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

Just Posted

Workers had a busy time today repairing a broken main water line. (District of Houston photo)
Water service being restored

Main line on 13th had broken

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week following the news that the remains of as many as 215 children were found buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The flags were raised back up yesterday. (Houston Today photo)
Flags lowered in memory

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week… Continue reading

Bruce Tang- Unsplash photo
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

“Older adults in our communities continue to find themselves in vulnerable situations… Continue reading

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read