Joel Plaskett and his father Bill. - Image: You Tube

Joel Plaskett and his father Bill. - Image: You Tube

FEATURE: Joel Plaskett’s Kelowna connection

Halifax rocker/singer songwriter singing about Kelowna since a Flashback’s gig; Returns with father

Celebrated Canadian musician Joel Plaskett has built a successful career on his own terms, whether as a rocker with his band The Emergency, or a singer-songwriter playing solo gigs. Never a commercial success or a staple of mainstream radio, he’s built a career on touring Canada, singing unique, original tunes. Plaskett comes to Kelowna this month touring behind Solidarity, an album he made with his father Bill. And Kelowna is a city Plaskett knows well.

Joel Plaskett has been singing about Kelowna for a long time; ever since his early indie-rock band Thrush Hermit rolled into Flashbacks on a dead Wednesday night in 1994.

Plaskett, a Nova Scotia native and now a multi-award winning Canadian musician (2010’s Three won a JUNO for adult alternative album; 2015’s Park Avenue Sobriety Test was nominated for the same award), was in the early days of his musical journey.

When Thrush Hermit and its alternative rock show rolled into Kelowna on a string of endless dates on that Wednesday night, it didn’t go well. The tale has been told (tongue-in-cheek) by Plaskett in the two decades since and was immortalized on his song I Love This Town.

“It was just one of those nights,” remembered Plaskett last week in an interview with the Kelowna Capital News. “It was just the wrong venue. It was a particularly dark moment in the history of my travels and I made light of it and ran with it.”

The Kelowna gig would find it’s way into I Love This Town, a song Plaskett was writing about his recollections of Halifax.

I played a show in Kelowna last year

They said, ‘Pick it up Joel, we’re dyin’ in here.’

Picture one hand clapping, now picture half that sound

There’s a reason that I hate that town

Plaskett’s ties to Kelowna and to the West Coast go deeper than just one tough gig and the story/song that has grown from it.

His wife was born in Kelowna and grew up in Victoria and he still has extended family in the Okanagan. He laughs about the song and his connection to the area. It’s an extension of his personality, a personality that shines through in his music.

“I’m always of the mind that if everything is happy and polite it’s almost unbelievable so I use sarcasm,” he said. “Kelowna just ended up being the brunt of a joke after this experience…it became one of my catalogue of jokes. I’ve always had a connection to that part of the world. I’ve always loved going out west and found a connection out there.”

A lot of that connection came from transplanted Easterners at gigs across the prairies and into BC. But his connection to his crowds didn’t stop at provincial borders and over the years Plaskett’s crowds have grown and he has continued to connect with audiences with his live show.

Plaskett also played more successful shows in Kelowna. In 2004, he returned to play what was then Skyreach Place as an opener for the Tragically Hip. He has played Big White and in 2009 played a sold out show at the Habitat, where people were turned away at the door and when he sang I Love this Town.

“Joel handled himself in stellar fashion when playing his infamous song Love This Town,” stated the Kelowna Live Music Blog after the two-hour-plus long show. “Once and for all nobody should actually believe that Joel hates Kelowna.”

Later this month, Plaskett will again be in Kelowna, playing the quaint Mary Irwin Theatre on a tour behind the album Solidarity, which he made with his father Bill.

Born in London, England, Bill Plaskett immigrated to Canada in the 1960s. In Nova Scotia, he became immersed in the folk music scene, where Joel, born in 1975, would first pick up a guitar and first appear on stage.

The father and son have played together before. In fact Bill went out on tour with Joel in 2009 and played at the The Habitat gig.

“I’ve joined him on the road before, and it’s enjoyable traveling across the country and spending time together,” said Bill on joelplaskett.com. “On stage, I just play and pick up on the energy in the room that Joel is able to bring out of the audience with his charisma and stage presence. The upcoming tour to support this new record is exciting as it will be more ambitious and collaborative than anything we’ve done in the past.”

Featuring great guitar, violins and haunting vocals, Solidarity has a traditional feel and touches on themes from the influences of both father and son. True to form, the songs also hit on themes of today with politically-tinged lyrics. Playing with his dad has a feel like nothing Plaskett has found in his years on the road.

“It’s a real pleasure for me to play with my dad,” said Joel. “He has a guitar style that has influenced me. When we play together there is a weave that I don’t get when I play with anyone else. My dad taught me the basics of guitar, he gave me my first public appearance accompanying him when I was 14. My parents, aside from the musical impacts…where I’ve been really lucky is they both supported the fact I wanted to play music and wanted to play it professionally.”

This tour the Plaskett’s will be accompanied by the Mayhemingways, described as a fuzz-folk duo with Cajun, bluegrass, and Celtic influences, from Peterborough, Ontario.

“This tour with my dad is a pretty intimate or causal relaxed show,” said Plaskett. “It’s a family show and it’s fun. It’s not all quiet. The Mayhemingways open the show and also play with us as a rhythm section. It’s a good, tidy little band. It’s not a hard swinging rock and roll show but still it gets up there by the end.”

Joel and Bill Plaskett, with the Mayhemingways, play the Mary Irwin Theatre March 29, 2017. Ticket information is here.

Just Posted

Meghan Thompson and her daughter Kennedy Lanteigne were awarded bravery awards on Saturday for helping to save the life of a baby drowning off a Naramata beach last June. (Submitted)
Penticton mom and daughter receive bravery awards for saving baby from drowning

Off duty Penticton fire captain also awarded for saving the boy’s life last summer in Naramata

princess margaret
Penticton high school has COVID-19 exposure days

Princess Margaret Secondary had potential days of exposure May 10-12

Brandon Messier of Messier’s Concrete and Landscaping has added some unique, glowing features to his front yard at 28 Huth Ave. (Submitted)
PHOTOS: Glowing boulders popping up in Penticton yards

Local landscaper Brandon Messier also brought the Lost statue to its new home

There is nothing left of a structure that burned down in rural Summerland Saturday night. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Nothing left at fire scene in Summerland

Summerland firefighters arrived when the structure was fully engulfed in flames

Penticton city parks staff were busy this week using the beach grater to sift through sand, getting the shores ready for beach season. When it comes to beach clean up they are collecting run-off debris, pulling weeds and picking up litter. (Penticton photo)
Hottest day of the year, so far, in the South Okanagan

Penticton city park staff cleaned up the beaches getting ready for the season

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10 million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

A kite surfer gets some help out of the water from his wife and dog after the wind left his sails on Swan Lake Monday morning. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Downed parachuter on Swan Lake just a novice kite surfer

Emergency calls were downgraded after reports of a downed parachute changed

The first of the extended closures is wrapping up, with the Trans-Canada highway re-opening on weekends for travel. (Jack Stuemple photo)
Trans-Canada highway to open on weekends

The highway will be open startig on Friday for the long weekend.

Rescue crews search for a missing diver in Okanagan Lake at Hot Sands Beach by the William R. Bennett Bridge on Sunday, May 16. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Missing Okanagan Lake diver presumed drowned, recovery efforts continue

Boaters are asked to stay away from the area as crews continue the search

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10 million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Kayak the humpback whale was found dead on a Haida Gwaii beach on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Marine Education and Research Society)
Kayak the humpback whale found dead on Haida Gwaii beach

Whale was estimated to be only 18 years old

Most Read