Bill Henderson knows that the people who go to his shows want to hear the hits from his band Chilliwack. But he can’t help slipping in a new song or two.
Lately, those songs are about celebrating Canada and protecting the environment.
“It’s very useful, if it’s possible, to create a song that people can sing that plants a seed,” Henderson said. “I believe these things plant seeds. You don’t get trees without seeds.”
Henderson, who writes the majority of songs for Chilliwack, said as a young, 20-something he put his youthful energy into developing new ideas for songwriting. As he hit his 30s and 40s, though, it became about just writing a great song – one that stayed in people’s hearts.
In the last few years, he’s put that songwriting goal toward social change, writing songs about reclaiming power over the environment from multi-national corporations.
One of those songs was for the people of Moloka’i, one of the most preserved cultures of the Hawaiian islands. A bumper sticker there reads: Don’t change Moloka’i. Let Moloka’i change you.
Henderson applies that same reasoning to the area around the Salish Sea.
He recorded a song with producer Bob Rock last summer called Take Back This Land, which he describes as a rock anthem – with a message.
“It’s a song about looking after this country; loving this country,” Henderson said.
He has deep roots on the South Coast, having been raised in Yellow Point across from Tillicum Resort, where the owner would let the neighbourhood kids use the resort’s rowboats or teach them about nature. Henderson even toured DeCourcy Island and learned of the Brother XII legend.
“He’d tell us the story – the parts that he could tell kids,” Henderson said. “That stuff is deep in me and it came from the Yellow Point experience.”
Since then, Henderson spent decades building the brand of Chilliwack and still plays 20-25 dates across Canada every year. He has toured with the current lineup for 18 years and said now that the hard work is done, he can just go out and enjoy playing music.
So don’t be concerned that the concert will be packed with protest songs and new material – Henderson promises that Chilliwack fans’ favourites will be the majority of the set list.
“We do songs from that first album,” Henderson said. “We also like to spike it with stuff from the early ’70s.”
Chilliwack performs on the bill with Trooper, The Kings, Valdy, Darkhorse and DJ Mikey Mike during King Neptune’s Bathtub Weekend Launch Party July 22 at Maffeo Sutton Park.
Trooper is another iconic Canadian rock band known for hits such as Raise a Little Hell and We’re Here for a Good Time (Not a Long Time). The Kings are best known for their ’80s hit The Beat Goes On/Switching to Glide. Valdy, a Juno Award winner for folk singer and entertainer of the year, also performs. He is known for songs such as Rock and Roll Song and Simple Life. Rounding out the lineup are Darkhorse, a new country band featuring Paul Laine, and DJ Mikey Mike.
Gates open at 4 p.m. and the show wraps up at 11 p.m. Tickets for the event are $45; $15/children under 16; $75/VIP. Please visit www.ticketweb.ca to order tickets.