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Wasn't that a party?

When I told a jazz fan I wanted to see pianist Doc Fingers at the Garden Bay Pub during the Pender Harbour Jazz Festival, he gave me a tip: "Go Sunday night for the wrap up," he whispered. "That's when he jams with other musicians. It's a real party.

When I told a jazz fan I wanted to see pianist Doc Fingers at the Garden Bay Pub during the Pender Harbour Jazz Festival, he gave me a tip: "Go Sunday night for the wrap up," he whispered. "That's when he jams with other musicians. It's a real party."

Okay, so this hot tip was not a secret; in fact, the great festival wind-down event was advertised in Coast Reporter. That could account for why every seat was taken at the waterfront pub last Sunday evening well before the 9 p.m. start time.

Thanks to Craig and Darryl of Pender Harbour who offered me a seat at their table, I had the best view in the house, practically in Doc Fingers' lap. Of course, we were seated outdoors on the sundeck and the band was playing on the other side of a plate glass window, but it didn't matter. I could watch the famous fingers as he riffed expertly on the keyboards, and I was close enough to read the pages of lyrics.

The musician quickly doffed his trademark beret and got to work on a set that moved seamlessly from older blues numbers, to the Beatles' "Lady Madonna" through "High School Hop" to that boring song beloved of boring bands, "Tequila." These guys made that old chestnut seem fresh.The Doc was joined by Rene Worst on bass, Chris "The Wrist" Nordquist on drums (he's played with Doc since 1979) and a powerhouse of a sax player, Tom Keenlyside, who had been entrancing audiences that day as part of Skywalk, a jazz/fusion act. The aroma of oyster platters and roasting beef wafted around us, some of the audience danced on the deck while a rising full moon peeked from the clouds. Familiar faces drifted in to watch, other musicians, sweaty and still animated from their concerts.

For their second set, the band switched to a jazzier sound, apparently to entice Gabriel Mark Hasselbach to the stage.

He's a young, hip, jazz purist who had just played that day at Lowe's Resort and at Irvines Landing Pub. Tom Keenlyside upstaged him for a moment with a dazzling sax solo, then stood back to let Hasselbach really blow. Things started to cook with the addition of Bill Sample taking his turn on keyboard, with sax player Tom Colclough and vocalist Sue Leonard at the mike.

"Now they got a band," said Craig with satisfaction. "I just love that girl to bits," said another fan loudly.

"Sue Leonard lives here in Pender Harbour - doesn't she?" I asked Darryl, and then watched him swell with Pender pride, not for the first time that night. Heck, the Pender people deserve it. That was a real party.

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