Bill Sample and Darlene Cooper say they have found the performing arts somewhat lacking in ‘City of the Arts’ since moving to Port Moody four years ago
Music can feed your soul, but can it save the City of Arts?
Bill Sample and Darlene Cooper think so.
The two longtime musicians who moved to Port Moody from Vancouver four years ago have a concert series to be held at the Inlet Theater from September to May.
And they hope the city will support the idea.
Last Tuesday, the council asked staff to work with Sample and Cooper to find ways to make the concerts happen without costing the city money while providing savings to potential promoters.
Sample and Cooper were hoping for blanket approval that would include a rental fee waiver to keep costs down and performance affordable, but they said they were encouraged enough to keep moving forward.
Sample, a session musician, composer, arranger and musical director who has worked with such great artists as Celine Dion, Ray Charles and David Foster, and Cooper, singer-songwriter as well as bandleader and music teacher, have said they had come to Port Moody to escape the Vancouver rat race.
They were drawn to the city’s small-town vibe and natural surroundings.
But, they admitted, the City of the Arts slogan also spoke to them as musicians.
The reality, however, is somewhat lacking, they said – especially since the demise of the beloved Bistro Gallery which was destroyed in a fire in 2019 and took with it a bustling little performance venue for musicians. , local and visiting poets, writers and visual artists. .
Sample said that with no place to play, residents of Port Moody are being denied the pleasure of enjoying some of the incredible talent that lives in the area or might be on tour, like Miles Foxx Hill, who played bass for Van Morrison and Michael Bublé as well as Brazilian jazz superstar Ivan Lins and now operates Frequency Forward studios in the city.
“It’s been a bit of a bee in my hood,” Cooper said of the city’s lack of a vibrant arts scene.
To soothe the sting, she and Sample floated the idea of hosting six to nine concerts in the fall, winter and early spring at the 159-seat Inlet Theater.
The raised wooden stage and professional sound system make the civic venue perfect for intimate performances by musicians like the Shari Ulrich Band, Norm Foote or Port Coquitlam jazz bassist Jodi Proznick, they told council last December. .
But to be viable, they said, they would need financial support from the city.
Such support would also give his slogan a bit more meaning, Sample added.
“The city can help fill the void by supporting Inlet Theater programming.”
Cooper said with more and more people traveling to Port Moody from major urban centers like Vancouver, there is an unrequited thirst for local live entertainment options that don’t require a SkyTrain ride or return. in the city.
And as everyone begins to ponder the tantalizing temptation to return to some sort of normal life after two years of COVID-19-related public health restrictions, now is the time to quench that thirst.
“We’ve all been under so much pressure and stress,” Cooper said. “Music feeds the soul. It would be really soothing and comforting.
Sample added that the concerts would also help the music community get back on its feet after two years of lockdown and put Port Moody on the music map.
“We need music in our lives,” he said.