A band that loves to mash up musical genres in fun and unexpected ways will kick off the 2014 Concerts in the Park series this Sunday (June 29).
Victoria’s Harris Gilmore and the Mojos is the first of nine bands performing at the Transfer Beach Amphitheatre this summer in the fundraising concert series hosted by the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA).
Harris Gilmore and the Mojos is Harris Gilmore, a singer-songwriter who plays harmonica, slide guitar and percussion; lead guitarist Al Sabourin; bass player Steve Duben and drummer Malcolm Cooley.
Known for his entertaining stage presence, Gilmore began his Vancouver Island career with the blues/rock group Harris & the Hotheads, hosting blues jams for many years. A drummer first, Gilmore played with Juno Award-winning blues guitarist Ken Hamm in Thunder Bay, Ont., while also pursuing a career as a professional stage actor.
Gilmore has been with Harris Gilmore and the Mojos for about five years.
“We just got together through the local jams,” he said, adding he has known Sabourin for about 20 years.
Harris Gilmore and the Mojos are all veterans of the Victoria music scene.
“Everybody in the band except for me plays in a few bands,” said Gilmore. “The other guys are all very much sought-after musicians in Victoria, so they’re very busy. We’ve all recorded as well. I have one CD and am recording another, and they have probably half a dozen CDs between the other three guys.”
Harris Gilmore and the Mojos play a wide variety of styles of music.
“One of the biggest compliments we get is people like the mix of muss we do,” said Gilmore. “About a third of it is original. The style, whether original songs or cover songs, is a mix of blues, reggae, ska, worldbeat and a few 60s rock chestnuts. We love to jam on stage. We don’t just play the songs; we put on a show. People say we’re very tight. We do a lot of intense jamming. We have some serious jams on stage. We have a lot of fun, and it shows, but we do some serious, intense jamming.”
All four members of Harris Gilmore and the Mojos also have acting experience.
In the 1990s, Gilmore was in a band called Harris & the Hotheads, and the band appeared as themselves and played a number of original songs in the movie Sleeping With Strangers.
Sabourin, Duben and Cooley were in a musical based on Jerry Lee Lewis last year in Victoria and played his backing band.
“None of them had ever acted before, so it was real fun to see them up there,” said Gilmore. “It’s a group of multi-talented guys.”
This is the 15th year for the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA)’s Concerts in the Park.
There are nine concerts this year, which co-ordinator Valerie Duckworth believes is a first.
“There isn’t usually one in June, but because the Sunday is towards the end of the month, we thought we’d try one,” she said.
The lineup this summer features everything from blues and folk to jazz and indie.
“We’re trying to mix it up and appeal to all ages,” said Duckworth.
This year, concert-goers will have an added option for dining at the amphitheatre because the new LYCart BBQ & Grill will be selling hot dogs and other items right by the amphitheatre.
Admission to the Concerts in the Park is by donation, and the money raised is put into LRCA programming so that the association can offer programs in the community at no cost to participants.
“We’re hoping for good weather, big crowds and donations,” said Duckworth. “The thing about Ladysmith that’s so amazing is people are so supportive. It’s a fabulous community with great community support.”
Duckworth believes Concerts in the Park has become an important part of people’s summers.
“I would certainly say that a lot of people plan their Sundays around bringing a picnic lunch or purchasing something at the snack bar and coming down,” she said. “I definitely think it’s becoming part of people’s summer and certainly part of their Sunday.”
Duckworth says they are always looking for volunteers to help with Concerts in the Park, and she is looking for someone to take over her volunteer job as co-ordinator. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can contact the LRCA at 250-245-3079 or Duckworth at email@example.com.
All concerts take place Sundays at the Transfer Beach Amphitheatre from 6-8 p.m., weather permitting.
For more information, visit www.concertsinthepark.ca or www.transferbeach.ca.