Wheat in the Barley — from left

Wheat in the Barley — from left

The show that nearly wasn’t

Local steps in the save show after violin is damaged during soundcheck.

PORT McNEILL—The folk-fusion band Wheat in the Barley spent last week on a whirlwind concert tour of North Vancouver Island’s schools. But what was supposed to be an exclamation-point finale to the tour almost never happened.

Wheat in the Barley showcased their instrumental virtuosity, stylistic eclecticism and songwriting chops Friday at Gate House Community Theatre before a small but music-savvy crowd. What the audience lacked in numbers — perhaps 40 hardy souls turned out — it made up for in appreciation for the group’s genre-bending skill on stage.

The quartet of Steve Gidora, Victor Smith, Nicole Schoffield and Mark Dowding played shows at both elementary and secondary schools on the North Island from Tuesday through Friday last week, and had just performed their sound check for Friday night’s show at Gate House Theatre when disaster struck.

Dowding admits to tripping over a cable, which set off a chain-reaction that resulted in Schoffield’s violin being knocked from a small table and knocked to the floor, where its neck was broken away from the body. That led to a series of calls in search of a replacement instrument, which drew in members of the North Island Concert Society and North Island Community Band before a loaner violin was secured from a Hyde Creek teen, who had played the instrument with NICB and the Pacific Winds youth band several years earlier.

The loaner violin, delivered about an hour before the start of the show, put Schoffield back in the mix.

“I’ve got two more violins at home, but home is in Vancouver,” said Schoffield. “There was no way to get one of them sent here in time.”

The 11th-hour substitution created a change for Scoffield, who normally plays with an amplified pickup on her own violin but who had to utilize a fixed microphone Friday.

Dowding, whose instrument selection included two saxophones, a flute and a table covered with harmonicas, pipes and whistles, noted Scoffield is also an accomplished pianist. But the group’s numbers were all worked up with Schoffield on the fiddle, and its playlist was too reliant to fulfill with the other three members.

Which is not to say the players did not cover plenty of musical ground.

With Gidora on both guitar and violin, Dowding’s multiple instruments and Smith’s wide-ranging capability (accordion, percussion, guitar, flute and whistles), Wheat in the Barley has an extensive range covering bluegrass, Celtic, blues, pop and folk, not only North American but Eastern European and South American.

Friday’s playlist at Gatehouse was a mix of original compositions from members, traditional numbers, and a hybrid of traditionals modified by the band.”We’re going to do a song Steve wrote, written in the obscure genre of the cossack-cowboy form,” Smith joked while introducing the group’s penultimate number, Can’t Draw the Curtain, from the group’s debut album from the same name.

“A Celtic, Slavic blue song,” Gidora amended.

“That’s why they have such trouble pigeonholing us,” Smith added. “There’s no such pigeonhole as cossack-cowboy.”

 

Just Posted

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Dr. Prean Armogam hands over a cheque for $10,000 to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society president Rosaline Glynn. The money will be going towards a new roof for the Port Hardy seniors centre. This is the second donation Dr. Armogam has made to the society, giving them $5,000 a little over a year ago. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Doctor donates $10k to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society for new roof

This was the second donation Armogam has given to the society

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read