Last Saturday night, Pender Island’s community hall was draped in cedar for a very special fundraising concert. Led by the incomparable Mae Moore, who sang a spine-tingling rendition of “Tom Thompson’s Mandolin”, an all-star ensemble of musicians poured out their passion for B.C.’s wilderness and brought the sold-out audience to laughter and to tears.   Daniel Lapp played trumpet alongside Lester Quitzau’s blues trio, then reeled off a cover of Tom Waits’ “Poetry and Roses” at the grand piano. Tucking a”No Enbridge” sign into his fedora, Lapp hopped up on stage and grabbed his fiddle. He  proceeded to  take the audience on a wild ride from backwoods Quebecois kitchen fiddle-scrape, to cutting edge jazz improv worthy of a hopped-up, rock n’ roll Shostakovich.

Between amazing musical acts, host Lynne Wells cracked jokes and took the gentle teasing of her hometown crowd in stride, while Brian Falconer of Raincoast Conservation Foundation spoke eloquently about his travels to communities along the proposed pipeline and tanker routes. Falconer honoured the depth of commitment he witnessed from First Nations, and the abundance of wildlife that would be recklessly endangered in the event of an oil spill.

Reflecting on the abundance of incredible creative people toiling away “in the sticks” on little emerald islands like Pender, Mae Moore shared an ‘aha!’ moment from the stage: “After we’re done here tonight, I’m going to call up my musical friends and get them to do concerts for Pull Together too!” With over $4000 in proceeds to Pull Together, she’s set the bar very high.  If Moore’s vision comes to light (and she is one unstoppable force of nature) Pender’s show will be a pearl on a long string of magical evenings.

What a treat to hear songs, composed by wood stoves and in jam sheds out on the ‘back 40’, in such an intimate setting.  As evidenced by the show’s rousing finale, Tom Petty’s “I won’t back down”, B.C. culture is tough, and resilient. Inspired by the magic and might of the forest and the sea, the people of this province are not going to surrender to a nightmare of tankers and pipelines. Watching Pender Island’s  artist-activists  unleashed on the stage, howling ‘hell no’ back at Enbridge, was deliciously transcendent and deeply soul-satisfying.

 As Lester Quitzau sighed, after a ripping solo on slide guitar: “It feels good to get it out of the garage.”

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