Our trips both near and far
Over the years, MBJS has taken its music across many borders and reached many ears. From bus trips to Lethbridge and flights to Yellowknife, our group has grown closer than ever on our various musical expeditions. As Tim Cahill once said, “a journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.“
One of our very first in-province road trips as a group was to Canmore. We travelled in style in The Pilgrim. “The old rickety blue, no washroom, wobbly main door Pilgrim passenger bus was certainly a highlight”, says Barry How. This was the first of many trips where our group shared music with local communities and grew as a team. Since then, we have continued to return to Canmore to perform live music. One year, our bubble machine made it out there with us, but somehow it got lost in the thick of the evening. That’s one member we’re still missing to this day.
We have performed all across Alberta, BC, NWT and beyond, but some of the best performances are the ones closest to home. “The Cochrane events were some of my favourite gigs,” says Neil Deboni. He says, “everyone there wanted to be there to listen and dance to the music, and the energy in the room was always fantastic.”
In 2018, we travelled to Courtenay/Comox to perform at the Georgia Strait Big Band Jazz Festival (the Georgia Strait Big Band provided a dixie-land group to welcome us at the airport). This was a massive milestone for us as the first out-of-province travel experience. Some of our highlights from this trip include our evenings spent together. When we asked band member Amy Floyd about this trip, she said, “the Courtenay/Comox trip was very special for me. Spending 48 hours together with this group, with no other distractions from home, I feel like that’s where I let myself sink into it, and felt that this group wasn’t just my Monday band or a hobby group, but my friends that we happened to play music together. It was a growth moment for me personally.”
“I had some hometown friends see us perform in Courtenay. They loved our music and energy and they mention our band each time I see them. It is now part of my identity with them.”– Myrna Michieli
In 2019, we were fortunate to fly to Yellowknife to perform at the Longshadow New Music Festival, where we had the opportunity to showcase The Tangos.
“I really enjoyed our Yellowknife Long Shadows festival, from both the musical and extracurricular outdoor adventure experiences. It was neat to think that we were being broadcast on the radio live in our first of the two formal performances in the soft-seat theatre to a potential listening audience of something like 20,000 people.
– Paul Howard
We will always remember the midnight sun, the mosquitos, walking around Old Town at midnight, a fox on the road, local beer at the Brew Pub and lunch at the Wildcat Café. Of course, the flower-pot solo we witnessed will always be a fond memory.
Our group had the opportunity to support the community of Hussar, Alberta: a Lions Rotary Club Event and a Valentine’s Dance. Having the occasion to take our music to a small, rural community in Alberta felt so special. The hospitality we experienced on our trips to Hussar was terrific. We were invited to join the community for dinner before the show; small-town country buffet, complete with toothpicks on the tables. Our greenroom was the pre-school in the basement of the hall complete with tiny chairs.
We travelled to Lethbridge to partner with the Lethbridge Big Band at a fundraising event for the local Food Bank. These in-province road trips are such a significant part of MBJS because they bring our group closer together and create time dedicated to connecting as a group while sharing our music with various communities.
“The conclusion of our concert with the Lethbridge Big Band in a massed performance of ‘Hey Jude’ was the perfect union of musicians and the audience.“– Lael Johnston
Next stop, Cuba?
Although COVID has placed a temporary hold on trips as a group, we have high hopes for an international trip. Our group has our eyes set on Cuba (once it’s safe to travel); Cuba is often considered one of the richest and most influential regions of music in the world – we can’t wait!