Anyone who knows Salt Spring’s Alan Moberg — with or without a guitar in his hand — knows what a gem he is in our community.
Moberg is generous with his musical talents, and kind, warm, grateful and humble as well.
Having released his first albums in the early 1970s and continuing to write songs, release records and perform, he is well-known in B.C. music circles. Moberg has won three B.C. Country Music Association Awards and was inducted into the B.C. Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. He has been seen locally at Tree House Cafe shows, Salt Spring Folk Club and the fall fair, and plays each year at Lady Minto Hospital and Heritage Place.
For fellow island musicians John Gogo and Dion Hackett, it struck them that more people should know about Moberg’s extraordinary musicianship and that a tribute concert would be an ideal way to spread the word.
Gogo said one day his neighbour Hackett initiated a conversation about Moberg with him.
“Dion was just raving about his songs and his voice, how his voice is still so good. And he said, ‘We should do a tribute to him.’ And I immediately thought, ‘Yeah, I think that’s a great idea.’”
The resulting concert takes place on Sunday, June 19 (Father’s Day) at 2 p.m. at Foxglove Farm and Garden Supply on Atkins Road.
Moberg told the Driftwood he won’t be on the stage too much himself, but will get to enjoy other musicians sharing their renditions of some of his songs.
“Valdy is going to do a very early song of mine called Heaven in my Backyard,” said Moberg. “And he was demonstrating to me on the way through town how he’s going to put a bit of a Latin feel to it.”
Viva Chorale choir will perform two songs that were arranged by choral arranger Larry Nickel: his famous Williams Lake Stampede country song and a gospel tune called This Could Be the Day.
A number of other local and off-island musicians will grace the Foxglove stage to pay tribute to Moberg.
“Everybody I’ve talked to about it is so enthusiastic. Everybody seems to know and like him,” said Gogo.
“I think the term ‘local legend’ really applies to this guy.”
Gogo said some Moberg songs have really impacted him, including “a couple of absolute gems” he discovered that were recorded in the early 1970s.
One of those is called The Ballad of Sally June, about a Heiltsuk family in Bella Bella missing their daughter, who was murdered in Vancouver. It shows Moberg’s awareness of an issue it took governments further decades to act on.
“I was really blown away,” said Gogo.
Tickets for the June 19 show are available at Salt Spring Books.
“I’m just so honoured that they’ve done this,” said Moberg about the concert.
“I like to say that I thought maybe Andy [Meyers] and a few of the guys might sing a few of my songs after I died, but this is better.”
Some people have assumed that Moberg, who turns 81 this year, must be ill for this kind of event to be organized, but that is absolutely not the case.
In addition to being excited about the concert itself, Moberg is pleased that several family members are making the trip to Salt Spring for the event. Among them is a son he didn’t know he had until a couple of years ago after his sister did some DNA testing that led to the happy discovery.
“You’re a good person to gather around,” a woman once told him when he did a concert in Pender Harbour, the Sunshine Coast community where he grew up. “So we can gather around this concert.”
Gogo and Moberg are grateful to Salt Spring Arts for their support of the event with a special grant, and to Foxglove nursery for providing the concert locale.
The concert was originally scheduled for Jan. 15 at Mahon Hall but had to be postponed. Gogo said anyone who bought tickets for that event can use them on June 19, or can get a refund from him by contacting him through his www.johngogo.com website.