You know summer has come to Nakusp when there’s music in the park on Wednesday nights. For 15 years there has been music at the gazebo in Nakusp, filling summer evenings with fun and song. Parking around the gazebo area fills up, and more than 150 people hang out or pass through the park, enjoying the sounds of live music.
On Wednesday, July 11 the performing artist at Music in the Park was Blu Hopkins, a two-member band made up of Blu and his wife Kelly. Blu and Kelly came all the way from Salmon Arm to play organic acoustic music for the crowd in Nakusp. Blu Hopkins’ music crosses genres and cannot easily be defined but has elements of bluegrass, and folk and country as well. They sang songs about small town life, love and loss, using a number of string instruments to accompany their lyrics.
Blu Hopkins was a band that Bunty Maxfield had petitioned Hamling to bring to Nakusp for Music in the park last year. Maxfield and Hopkins were good friends and had played together. Virtually everyone in Nakusp seemed to know Maxfield, his love of music, and how great he was on a harmonica. Maxfield spent hours putting his local radio show “Got Them Blues” together, crafting a quality program that brought the blues from all over into the homes of Nakusp.
Mayor Karen Hamling books the bands for music in the park by March for each summer, and when she was booking acts for the 2012 season Hamling remembered Maxfield’s request and booked Blu Hopkins to play this summer’s event. Unfortunately Maxfield passed on June 16, 2012, too soon to enjoy the show in body, but he was there in spirit.
Blu Hopkins dedicated a song to Maxfield during the show, and ended the performance with another dedication, a beautiful tear-jerking song called “Who Will Sing For Me.” They performed the song in a similar style to how it has been performed by Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs, two artists Maxfield and Hopkins both enjoyed.
There was no denying the music was great, but maybe the most interesting thing about Blu and Kelly is that they have been together since they were 15 and 17 years old. They met on the streets of Vancouver, became friends, and life developed from there.
Many people in the crowd were amazed by how long the two musicians have been a couple and seemed to relish the couples’ stories and playful banter on stage.
Blu Hopkins had a number of string instruments they used for the show. Kelly had a very interesting looking and brand new small electric bass. She said during the show that they had picked the instrument up in Calgary the day before and that it sounded unusually loud to her, apologizing if the audience was having the same experience.
The new electric bass looked just like a two-thirds size version of a normal bass. And it was actually a small but normal bass with a structured wooden hollow body like you would expect, but it also has a high grade pick-up on it to amplify the sound to be like what one would expect to hear from a standard-sized instrument.
Kelly also had a mandolin while Blu had an acoustic guitar for most of the show. Blu had with him on stage a stick dulcimer. A dulcimer is an instrument often associated with Ozarks-inspired music. Blu’s dulcimer looks like a traditional version but with a long neck, almost like a violin but much smaller. Unfortunately Blu didn’t play his unique instrument for the crowd that night, but after the show I got to hear a few notes. It has a rustic and twangy sound just like I imagine one would hear in Appalachia: unique and wonderful.
The night’s performance was appreciated on stage as well by the audience. Blu Hopkins had a great experience in Nakusp, enjoying the quiet audience’s attentiveness and interest in the music.
Music in the Park really is a perfect way to spend a warm summer evening. On the evening I attended it was still almost 30 degrees when the sun was starting to settle down for the night, there was a clear sky and not many mosquitoes out yet. A quiet and content crowd was clearly enjoying their evening. The kids were amusing themselves, smaller children seemed to group up and dance somewhere near the stage or run off to play a game together or play in the nearby park. The occasional dog had an opinion, mostly about a strange nearby dog, but was quickly quieted down by their human companions. It was a very pleasant evening perfect for the whole family.
Music in the Park takes place every Wednesday, 6:30 pm, at the gazebo and in the arena if there’s rain. You can bring your favorite folding chair and watch from the grass or wear your shorts, bring a towel and listen from the beach.
Village staff brought down some chairs for those who didn’t bring one of their own and prefer not to relax in the well-kept grass. Kids and pets are welcome, and many were present last Wednesday evening.