Bill Lockie, Sandy Cameron, Don Clark on trumpet and Bob Rogers on trombone, with Bob Grant in the back. (Clive Bryson photo)

Salmon Arm home to thriving jazz music scene

Shuswap Passion/Jim Cooperman

While the typical jazz music venue in most cities is either a hotel lounge or nightclub, in Salmon Arm jazz lovers flock to the Nexus at the First United Church that has become a well-appreciated, 325-seat music venue for the community. We can all thank the Salmon Arm Jazz Club for their dedication to hosting talented players from the community as well as from throughout Canada.

There has long been a vibrant music scene in the Shuswap, but it was not until three young local musicians, Jacob Verburg, Darrin Herting and Leon Power began holding weekly jams on Thursdays at the Salmon Arm Arts Centre Public Art Gallery in 2009 that jazz began to become part of the scene. In the first year, there were a variety of musical themes and players, always with an energetic amount of improvisation.

In 2010, when Jacob decided to take a break from organizing the shows, high school music teachers Sandy Cameron and Brian Pratt-Johnson, both well-appreciated and highly skilled players, took charge and the focus shifted to jazz. To ease the burden, the schedule was changed to twice a month and gradually more musicians came from Vernon, Kamloops and Kelowna to participate in the programs.

Related: Life and times of Turtle Valley resident and Renaissance man, Laurie Payne

As the Jazz Club formed, decisions were made to ensure that admissions would be by donation and to avoid the bureaucracy of a registered society by keeping the club administration ad hoc.

At the same time, they decided to ensure that all performers were paid fairly according to how far they travelled. Their organizational structure worked so well that within two years there was no longer enough room at the art gallery for the size of the audience, and the venue shifted to the former Shuswap Chefs restaurant for two years until it closed.

One cannot help but feel a sense of joyful pride when CBC’s Hot Air jazz program host Margaret Gallagher lists the cities where a featured band is playing on their tour and Salmon Arm is included. As Sandy Cameron explained, it was touring band members who found out about our jazz club and made the request to play here, which makes sense given that Salmon Arm is about halfway between Calgary and Vancouver.

In 2016, First United Church, which had in the past been the scene of concerts and music festivals, decided to create a unique venue for the community called “The Nexus at First” as a way to create an additional revenue stream as well as increase utilization of their facility. It was a perfect fit for the Jazz Club and as long time volunteer Stan Zobac explained, the church “bends over backwards” to provide warm and generous support.

When Sandy left the community to live in Victoria for a few years, skilled guitarist Jordan Dick took over as director and continues in this role today. Audience sizes are typically in the range of 75 to 125, but often the crowds are greater when the club is hosting a band that is on tour. Some of the favourite musicians include bassist Bernie Addington from Kelowna and from Vancouver, guitarist Bill Coon and saxophonist Cory Weeds, who also ran the famous Jazz Cellar.

There are an estimated 50 jazz players in the Shuswap according to Sandy, and many shows feature a group of them in a quartet or more. Typically, the group only needs only one rehearsal to go over the selections and the arrangements. What makes jazz so enjoyable for aficionados is the improvisation, which usually occurs during the solos for each of the players.

Related: Column: Shuswap tree-growers support provincial reforestation

One of the highlights of the season is the annual Christmas show and this year was no exception with a sold-out crowd filling the auditorium. For most of the program, one only had a sense that it was holiday music during the first few minutes of each song, as the arrangements were fluid and creative, with many of the solos and the vocals by Andrea Roberts and her son Jonas provoking a sense of joy that fit the season.

The lineup for January is impressive. On Jan. 10, the show featured a sextet led by Revelstoke trombonist Bob Rogers and, on Jan. 24, the program will feature “Soul Station – The Music of Hank Mobley” with an Okanagan quartet that includes Bernie Addington (learn more at jazzsalmonarm.com). Be there or be square!


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Woman brings mortar round to Shuswap RCMP detachment

Chase officers contact the Canadian Forces to dispose of the suspected explosive device

Dancing with Shuswap Stars attracts Rust Valley Restorers

TV show stars join quest to hone some fancy footwork

Sicamous officials optimistic in the face of Waterway Houseboats closure

Mayor and chamber of commerce concerned for staff who lost jobs

Open house to reveal proposed changes to Balmoral intersection on Trans-Canada Highway

The South Shuswap Chamber of Commerce has already provided input to the ministry

Salmon Arm residents learn how to protect properties from wildfire

Removing debris from forest floor can help stop fires from spreading

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Man arrested during Kelowna police stand off

Water is flooding Highway 33 in Kelowna Monday afternoon

Judas Priest rocks the Okanagan

Judas Priest is on a 32 date tour of North America

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Restrictive policies affecting labour mobility for care aides in B.C.

‘I had to take two competency exams and pay over $1,400,’ said an Okanagan care aide

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Most Read