Drummer brings First Nations beat to lunch break

A stop at Way Surfshop Café yielded a lunchtime cultural treasure -Jeff Charleson of the Hesquiaht First Nation, on his lunch hour from working at the welcome centre on the rest stop side at the Junction, singing a Hesquiaht Party Song composed by his greatgrandfather, Pat Charleson Sr.

“I didn’t really do this too much when I lived in Victoria, but around here it just feels more natural -I’m so close to my traditional territory, and it’s the kind of thing tourists like to see,” Charleson said.

He performed on a hand drum made of deer hide, sinew and antler by his father, Edward Johnson Jr. On its leather surface, etched in red and black inks, a wild man design. “It’s not very typical of drums,” Charleson said.

Performing with elders Charlie Lucas and Victor Mickey, Charleson said the music feels good.

“I’m most proud to be First Nations, I’m proud to sing our songs, to say I know something. I can’t make art with my hands yet, but I am always happy to sing songs,” he said.

When he plays his guitar, on the other hand, Charleson’s music takes on a different tone altogether.

“On the guitar I like to play Johnny Cash,” he said.