When playing music with others is your main entertainment and diversion, and a nasty pandemic hits shutting everyone down, it is easy to sink into a blue funk. Suddenly all the nursing homes where the Valley Echoes played are closed to everyone, even families.
The Valley Echoes, a group of amateur musicians some of whom have been long-time members, disbanded because of ill health of several members, leaving those still able to play feeling bereft.
“In chatting with Iris Goebel, the flute player who led the Valley Echoes, we decided that we could continue in some small way by playing outdoors,” said Ali Doi, who plays the hammered dulcimer.
Accordionist Jan Pardiac also joined the group. The first gig was for an old friend who was a musician, but no longer able to play.
It was that friend who named the group, at that first gig.
Almost immediately another request came from a good musician who no longer can play for health reasons, and was going stir-crazy being shut in.
“His wife brought him down to the parking lot outside of his apartment, and set him up with a Dobro on his knees. He always played a heavy bass guitar, but no longer had the strength to hold it. He was delighted to be playing in a group again, and the Troubadours were thrilled to [accommodate him],” said Doi.
Others from the apartment building drifted out with their lawn chairs, to listen and sing.
“Word travelled quickly and we soon had more requests than we could keep up with. Shut-ins were desperate for some diversion,” said Doi.
The trio’s first ‘big’ gig was for a couple celebrating their 72nd wedding anniversary.
“They live in a complex of patio homes and all the neighbours came to spread out on the lawn to wish them well and help us sing The Anniversary Song to them,” said Doi. “They are both into their mid-nineties, but mentally sharp. They sat in their living room behind the screen door and we played outside on their patio.”
The next gig was at a small retirement home.
“It was a sunny day and the six residents sat bundled up in the garden ready to sing,” said Doi. “A beautiful operatic voice sailed out unexpectedly over the yard from this little lady who seemed too frail to possess such a strong spectacular voice.”
This group, like all the homes, are not having church services during the pandemic, and so they asked if the Tailgate Troubadours would return.
“That request prompted us to make up a program of old hymns and spirituals which we will be ready to share soon,” said Doi.
“It is soul-satisfying to be safely providing a bit of diversion to shut-ins who have been so isolated. It looks like we will have restrictions for some time yet, especially when the second wave of COVID hits us. It was good that we got our act together this way so we can continue to entertain. It is a win-win situation; we are getting our music fix while providing some diversion for others.”
To book the Tailgate Troubadours, call Goebel at 250-897-0281.