Frequent buskers Johnny Bomblast, left, and Dave Harris perform in front of Munro’s Books on Government Street. The roommates recently completed a new album of original material entitled Clouds. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Frequent buskers Johnny Bomblast, left, and Dave Harris perform in front of Munro’s Books on Government Street. The roommates recently completed a new album of original material entitled Clouds. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

VIDEO: Not even a pandemic can keep a good B.C. street musician down

Buskers ‘One Man Band’ Dave Harris and Johnny Bomblast team up to record pandemic-inspired album

It’s a relatively quiet mid-afternoon along Victoria’s downtown Government Street, as buskers Dave Harris, known affectionately as the One Man Band; and Peter Janz, aka Johnny Bomblast, perform in front of Munro’s Books.

Roommates as well as musical partners, the pair have, like all entertainers, endured a tough musical year turned upside down by COVID-19 restrictions.

But they are back on the street making some money, brightening locals’ days and walking on air with the release of Clouds, an album of songs written, performed and arranged by Janz and Harris.

“People are starved for entertainment. There’s not a lot of options right now if you want live music, and we’re one of the options,” Harris said.

The album features songs about Victoria and life in the pandemic, from Love in the Time of Corona, Sick Feeling and Pink Blossoms, to nods to Janz’ roots such as Prairie Soil.

Janz, who had a handful of songs on the go and co-wrote other new ones with Harris, said people familiar with their busking material may be “pleasantly surprised” with the end result of the album.

“I think people … if they’ve watched us busk, the album will give them a bit more of that, ‘Oh, so this is what they can do if they could do it all,’” Janz said.

ALSO READ: Demi Lovato loves Vancouver Island singer’s cover version of her song

A six-week project recorded and engineered at their home, Clouds is a product of Janz and Harris’ efforts to stay musically active at a time when busking and other performance opportunities were limited.

Last spring, when public health concerns shut down most forms of live entertainment, you didn’t see buskers in the usual spots. As the new normal set in and safety measures were installed – minus the tourists – the environment changed, Harris said.

By June the duo was playing at such unlikely places as the Johnson Street bridge, not lucrative, but at least there were people out. They reinvented their performance routine doing a socially distanced show in Macdonald Park last summer.

Janz’ day job at a downtown shelter helped maintain structure in his life, “but musicians still have to make music,” he said.

“In the early days when we were kind of locked down, we started a once-a-week Facebook live show where I’d quiz Dave on music stuff. We called them Isolation Interviews and we kept up that way and this album came out of it as well.”

The installation of patios along Government Street last year increased the traffic flow and enhanced the feel of this downtown corridor. Locals who avoid the Inner Harbour were experiencing the duo’s live performances and connecting with them.

“I actually loved the season, it was so much fun playing for local Victorians, I really liked seeing the same faces,” Janz said.

The album officially drops April 10, but can be purchased digitally on Bandcamp. The pair have set up a Google document to take pre-orders for CD or vinyl copies, but you can also stop by their regular spot most days on Government Street.

ALSO READ: Food Eco District aims to get Greater Victoria residents planting

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

don.descoteau@blackpress.ca

Live music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City staff has passed an order requiring remedial action on a building that was severely damaged by fire last fall. Trevor Crawley photo.
City council orders remedial action on vacant buildings damaged by fire

City council has issued a remedial action order relating to vacant buildings… Continue reading

At the library
At the Cranbrook Public Library

By Mike Selby The Library is now open with extended hours (with… Continue reading

Candice Marie Neale was last seen by her family on May 5, 2021 around 11p.m. Cranbrook RCMP are asking anyone who sees Neale to contact police. (Submitted file)
UPDATE: Previously missing Cranbrook woman located, found safe and sound, says RCMP

Candice Marie Neale was reporting missing on Monday, she has since been found

Sisters Becky McArthur and Robin Hansen are the owners of Twisted Peaks, which marked its first birthday, May 11, 2021.
Twisted Peaks marks first birthday

Happy first birthday to Twisted Peaks, the frozen yogurt shop that began… Continue reading

GoByBike week takes place in Cranbrook from May 31st to June 6th. There are several challenges to participate in for the chance to win prizes, and the championship title. (Townsman file)
GoByBike week in Cranbrook returns at the end of May

Ride your bike to school or work between May 31st and June 6th

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Laketown Shakedown has been rescheduled for 2022, with options for ticket holders to receive refunds or credit for future events. (File photo)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Experts now predict 33.6% rise in B.C. home sales for 2021

BCREA economists also predict home prices to increase by 14.3%

B.C. Auditor General Michael Pickup in 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. didn’t effectively manage conservation lands program: auditor general

Michael Pickup says staff had limited approaches to resolving the unauthorized use of the most at-risk conservation lands

The majority of city council votes in favour of this design for a new Salmon Arm flag on Monday, May 10, 2021. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Majority of council salutes new flag for Salmon Arm

Two councillors raise concerns about logo being too corporate for a flag

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read