Memories of Chilliwack

My thoughts were simple: I thought must be crazy driving an hour in the pouring rain for an outdoor concert to see a band that I know won’t be playing my favourite songs. Especially since if the rain got any harder the show would be washed out.

On the Friday I had driven to Spencerville to see April Wine. This was Saturday and I was on my way to the Renfrew Fair to see Chilliwack. The Renfrew Fair is much bigger than the one in Spencerville, but the crowd to see Chilliwack was much smaller. The rain may have had something to do with that.IMG_2102

There were about a hundred hardy souls at the start of the show, maybe 300 by the end. A few others were watching from the beer tent, but they seemed more interested in the beer than the music.

Only one of the greying rockers on the stage is an original member of Chilliwack, guitarist/vocalist Bill Henderson. When the voice is the same the side players don’t matter as much. And it is not as if the lineup of the band hasn’t seen change – not surprising for any band that has been on the road since 1964.

Henderson wasn’t always the lead vocalist, and the band wasn’t always Chilliwack. I bought my first record of theirs, their second album Grass and Wild Strawberries, in 1970, when Howie Vickers was the singer and the group was called The Collectors. Vickers left, the band name was changed, and Henderson took over the vocal duties. In the 1970s and 1980s, whenever I saw Chilliwack live, I hoped they would play a song from that album. I was always disappointed.

(As well as being The Collectors, some members of Chilliwack formed another well-known Canadian band, The Headpins, who in my opinion had a much heavier and less interesting sound. Henderson was also part of UHF.)

I knew there was no chance of a Headpins tune on the set list in Renfrew. That didn’t bother me at all. I played The Headpins on the radio back in the eighties, but never felt an emotional connection to their music. Chilliwack though, like April Wine, is part of me. Perhaps more so for The Collectors than Chilliwack.

Despite the driving rain the sound was excellent. You can tell that these musicians are older. Bill Henderson’s voice at times seems a little off, not surprising I guess for a 70-year-old. I suspect a few songs were dropped from the set due to weather conditions, which got worse as the show went on.

It was great though to hear the old tunes live after so long. The highlight for me was a song that I wasn’t expecting: “Seventeenth Summer,” a tune from The Collectors Grass and Wild Strawberries album. If I’d had a choice I would have preferred “Sheep on the Hillside” or “Early Morning,” but I certainly wasn’t going to complain!

For me it was pure nostalgia, a walk down memory lane. Not a bad thing to do every so often – as long as we don’t try to live there.


One comment

  1. […] long past normal retirement age. He seems ageless. I saw Chilliwack perform at the Renfrew fair eight years ago, and they were as good as they were back in the sixties.  I’m sure they haven’t […]

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