Atkinsons’s head constantly full of musical ideas

Playing in one or even two bands is not enough for someone who lives, eats and breathes music



Playing in one or even two bands is not enough for someone who lives, eats and breathes music.

Musical ideas come to Marc Atkinson even when he’s being interviewed by the local paper about a gig next weekend in Courtenay.

“I just finished teaching a workshop all about living, eating, breathing music,” he commented in an interview from his home on Hornby Island, where he’s lived for seven years.

“Currently, I have two young kids … so that’s pretty consuming. Perhaps that’s why I’m so excited to play when I get a chance.”

He said musical ideas come to him all day long.

“In a way, it would be nice if I could turn it off, but I’m pretty much always thinking about some musical idea – even right now.”

Atkinson plays in the Bills (formerly the Bill Hilly Band) as well as his own trio and quartet. After a recent foray to California with the Bills and the trio, Atkinson hit the road this week with his quartet.

He’s the only guitarist in the quartet, which includes violin, bass and drums.

“It has a slightly fatter sound,” Atkinson said.

The Marc Atkinson Trio plays Oct. 16 at the Elks Hall in downtown Courtenay as part of the Georgia Straight Jazz Society season.

The trio consists of Atkinson on lead guitar, longtime bandmate Joey Smith on bass and relative newcomer Brett Martens on rhythm guitar, spelled on occasion by previous full-time player Chris Frye.

Atkinson said Martens, who also lives on Hornby Island, is a “fantastic guitar player. He’s been here for several years and he plays all the Django Reinhardt material and he’s quite a great lead player in his own right.”

Smith, in the trio from its inception 11 or 12 years ago, “really understands music. He’s been there for all four albums. He’s definitely the backbone.”

Atkinson said the material he’s writing at the moment lends itself to the quartet, so a fifth recording by the trio will likely have to wait until one by the foursome.

Atkinson, known for his wonderful acoustic playing that is influenced heavily by Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz and some classical flavourings, went electric for about a year in a handful of gigs with a drummer named Bill Hicks.

“My audience is generally used to a slightly quieter sound, a gentler sound, and when I plug in, I don’t go halfway … I rock it pretty hard.

“It was very fun, but I didn’t want to alienate anyone who has been a supporter in the past,” he said with a chuckle. “I realized after playing it for a bit that I actually prefer the acoustic. I’ve been playing the acoustic for so long, it’s my sound and I like it.

“My trio, with all the different groups I have going, it’s still my favourite project. It’s all about guitar.”

Atkinson, who loves living on Hornby – where he’s now got a studio – has toured with his trio in North America, England and Europe. They’ve received standing ovations from the Montreal Jazz Festival to the Vancouver International Folk Festival to DjangoFest Northwest.

What can the audience expect at the Elks on Oct. 16?

“The great thing about having the four albums is that we just grab tunes from the various albums these days … we might do one or two of the new ones I’ve written for the quartet.

“I’ll probably pop in a couple of new ones that no one’s ever heard even if they’ve heard all four albums.”

The Marc Atkinson Trio performs Oct. 16 at the Elks Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($15 for Georgia Straight Jazz Society members, $20 for non-members) are available at Bop City, Comox Videos ‘N’ More, at the Thursday Jazz Club at the Elks, and at the door in the unlikely event that any are left.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shelter Point Distillery won several Canadian Whisky Awards this year, including a gold for best single malt. Facebook photo
Vancouver Island’s Shelter Point Distillery wins gold for single malt

Business won nine medals at recent Canadian Whisky Awards virtual ceremony

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Courtenay skateboarder selected to first-ever national team

A young man from Courtenay is among 12 athletes who have been… Continue reading

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

Nootka Sound RCMP responded to a workplace fatality report south of Gold River on Monday morning. (Campbell River Mirror photo)
One dead in workplace accident at Gold River logging site

The RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the incident at Western Forest Product’s TFL 19

Most Read