Grant Lawrence and friends share songs and stories

Variety-style format highlights talents

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Acclaimed author, broadcaster and raconteur-extraordinaire Grant Lawrence comes to Fulford Hall Nov. 15, bringing his hit Stories and Songs show to Salt Spring.

Community members should expect a highly entertaining evening filled with true stories about outlandish coastal characters mixed with great live music.

Lawrence last appeared on the island almost exactly nine years ago for the launch of his award-winning first book about life on Desolation Sound, Adventures in Solitude. The well-attended evening at the ArtSpring gallery included songs performed by Lawrence’s wife, three-time Juno nominee Jill Barber. He has since written two more well-received books, one detailing his love of hockey and the team of Vancouver musicians he put together, and another recounting stories from the road during his two decades as frontman of The Smugglers.

The upcoming event at Fulford Hall will see Lawrence recount (with visuals) some of the stories from all three books, as well as his podcasts. The evening will resemble that 2010 launch except in a souped-up format with more content and the addition of more great musicians. In addition to Barber, the show includes Vancouver’s Ashleigh Ball (Hey Ocean!) and Salt Spring’s young folk hero Luke Wallace.

While all of his books have been popular, people can’t seem to get enough of the world first explored in Adventures in Solitude. Lawrence has gone deeper into some of the back stories of Desolation Sound characters like the Cougar Lady, Bernard the German and the Russell Island Hermit in his subsequent podcasts.

“They all came to somewhat fascinating ends. Tracing the histories of these people has been really interesting,” Lawrence said.

Kids might show up at the event wanting to hear more about the mysterious Spaghetti Bandit, who quietly helped himself to supplies at a number of Desolation Sound cabins in the off-season. Lawrence has recently been working on more stories about a woman who farmed oysters on the sound for 40 years and hosted the nude potluck that famously figures in the first book.

“I’m fascinated by what’s really happened on our coast‚ the types of people it attracts, from the early settlers to the hippies and draft dodgers to the present day,” Lawrence said. “I’ve found that wherever I go on the coast, people relate to those stories really well.”

The evening has in fact proved a hit all around the province, with previous tour dates in the southern Gulf Islands, the northern islands, the B.C. Interior and the Lower Mainland. Lawrence said it’s all been good practice for Salt Spring’s discerning community of artists, musicians and writers. Next Friday’s show starts at 7:30 p.m, concludes at 9:30 and includes an intermission.

The evening is presented by Salt Spring Books, with partial proceeds going to the Salt Spring Gymnastics Association.

The show is also at the south Galiano Community Hall on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

For more on this story, see the Nov. 6, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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