Shari Ulrich leads trio for Gibsons gig

Shari Ulrich says she has lost count of how many times she’s performed on the Sunshine Coast over the nearly 50 years she’s lived in B.C. But to the delight of her many fans, singer-songwriter Ulrich is back again, playing at High Beam Dreams in Gibsons on Sunday, Sept. 6 in a trio featuring her daughter, multi-instrumentalist Julia Graff, and pianist Cindy Fairbank. 

“They both sing, too, so we get to have some three-part harmony,” Ulrich noted in an interview. 

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It’s not just a return to familiar territory, it’s a bit of a homecoming. The 68-year-old, California-born Ulrich, now a longtime resident of Bowen Island, lived in a North Road hippie-style group-house just outside Gibsons for a while in the early 1970s. 

“It was called the Delphi Commune,” Ulrich said. “I’m still great friends with the people who started it. I get teased by everyone that I tour with because, of course, every time we drive by the location where the commune was, I have to point it out.” 

It was soon after her time living here that Ulrich discovered music was her vocation. “I was roaming, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do and what did I have a talent for, and it happened to be [in Vancouver] that I started meeting musicians,” said Ulrich. “I sort of came to it backwards, because I came from Marin County, which is a very rich place for music. Most people would have done it the other way around.” 

Ulrich’s resume and discography provide ample evidence that no matter how she came to music, it was a brilliant move. Since 1974, she’s recorded more than a dozen albums with groups like Pied Pumkin, UHF, The Hometown Band, and BTU (with Barney Bentall and Tom Taylor), along with nine solo albums. The latest recording, 2019’s Back to Shore, will provide much of the song list for the Sept. 6 concert. “And then there’s some key older songs that people love and always want to hear,” she said. 

Back to Shore was produced by Ulrich, daughter Graff, and Graff’s partner James Perrella. “It is really interesting working with Julia and James,” said Ulrich. “I hand the reins over to them. I’m involved in [the production] but I don’t feel so totally responsible for it like I used to in recording. I can relax a little and let them guide a bit.” 

Like many musicians, Ulrich likes to mix things up and play with a variety of other performers. In addition to the occasional gig with the seven-member High Bar Gang bluegrass ensemble, she had planned to do a Maritimes spring tour with The Mavens, a new trio she’s formed with Lynn Miles and Susan Crowe. The pandemic cancelled the tour before it began, but they’ve optimistically rebooked a series of dates for spring 2021. 

“I have loved this career so much,” Ulrich said. “It has brought such variety and richness to my musical life. I just love it and still do.” 

To help maintain safe-distancing, just 40 tickets are available for the High Beam Dreams 2 p.m. show, at www.share-there.com and Eventbrite.ca.

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