Nanaimo-minted musician joins top jazz talent at Simon Holt

NANAIMO – Graham Shonwise plays with multi-Juno Award winner plays with top Canadian jazz musicians at Simon Holt this weekend.

An up and coming Nanaimo jazz musician meets up with Canadian talent of note to produce some smooth sounds at Simon Holt this weekend.

Graham Shonwise, saxophonist and bassist who grew up in Nanaimo and studied music at Vancouver Island University, will showcase his talent on sax alongside Juno award winning guitarist Bill Coon, bassist Ken Lister and veteran jazz drummer Geoff Bowen.

The performance, hosted by Luis Porretta of Quadwrangel Music, happens Sunday (Feb. 28) at 7:30 p.m.

“We do about nine or 10 gigs a year  and normally get in Juno award winners – top grade players,” Porretta said.

Coon is one of Canada’s top jazz guitarists. Geoff Bowen has drummed for some of the most respected names in the music business, including Herb Ellis, Pearl Bailey and even Elvis Presley, and Ken Lister, who lives in Qualicum, is one of this country’s best acoustic bass players.

“Then we’ve got guest saxophone player, Graham Shonwise, a young saxophone player who’s really cutting an edge here in Canada at the moment,” Porretta said.

Shonwise said it’s the first he’s been hired for a gig by a well known artist.

Shonwise, 30, is well-known on the local music scene, but has a day job at a cedar shake mill south of Nanaimo and is also studying to become a pilot. He got involved with jazz music at age 14 and while he’s preparing for career choices that provide steady incomes, he’s also open to other possibilities.

“There is a certain amount of nerves involved, not because I think I can’t do it, but simply because it’s just a first time thing and I’m trying not to even imagine the possibilities beyond this,” Shonwise said. “It’s more I’m just really grateful for the opportunity than anything.”

Tickets, $20, are available at Simon Holt Restaurant, Arbutus Music, Fascinating Rhythm or online at

“It’s a great event,” Porretta said. “It’s some of the best jazz you’re going to hear in Canada.”

To learn more about Shonwise, please visit