Willie Thrasher and Linda Saddleback, seen here performing outside the Nanaimo Art Gallery last October, will take part in the Indoor Busking Festival at the First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Sean Fenzl/Nanaimo Art Gallery)

Indoor Busking Festival to be held this week in Nanaimo

Fundraiser concert to feature singers recruited from the Harbourfront Walkway

This weekend some musicians seen performing along the waterfront walkway will get to sing with a roof overhead.

On Saturday, June 22, singers Timothy von Boetticher, Danny Dolan, Willie Thrasher and his partner Linda Saddleback are taking part in the Indoor Busking Festival at Nanaimo’s First Unitarian Fellowship. The concert is a fundraiser for the Unitarian shelter.

Von Boetticher, event organizer, was motivated to put together the show this past spring while going for a walk in Maffeo Sutton Park.

“I bumped into Willie and I had the inspiration for this show and I said, ‘Hey Willie, do you want to do the show?’ and he’s like, ‘OK, that sounds great.’ I told him it was for charity and he’s in,” von Boetticher said. “And then I walked farther along down by where the coffee shop Javawocky is and Danny Dolan was singing down there and I asked Danny and he said, ‘OK.’ So it all came together within an hour.”

Von Boetticher said he’s been doing a lot of songwriting since late last year and he’s ready to present that material to an audience.

“I’ve written about 45 songs and I’m going to perform some of the later ones that I’ve written because I’ve gotten into a groove writing country songs and I’m really liking them,” he said.

Von Boetticher said he would like to see the event bring in $600 for the Unitarian Shelter to provide for new blankets. Earlier this month, a comedy show he organized raised $1,800 for the shelter, nearly double his initial expectations. He said he’d like to continue bringing comedy and music fundraisers to the Unitarian Hall.

Dolan said he’s been busking for close to 20 years. He lives on a boat and performs “wherever my boat takes me.” His repertoire favours the maritime songbook and traditional Scottish and Irish sailing tunes. He said busking is what he enjoys doing best.

“I’m not usually a type of person that likes to pre-arrange things. I like busking because when I feel like busking, I go busking,” he said, adding that the busking festival is one of the few scheduled events he’s done.

Thrasher, who has performed at the Juno Awards, has long been a fixture along the waterfront walkway.

He said he’s been busking down there for more than 25 years and when he’s not there people ask him when he’s coming back. He said the waterfront is a good place for musicians to meet.

“I got to know all the performers from across the Island and people who came to Nanaimo who perform from out of town,” Thrasher said. “And I got to know a lot of good musicians that travel to Europe that came down to the waterfront to share their music and share their different cultures.”

Thrasher is planning to perform across Canada in the coming months, “But our main stage all summer is down at the waterfront, sharing and laughing and enjoying being part of the musicians in Nanaimo,” he said.

WHAT’S ON … Indoor Busking Festival takes place at First Unitarian Fellowship, 595 Townsite Rd., on Saturday, June 22 at 7 p.m. Minimum $10 donation at the door.


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