January 12, 2018: I watched the overcast Victoria sky slowly change into a welcome azure. Eventually the entire sky cleared, doing its best to imitate the deep steel blue I remembered from winter days on the prairies.
“Appropriate”, I thought, because that night Deep Cove was putting on a Club featuring three musicians who live under those cobalt skies, near Banff National Park. I’d been told that The Wardens perform songs about their experiences as employees of Parks Canada, but I hadn’t had the chance to hear them yet. I figured the intimate setting of Deep Cove Folk would be the ideal place for them to ply their musical wares. I was looking forward to it.
The full church was bubbling with anticipation during the opening acts. I noticed that an unaccustomed screen was set up stage left. Excited murmurs spread through the house as Tark introduced them.
Three performers, reminding me of my time at the Calgary Stampede—two cowboy hats, one bare head, lots of big belt buckles—came up on stage. They looked a bit nervous, I thought. However, before we knew what happened, we were transported to the amazing world of Canada’s national parks, not only through the stories they told and their welcoming music, but also with a montage of wonderful photos projected on the screen. We were transfixed with poignant tales, wry humour, expert musicianship, strong vocals, and an authenticity that is hard to describe—an evening of vintage Canadiana, served up with energy and panache.
Next day, the chorus of one of their songs kept running through my mind—what I’ve come to know as an “ear worm”—couldn’t keep it out of my head:
Wake up sleeping buffalo, won’t you come on home
Wake up sleeping buffalo, all alone
I was haunted by it’s near hypnotic, lullaby-like feel. The story that came with this song stayed with me too. The Wardens told of how a herd of 16 bison from Elk Island National Park had been transported to a small pasture near the Panther River Valley in Banff National Park. The hope was that they would adapt to the mountainous environment. At the time of the concert, there was hopeful anticipation about what would happen when the pasture gate was thrown open and they were released into the wild to find their way in a 1200 km2 area in this relatively untravelled section of the Park.
Time has passed since you last roamed and the night was forced upon you
Bones rotting in the grass, now buried deep below
Dawn tiptoes through the dim light, a kiss on your faint shadow
Might you shake and stir the soil and let your dust gently rise
This was my introduction to The Wardens. Since then, they’ve done a special concert with us (Nov 2, 2019).
We’re incredibly pleased that they will be gracing the Deep Cove stage once again for our January Club. They like Deep Cove so much that they’ve asked to do two sets for us—a double treat. Because of this, there will be no open stage that night. There will be a break between sets with bottled water available.
Due to fire regulations, we can only accommodate 100 guests in St. John’s. If more than that number come, we’ll have to turn folks away. We hate having to put up the “Sold Out” sign, but have an inkling that we might have to do this for this very special concert. Early arrival might be a good plan if you’re hankering to see these wonderful performers.
Hope to see you there.