Looking for something to do on a warm Saturday evening? Well, look no further than Central Park and the Summer Nights, all summer long fundraising event that began on July 7, and runs through until September 1.
The evenings are free to attend, however organizers will be passing around a hat for donations. These funds will be split equally between the various non-profit groups sponsoring the event each evening. Non-profit groups that are involved include the Lake Cowichan Food Bank, Kaatza Lakeside Players, Cowichan Family Arts Council, Cowichan Lake Chamber of Commerce, CIVC Radio, Honeymoon Bay Retreat, and the Cowichan Lake District Seniors Association. Each Saturday will feature a headlining act, but the stage will also be open from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for any aspiring musicians or other performers who would like to share their talent.
This weekend, featured performers are the Celtic Dancers, Parker Smith, and Darryl Alsbrook.
Alsbrook has been a resident of the area for the last 25 years, but he grew up in the States and even went to the same university as Bob Dylan: the University of Minnesota.
“He just left to New York when I got there,” says Alsbrook. “We had nothing in common except that we lived in the same area.”
Alsbrook said he came to the west coast in 1985 to play a gig at Brentwood Inn “and became acclimatized.”
“I play folk music from various parts of the world, but I do have a few songs of my own,” he says.
His father, Adolphus, was a jazz basist, arranger, and copyist. He used to copy sheet music for his fellow band members, because at the time there were no photocopy machines.
“He could copy stuff so beautifully,” says Alsbrook.
Besides playing live or in a band, Alsbrook also attends a drumming group at the The Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre in Duncan.
“People come from all over the community,” says Alsbrook. “We meet every Thursday and we do chanting, drumming, and playing. Sometimes there are people from Africa and other parts of the world.”
Alsbrook has a newly formed band and plans to have an album out by the fall. He says the band will be doing gigs, but they tend not to go to bars.
“They’re just not our venue,” he says. Instead, they mostly play coffee houses, schools, churches, and sometimes weddings.
One of the songs on the album, “Sacred Circle Grows” was inspired by Alsbrook’s experience in a sweat lodge in Saanich.
“It’s a melodic folk song, done with a native theme,” explains Alsbrook.
Alsbrook also teaches music, and has done so for years.
“Mostly, I like to open peoples eyes to performing and being able to perform, and the joy they feel when they do.”
This Saturday will be Alsbrook’s first time playing at Summer Nights, and he is looking forward to it.
Elvin Hedden, one of the organizers of Summer Nights, says that the evenings are going quite well so far.
“The first night was wonderful. We had between 150 and 200 people. It went along very well.”
He says he is not sure where the donation numbers are at, but he says they are coming along quite well.
“This Saturday was a little slow at 6:30 p.m., but by the time 7:30 p.m. rolled around and we had the belly dancers on stage there were more people around,” says Hedden.
There are seven more summer nights to go this season, so take advantage of some free entertainment and get down to Central Park on Saturday.