From the Yukon, Grant Simpson is in the midst of one of the most interesting phases of his 35 year career as a musician, vaudevillian, guitarist, singer, songwriter and pianist – specializing in the style that ruled the 1920’s Jazz Age – Stride Piano. In the past year alone, Simpson has played in Nanjing, China, Iqaluit, Yellow Knife, Dawson City, Dawson Creek, Ottawa, Kemptville, Perth, Port Alberni, Prince Rupert, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Kamloops, Kelowna and dozens of other places throughout Canada. He has performed on VIA Rail across the country several times, and has taken his music to Korea, Caribbean Islands, Mexico, the U.S. and the Bahamas.
Simpson has deep roots on Vancouver Island. His great-great grandfather, Adam Grant Horne was an explorer for the Hudson’s Bay Company and made the trek from Qualicum to Port Alberni on foot in the mid-1800s. As a result of this journey Horne Lake was named after him. Another great-grandfather, Fredrick Brown was the first Post Master at the Union Bay Post Office and his grandmother Edythe Hicks was the first Post Mistress of the same place. His mother (who still lives in Nanaimo) was raised in the Post Office. One of Simpson’s songs “The Old Post Office” captures the story.
In 1980 Simpson was recruited into the cast of the world famous Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue in the Yukon and thus began the vaudevillian aspect to his career – initially as the professor of the 88s in the notorious Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Casino in Dawson City, then as the musical director of the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Show in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Simpson continues to perform in the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue during the summer months in roles ranging from Emcee, Comedic Actor, Lead Musical Saw Conductor, Lead Banjoist and janitor. He spends his winters touring his unique blend of vintage music and humor as a featured performer at festivals, concerts, pubs, cafes and theatres. .
All this leads to a full and busy musical life, and one that brings him to Courtenay for two performances at the Union Street Grill and Grotto.
Simpson will be performing with the wonderful Ontario singer-songwriter Kate Weekes. The two have toured extensively over the past seven years and offer a menu of quirky swing tunes with interesting lyrics. Weekes has been touring her new CD “Frost on Black Fur” throughout Canada.
Simpson and Weekes will be at the Union Street Grill and Grotto for two performances:
January 3 and 4, from 6– 9 p.m. (no cover – PWYC by donation)