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Undercurrent shows their depths

Naden Band
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The newly formed Undercurrent is one of the many ensembles that perform in the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy. The Naden Band will march on stage at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons this Sunday, Feb. 10.

When an ensemble from the Royal Canadian Navy’s Naden Band march on stage at the Heritage Playhouse this Sunday, Feb. 10, in a concert presented by the Sunshine Coast Music Society (SCMS), the audience won’t be hearing military airs.

“We don’t perform on the parade ground that much,” said guitarist Stephen MacDonald who arranges the music for the new seven-member ensemble, Undercurrent.

The various ensembles of the larger band are in the midst of an influx of new and retiring members and are just finding their musical feet.

“I was tasked by a former chief to ‘do the music you most want to play,’” MacDonald said.

The newly formed Undercurrent is a pop influenced group that will perform some classical, jazz, improvisations and a bit of funk and soul music. They like Stevie Wonder and will also perform tunes from a jazz and funk group from England, the Brand New Heavies, who give homage to soul godfather James Brown.  

The line up includes sax, trumpet, drums, guitars and piano with MacDonald as its leader. Other members are: leading seamen Roy Styffe and David P. Gagnon on saxophones; PO2 John Ellis, trumpet; leading seaman Miguel Valdes, trumpet and percussion; PO2 Olivier Neron-Bilodeau on keyboards; PO2 Ross Macdonald, electric and upright bass; PO2 Rich Lang, drums; and PO2 Ken Gibson as master of ceremonies.

Although the seven musicians are all Navy men (it’s a requirement for any member of the Victoria-based Naden Band) they will be joined by a civilian singer, Stephanie Greaves, who also has a few Wonder tunes in her repertoire.

The audience might remember her from the Naden Band concert show in celebration of the Navy’s centennial that visited Sechelt in 2010. Greaves was one of the show-stopping singers with her tribute to the sailors through the decades.

The Naden musical tradition has generated nine other ensembles — from the Salty Soaks, a Dixieland band, to the Fanfare Trumpets — and the band itself has been part of a naval tradition on the West Coast since 1940. Formed during the Second World War, the Naden Band kept up both civilian and military morale with concerts, dances and hundreds of radio broadcasts and played for base ceremonies, monthly church parades and public parades through the streets in Victoria and Vancouver.

SCMS has not planned their annual wind or string festival this year, but they do welcome opportunities to present concerts featuring primarily Coast musical talent, as well as educational opportunities such as workshops.    

The concert is at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $20 adults and $10 students, available at Laedeli in Gibsons, and Strait Music in Sechelt.   


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