Frequent buskers Johnny Bomblast, left, and Dave Harris perform in front of Munro’s Books on Government Street. The roommates recently completed a new album of original material entitled Clouds. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Frequent buskers Johnny Bomblast, left, and Dave Harris perform in front of Munro’s Books on Government Street. The roommates recently completed a new album of original material entitled Clouds. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

VIDEO: Not even a pandemic can keep a good B.C. street musician down

Buskers ‘One Man Band’ Dave Harris and Johnny Bomblast team up to record pandemic-inspired album

It’s a relatively quiet mid-afternoon along Victoria’s downtown Government Street, as buskers Dave Harris, known affectionately as the One Man Band; and Peter Janz, aka Johnny Bomblast, perform in front of Munro’s Books.

Roommates as well as musical partners, the pair have, like all entertainers, endured a tough musical year turned upside down by COVID-19 restrictions.

But they are back on the street making some money, brightening locals’ days and walking on air with the release of Clouds, an album of songs written, performed and arranged by Janz and Harris.

“People are starved for entertainment. There’s not a lot of options right now if you want live music, and we’re one of the options,” Harris said.

The album features songs about Victoria and life in the pandemic, from Love in the Time of Corona, Sick Feeling and Pink Blossoms, to nods to Janz’ roots such as Prairie Soil.

Janz, who had a handful of songs on the go and co-wrote other new ones with Harris, said people familiar with their busking material may be “pleasantly surprised” with the end result of the album.

“I think people … if they’ve watched us busk, the album will give them a bit more of that, ‘Oh, so this is what they can do if they could do it all,’” Janz said.

ALSO READ: Demi Lovato loves Vancouver Island singer’s cover version of her song

A six-week project recorded and engineered at their home, Clouds is a product of Janz and Harris’ efforts to stay musically active at a time when busking and other performance opportunities were limited.

Last spring, when public health concerns shut down most forms of live entertainment, you didn’t see buskers in the usual spots. As the new normal set in and safety measures were installed – minus the tourists – the environment changed, Harris said.

By June the duo was playing at such unlikely places as the Johnson Street bridge, not lucrative, but at least there were people out. They reinvented their performance routine doing a socially distanced show in Macdonald Park last summer.

Janz’ day job at a downtown shelter helped maintain structure in his life, “but musicians still have to make music,” he said.

“In the early days when we were kind of locked down, we started a once-a-week Facebook live show where I’d quiz Dave on music stuff. We called them Isolation Interviews and we kept up that way and this album came out of it as well.”

The installation of patios along Government Street last year increased the traffic flow and enhanced the feel of this downtown corridor. Locals who avoid the Inner Harbour were experiencing the duo’s live performances and connecting with them.

“I actually loved the season, it was so much fun playing for local Victorians, I really liked seeing the same faces,” Janz said.

The album officially drops April 10, but can be purchased digitally on Bandcamp. The pair have set up a Google document to take pre-orders for CD or vinyl copies, but you can also stop by their regular spot most days on Government Street.

ALSO READ: Food Eco District aims to get Greater Victoria residents planting

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

don.descoteau@blackpress.ca

Live music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Hotel Zed Tofino. (Westerly file photo)
Two Tofino businesses up for building awards

14th annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read