ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CHILLIWACK PROGRESS, MARCH 18, 1981
By Steve Newton
(In the first of a series of stories on local bands The Progress presents a profile on the group, Joker. Next week: The Lakers. )
Joker is a Chilliwack-based performing band composed of leader and MC Gary McNab on rhythm guitar, wife Gail McNab on lead vocals, Jeff Bowman on lead guitar, Scott Vye on bass and vocals and Gary Marsh on drums.
The band was formed about a year and a half ago. It came together, says Vye, “because Gary [McNab] and Jeff and I knew each other from teaching guitar at the same store.” Bowman and Vye met each other while attending school in Sardis and had played together in various bands around the area, honing their ‘licks’ and getting experienced in the music trade, before forming Joker.
During this time the other members of the group had been playing together in Germany in a band called Celsius. “We all had basically the same interest in music, and had been playing in the same style of bands,” says Vye, giving reasons for the formation of Joker. For the last year and a half the band has been playing local halls and the odd “gig” in Vancouver. They have also travelled to Prince Rupert, where they played for New Years’ Eve 1980.
Though the band has a relationship with the Ironhorse booking agency of Vancouver, “most of the gigs are found by [McNab] himself,” says Vye. Some of the organizations that Joker plays for include the Chilliwack Riding Club, the Young Farmer’s Association, the Kinsmen Soccer league and the Chilliwack Legion. “We can do a gig for the old-timers or a gig for the young people”, says Vye, who feels that versatility is the band’s biggest asset. Forty per cent of the stints Joker plays are receptions for local weddings, and they also do a lot of bookings for the Junior Ranks and the Sergeants’ Mess at CFB Chilliwack.
“There’s a few other bands around that we compete with”, says Vye, but he adds, “the market is good . . . there’s lots of places to play.” “We just played at Evergreen Hall for 400 people”, he stated. But because of the size of most halls, the band’s average audience is only “around 200”.
The band does not shy away from doing benefit concerts either, as they once did a gig to support the Terry Fox Marathon at the local Forces base. Vye, who is almost 22, has been playing guitar in bands for the last seven years. Bowman, whose main instrument is the trombone, has also been playing guitar from an early age. Probably the most accomplished musician in the group, Bowman is presently studying music at Capilano College and living in Vancouver.
Bowman and Vye have been teaching a lot of students throughout the community and, according to Vye, “the interest in music seems very high” in the area. As far as future plans for the group are concerned, “we basically want to stay around the area, and take things as they come” says Vye, who feels that learning new songs is always a challenge that the group enjoys. “People like to hear requested, up to date songs”, he says. Some of Joker’s most requested tunes include “Wasn’t That a Party” by the Rovers and “The Rose” which is sung by Bette Midler. The Queen song “Another One Bites the Dust” is a tune much requested by the younger crowd, says Vye.