:15pm, and once music started at 9:30 the lineup outside had grown substantially. Folks from all over town flocked to the event, and Kelowna’s performers did not disappoint.
Tiger Moon started the night with some of the Hip’s more down-tempo selections, featuring lilting fiddle lines from Mitch Howanyk. Devon Coyote’s rock trio took the stage next, performing some of the band’s rockiest classics like 38 Years Old and Poets, and it also featured a large gathering for an extended jam of the iconic song Wheat Kings.
Garrett Scatterty, formerly of My Kind of Karma, took the stage next with another troupe of local musicians. Together they performed The Hip’s Bobcaygeon. He went on to perform Nautical Disaster and a moving rendition of Long Time Running with the help of Dylan Ranney. Tears were flowing at this point, and hugs were being shared.
Julia Watson and Nils Loewen of Fiddle Big Fiddle shed their regular instruments for an electric mandola and baritone guitar, playing renditions of In A World Posessed By The Human Mind, and a jumpy version of Yer Not The Ocean. It was a treat watching the whole room jump in time with the musicians.
The Joshua Smith Band took the stage next, performing folky versions of Ahead By A Century, and In View. Joshua’s sultry voice took the crowd by the heart, and voices sang along with each chorus.
Mitch Howanyk, Joshua Smith, D’Arcy Booth and Dylan Ranney performing In View on Wednesday at Fernando’s Pub. Photo from Karma Lacoff.
Marci’s Beach took the crowd home with a down-and-dirty version of New Orleans Is Sinking, and the crowd wanted more. Devon Coyote obliged and brought a rag-tag selection of musicians up for a spirited version of Blow At High Dough, ending the night with a de facto encore with some of Kelowna’s most-loved artists.
It was a night to be remembered at Fernando’s Pub. The consensus all night was to have this event return every year near the anniversary of Gord’s passing. A Tragically Hip playlist played late into the night as folks shared stories of past concerts, favourite Hip albums, and the final Hip tour.
The music scene in the Okanagan is alive and well and full of passion. They are well supported in thanks to you – the people going out to see our shows. These folks clearly love to get together and perform with each other… It’s something that can be hard to find in a music scene, and is indeed very special. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the life of someone truly great.
Though Gord is gone, love for Gord’s artistic and cultural contributions is flourishing. Kelowna’s musicians paid tribute to Gord’s life and legacy in a very special way on that chilly Wednesday night.
The Tragically Hip Tribute Night – Fernando’s Pub – November 1st, 2017.