Back in the ‘Wack Vol. 5: Citizen’s Band are “too old” for stardom



By Steve Newton

(In the fifth of a series of stories on local bands, The Progress presents a profile of The Citizen’s Band. Next: The Postcards)

The Citizen’s Band is a Chilliwack group composed of Brian Loewen on guitar and vocals, Phil Derksen on bass and vocals, Gar Riggins on keyboards and Kevin Ault on drums and vocals. The band was formed last February, and came together after Ault had committed himself to providing the music at a benefit for the Chilliwack Youth Centre.

Ault and Derksen had played together at high school dances in a band called Second Wind, and were left with the decision of doing the benefit as a duo or adding Loewen to get a “rockier” sound. They chose the latter.

“The band was basically a trio at first,” says Derksen, adding that Riggins joined the band in March as “icing on the cake” after most of the group’s songs had already been rehearsed. The association with Riggins, a professional piano teacher from Mission, came about from a demo recorded at Yarrow’s Beaver Mountain Studios for California singer Steve Griffiths. Riggins was the leader of the session, Derksen one of the players, and The Citizen’s Band was formed as a result of their musical interaction.

The Citizen’s Band is not a working band, but a “hobby” band, that plays on a casual basis. Says Loewen, 22, who left the Chilliwack group The Edge in September of 1980, “We don’t have any aspirations of stardom. We’re too old”, he adds.

Loewen recalls how he and Ault put on a fake rock show in grade 7 at Central Elementary School. They used cardboard cut-outs for guitars and Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets for drums, and played along to the anthem of unbridled youth, “Born to be Wild”.

“That’s where it all started”, says Loewen.

The Citizen’s Band does not have that much material, as they play almost all original songs. One of the songs they do perform is Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn’s “Lord of the Starflies”, a soft “Christian praise song” on which Derksen plays 12-string guitar and Loewen switches to bass.

Loewen says, of playing in The Citizen’s Band, “it gives me the ability to express my views in the songs I write”. According to Derksen, “the potential of playing in a band is creating an interaction between the band and the audience.”

Derksen is quick to point out that, though the band has nothing against CBer’s, their name is not related to the truckers’ radio. It was inspired by social philosopher Rousseau, says Derksen, and concerns the aim of the band which is “to be on the same level as its audience”.

Loewen, who just finished teaching a course in popular guitar at Fraser Valley College, confides that The Citizen’s Band does not use effects, except for the echo unit they have in the PA system. He likes the infinite sustain that guitarists like Carlos Santana can achieve, and he uses the same amplifier as the fiery Latin rocker. To get a “dirty, distorted sound” all Loewen does is adjust the volume control, and his amp gives him just the right sound he requires.

Future plans for the members of The Citizen’s Band include recording sessions. This summer Ault and Derksen will inject their talents to the cutting of an album by Greendale gospel group Bond Servant. The Citizen’s Band has played at Fraser Valley College where Derksen attends classes, and, according to him, ‘ whenever there’s a need for rock and roll . . . we’ll do it.” 

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