The Keremeos Grist Mill and Gardens welcomed back the first live concert in the Similkameen Valley, on Thursday (July 15).
It was a crowd of smiling faces, a newly unusual sight, and a wide range of ages gathered together to listen to the sounds of one of Canada’s oldest active musicians.
Valdy’s show was breath of fresh air after a suffocating pandemic.
Well over 100 people attended, spread over the grass with blankets and foldable chairs for the first show back in the Similkameen Valley in what felt like ages.
A mix of quick quips, anecdotes and off-cuts of his songs had the audience laughing in-between the music, starting off with a Teddy Bear Picnic, in honour of the Grist Mill’s own just the Saturday before.
The picnic was a big hit too, drawing close to 300 families to the gardens for the day.
At 75, Valdy’s voice was clear as crystal and his guitar work flowing, even without his usual touring guitar, still stuck across the country from what had been intended to be his next show, 18 months ago.
He shared memories from all the way back to performing in Aldergrove in 1969, as one of dozens of small stories that painted his past in the minds of the audience.
Even after the show started, people continued to slowly trickle in, drawn perhaps by the music, or in curiosity at the cars lined all the way back onto the street.
The concert was the latest and biggest gathering out in the public, as the community comes out of the pandemic daze.
Monday, July 26, is the second council session back open to public attendance, with mask-wearing recommended and social distancing required.
The Keremeos Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is now back and open too, running Monday through Saturday from 2 p.m. until 6. The legion’s events will be brought back too, including the always popular meat draws on Saturdays.
Altogether, with people vaccinating, and no new COVID-19 case in over five weeks, the Similkameen is coming out of it.
Soon enough, people will be able to look back on it, and maybe listen to Valdy’s “Six Feet Apart” if they really need something to jog their memory.
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