American adjusts to life on Gabriola Island

Victor Anthony performs at the Gabriola Island Theatre Centre, 1475 Peterson Rd on May 2.

Victor Anthony performs at the Gabriola Island Theatre Centre

Victor Anthony performs at the Gabriola Island Theatre Centre

It wasn’t too long ago that singer/songwriter Victor Anthony was wandering around Gabriola Island when a couple of people asked him when his next live performance was going to be.

Anthony, who hasn’t performed as a solo artist for nearly two years, thought it over.

“I went home and told my wife about it,” Anthony said. “She said ‘well that’s a sign’.”

On Friday (May 2), Anthony will be performing a solo set of acoustic blues at the Gabriola Theatre Centre. “I usually do my gigs with some sort of little theme, and I hadn’t done a blues thing in a quite a good long while, so I’mma do that this time,” Anthony said.

Anthony was born and raised in Tennessee. For years he performed under the name Victor Mecyssne, but decided to take his wife’s last name [Anthony] when they married, and released three albums, Skinnybones, Hush Money and Personal Mercury, to the now defunct Sweetfish Records.

He’s currently working on his fourth, fifth and sixth albums and said he’s in no rush to complete them.

“I don’t know when they will see print,” Anthony said. “I started back in the fall doing a songwriter record and I am doing a five-song EP record of novelty songs. Just as soon as those are finished I am going to do a record of traditional stuff, mountain music kind of thing.”

In 2007, Anthony and his wife made the nearly 4,500 kilometre move from Cumberland County, Tenn., to Gabriola Island. A big reason for the move was largely due to the couple’s strong desire to experience life outside of the Volunteer State and the United States.

“My wife’s parents are from Portland, Ore., so we wanted to be within in striking distance of them. So that meant the West Coast of Canada and being a Southern boy, that kind of ruled out the rest of country because of the temperature issue,” Anthony said.

When it came time for the Anthonys to look at places in British Columbia, they searched for a place where they could have a real sense of community.

“That’s kind of why we ended up settling on an island because figured we’d get it [community] and sure enough we have,” Anthony said. “That was really important to us. The smaller the place, the better the community usually is. That’s has worked out real well for us.”

After seven years of living in British Columbia, the Anthonys have adjusted to island life just fine and while Anthony doesn’t miss the humidity that Tennessee frequently experiences or the politics, he does miss the thriving music scene for which Nashville is best known.

“I do miss the music. I was kind of right in the middle of amazing stuff all the time. Certainly in Nashville. Nashville is way hipper than the world knows it. People think Nashville and they think big cowboy hats and belt buckles, but man oh man there is an incredible scene going on there. Jazz, blues, you name it. It’s to musicians what New York is to actors,” Anthony said. “I’ve certainly got people to play with up here. I’ve met great musicians since I’ve been here, even here on the island. This island is pretty rich … but it is not quite like where I came from.”

Anthony said that the musical community on Vancouver Island is equally as supportive as the community found in Nashville.

“It is very supportive and non-competitive and actually that is kind of the way Nashville is, or at least that is the way I found it to be when I was there. I really wasn’t expecting that. I sort of thought that Nashville would be more competitive and cut-throat but it really is not. At least not in the circles I was in and that is exactly the way it is here,” Anthony said.

In a couple of months, the Anthonys are due to officially become Canadian citizens. “We get to come over to Nanaimo and take the oath and sing the national anthem,” Anthony said. “It’s a big deal to us.”

Victor Anthony performs at the Gabriola Island Theatre Centre, 1475 Peterson Rd, on Friday (May 2). Doors open at 7:30 p.m., with the show beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 250-247-7412.

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