Chemainus to catch the Bluegrass Fever

Bluegrass Fever infects the Chemainus Legion with the Backporch Banjo band this Saturday, unloading 120-odd traditional and original tunes.

Bluegrass Fever infects the Chemainus Legion with the Backporch Banjo band this Saturday, unloading 120-odd traditional and original tunes.

But organizer and guitarist Bob Johns of Fever explained the Legion date is a taste of next summer’s bigger bluegrass festival in Mural Town.

“All the bands have been hired,” he said. “We’ll hopefully put it over two days.”

Meanwhile, Johns was jacked about the Nov. 26 gig with Backporch, two of the Island’s bluegrass pillars supporting the legendary Coombs Bluegrass Festival.

“There’s also a new festival in Qualicum Bay,” the former Back 40 Boys player said, noting Backporch’s 30-year picker Linda Thorburn organizes the Coombs and Qualicum festivals.

“Most bluegrass players on the Island know each other,” he said.

“The main attraction is that people like the sound of bluegrass.

“When pros are playing, it sounds fantastic and amateurs can play along — there’s an awful lot of jamming.

“Once you learn a few chords on guitar or bass, you can get in and start playing.”

Saturday’s picking will hear Backporch first, then Fever, then they’ll repeat that order, ending around 11 p.m.

Backporch Banjo boasts banjoist Thorburn, Bob Slater on lead vocals and guitar, Kaz Sokil on mandolin and clawhammer banjo, and Earl Purvis on upright bass.

Fever features capital banjo wizard Barrie Hemmings.

“It’s worth a visit just to enjoy Hemmings’ mastery of the three-finger bluegrass style, and the traditional mountain clawhammer banjo,” noted Johns.

Fiddle and mandolin work by Ladysmith’s Kim Turner, and upright-bass duty by Port Alberni’s Guy Langlois rounds out their roster.

“We play a varied show of old traditional mountain numbers, and our own stuff —  and newer stuff by rock bands given bluegrass treatment,” he said citing Grateful Dead’s Hot Corn, Cold Corn, and The Byrds’ Mr. Spaceman.

Johns compared a bluegrass band to a team.

“Our personalities go well together and we like the same things musically.”

Bluegrass Fever and Backporch Banjo plays Nov. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10. Call 250-246-1389 for more information.