Actor, Buddy Holly tribute artist and local boy Zachary Stevenson is back in Qualicum Beach to headline Canada Day 150. — Courtesy Zachary Stevenson

Musician returning home to headline QB Canada Day

Zachary Stevenson bringing ’50s, ’60s rock for Canada 150

Zachary Stevenson will have extra reason to belt out the tunes as the headliner of Qualicum Beach’s Canada Day festivities.

The theatre actor and Buddy Holly tribute artist said he’s honoured to be playing for a Canada Day 150 event, and to be doing it in the town where he grew up.

Stevenson said he lived in Qualicum Beach until about Grade 3, then in Parksville until going to university.

“It’s really like coming home for Canada Day,” said Stevenson, who now splits his time between Vancouver and Kansas City.

Stevenson and his band will be performing ’50s and ’60s rock tunes, including some Buddy Holly, which Stevenson is known for.

Coming from a musical family, he grew up with piano and saxophone lessons, and started singing pop/rock songs when the Beatles Anthology 1 album was released in the mid ’90s.

“That really erupted a passion (in me) for that kind of music,” he said, “So I stared pounding out Beatles songs on the piano.” But pianos aren’t quite as portable as guitars for university students, so Stevenson switched to guitar.

Going to school for theatre, he had an opportunity to audition as the titular musician in a production of the Buddy Holly Story, and Stevenson figured, “I play guitar, (and) I’m already bespectacled as-is.” So he auditioned and got the part.

Though his knowledge of Buddy Holly was rudimentary at the time, he’s since done 11 productions of the Buddy Holly Story, and has learned a lot about the musician, his music, and playing the electric guitar along the way. Though Stevenson was primarily an acoustic guitarist, he said, “in a way, Buddy Holly really taught me how to play the electric guitar.”

Stevenson says his appreciation for the rock music of the ’50s and ’60s comes from its longevity — or rather its longevity as a by-product of its quality.

“The music just stands on its own now,” he said. “Any of the hype, the promotion, the images, that’s all past. When we hear songs that are hot on the radio now, there is a lot that’s behind that — marketing and hype and what have you.”

But, when people discover the music of the ’50s and ’60s, they are listening because they just enjoy the music, he said.

Stevenson said that’s what he’ll be playing in Qualicum Beach, along with perhaps a few Canadian songs.

He’ll also be bringing some of his acting chops to bear, looking to get the audience hopping. “I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Other musical acts for Qualicum Beach’s Canada Day include Gerry Barnum to kick off the day, country/rock band 8 Second Ride, and Bruce Feltham and Friends.