August 27, 2016
I seem to recall that gumboot dancing began among the black miners in South Africa. If this is true then then the Gumboot Dancers on Salt Spring Island perform the dance in solidary with those who invented it.
The Folk Club on Salt Spring Island has always ended its season with its founders, Valdy and Bill Henderson, taking the stage along with the islands Gumboot Dancers and island performing artists.
Here is a piece I did about one season-end gala:
Gulf Islands Driftwood — Spotlight supplement
Wednesday, March 15, 2000
Folk Club gets in the Gumboot Groove
by Tanya Lester
Bill Henderson and Valdy know how to put on a show.
The fact that last Monday’s Gumboot Gala crowd was even larger that the huge crowds at previous Salt Spring Folk Club concerts proves that islanders know it too.
They came because they expected a lot — and they got it.
From the first rousing dance stomp by the Wrangellian Gumboot Dancers, it was apparent that it was a night for the performers to play together and for the audience to simply enjoy it.
The players, who mixed and matched on each other’s sets, were all finely tuned for the evening.
Valdy, dressed in red for the occasion, shared his t erratic guitar picking and his tradem folk songs that always tell a story. They are nicely balanced with meaningful lyrics and a sense of humour that reminds us the human condition can sometimes be tough, but life is worth keeping a smile on one’s face.
Through his oral storytelling and song lyrics, Valdy shared things that matter to him with the audience. Things like how his photographer father bought land on Salt Spring in 1941 and how he himself started a dance band in order to make a living on the island.
Valdy did a song dedicated to his actress-model daughter. It was about his regrets of not having enough time to “explore that sacred ground” with her when she was young. Then, his lyrics segued into how his father had not had time for him. Blended with this was his belief that he can spend time with his daughter now.
Another song was one he performed for friends when they married, about choosing to go deep with another person and partner for life. Ironically, Valdy said, they are no longer together.
Among the friends ( as in Bill Henderson and Valdy and “friends”) that moved up to the microphones were John and Michelle Law. When they do country, they make even those not partial to this musical genre like it. Music well done can always be appreciated.
Lisa and Charley Erck snuck in some nice humour along with their fine pickin’. One was about church politics and how someone tells the deacon that the church is on fire. His response is that “it will be discussed at the next meeting.”
They also joked about “Billy Bob” Henderson joining them on bongo drums.
Throughout the night, Henderson got in there wherever he could.
When it came to his set, he included some of the songs that took Chilliwack into the winning musical circle a few decades back. He got an audience, geared to folk, shouting out “rock” in the refrain echo to Golan Heights. He punctuated much of what he sang with the unfettered wails that have made him stand out in the musical world for years.
It is incredible how much sheer musical power Henderson maintains. Being in a four-man band decades ago and creating international musical impact is one thing. Years later, solo with his guitar is another thing. Yet the impact is still great.
The only complaint I have is: why weren’t the Gumboot Gala musicians and stompers given a standing ovation? Then, maybe they did not need one because they were just having so much fun.G
For more about Tanya — her writing and books; her psychic readings, her housesitting– go to her other posts at tealeaf56.wordpress.com and writingsmall.wordpress.com; her website at teareading.wordpress.com and her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Goggle.