When Shanneyganock’s leader, Chris Andrews, looks out from the stage and sees rows of young people enjoying the same tunes band members grew up with, and their parents, and their grandparents, he can’t help but smile.
“They’re singing along word-for-word. It’s a great thing,” said Andrews.
Newfoundland band Shanneyganock is all about taking old tunes about the history and people of Newfoundland and keeping them going. But those songs reach beyond the rock, said Andrews. No strangers to Vancouver Island, the band is coming back to Nanoose Bay Wednesday and Thursday, March 14 and 15, to share their island music with some fellow islanders.
“Over on Vancouver Island, we find it’s the most similar place to the feel of being home,” said Andrews.
Having been invited to Nanoose Bay by local friend of the band, Vince Ditrich, Shanneyganock has found an expanding audience here as they’ve continued to visit.
“Over the years, it grew from just being Newfoundlanders and East Coasters to being a lot of people from the Island actually coming out,” he said. “The sea is the sea, whether you’re singing about the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean. A lot of our songs are about fishing and living by the water and harbours and coves and bays, and the Island has all those same things. So we have a lot in common.”
Shanneyganock got its start about 25 years ago when Andrews (singer, songwriter and guitarist) and Mark Hiscock (singer and accordion player) were double-booked at Erin’s Pub in St. John’s.
Rather than send one of the two home, the owner said they could play together, and that’s how things started. Now a four-piece band, the group includes Ian Chipman on bass and, brand new to the band, Brad Tuck on drums. Oh, Andrews also ended up buying that pub.
The name Shanneyganock comes from Irish folklore Andrews was introduced to by a group of old-timers in Newfoundland.
Being a big guy with long hair and a big beard, Andrews has been described as resembling the Shanneyganock — a sort of Irish bigfoot that causes mischief.
Not so much into stealing pies off of windowsills as the original Shanneyganock might, this band’s emphasis is on keeping Newfoundland’s musical history going.
“Our main goal with this band mostly is to take old songs that are good songs but refresh them, to move with the times,” said Andrews.
“We take a lot of older songs that are sort of dying off and re-rig ‘em and re-arrange them and re-present them, and they end up becoming popular again and get requested at shows.”
For Andrews and Hiscock, it’s an important mission to keep Newfoundland culture going.
“We’re so proud of Newfoundland culture, where we’re from and the type of people we are,” said Andrews.
In his own songwriting as well, Andrews often draws on the history of the area.
“A lot of times it’s about just the hardship we’ve had living here on this rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s not easy,” he said.
“It’s cold and damp and windy and you don’t get a lot of sun. But it makes up for it in other ways. Like our culture. That’s I think the reason why we’re known for having a good time, because we’ve got to, we have no choice,” he said with a laugh.
Shanneyganock will be performing at Smoke ’N Water Restaurant in Pacific Shores Resort (1-1600 Stroulger Rd.) March 14 and 15 with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. and the concert beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. They can be purchased at Cranky Dog Music in Parksville, at Smoke ’N Water Restaurant or on Facebook via www.facebook.com/vrdpresents.ca.