The Backyard Band wasn’t able to celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2020, and again couldn’t perform for during the Vernon Winter Carnival (as they normally do for the Special Needs Gala - pictured here in 2019), but their service and history is being recongized even if they can’t play. (Backyard Band photo)

The Backyard Band wasn’t able to celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2020, and again couldn’t perform for during the Vernon Winter Carnival (as they normally do for the Special Needs Gala - pictured here in 2019), but their service and history is being recongized even if they can’t play. (Backyard Band photo)

Backyard Band’s 35-year legacy plays on in Okanagan

COVID-19 restrictions curtained official celebrations, but members share their love of music

What do a shotgun, a double lung transplant, and concert musicians have in common? They are now all part of the growing history of Vernon’s popular Backyard Band which recently celebrated 35 years of continuous music-making in Vernon.

In 1984 the band came into being as a means of bringing seniors together to make music and boasted 34 members. The fun name was chosen and it has stuck. In 1994 the Backyard Band’s number had decreased to 14 members and the band started playing for dances in the valley as well as entertaining.

The band currently has seven musicians with various histories and stories, shared here:

Don Hanson learned to play violin while at school. Later on, he traded his first violin for a shotgun and didn’t play again for 53 years.

“Getting back into music was one of the best things I have ever done,” said Hanson, who has a very quick ear for music and has played with the Old Time Fiddlers, the Happy Music Makers and has completed 17 years with Vernon’s Backyard Band.

Alma Heller’s father was a concert violinist and introduced her to classical music when she was seven years old. When she stopped playing at 15, her father took away her violin. At age 30, Heller bought a violin and decided to play different styles of music. She played with the Old Time Fiddlers for eight years and has enjoyed playing with the Backyard Band for 15 years. When asked what is her favorite kind of music she replied “playing with other people.”

READ MORE: Blind man finds passion through music

Yvonne Leduc was raised in a musical family in Vancouver where she took accordion lessons at age 12 to learn to read music.

“I was introduced to the Vernon scene by old-time fiddler George Drabiuk and have played locally with a country-rock band, the Chilly Creakers, and the Smokey Mountain Band, an entertainment group which I choreographed,” said Leduc, who joined the Backyard Band in 1996 and became the coordinator of the band in 2002.

Len Leduc was born into a non-musical family in Armstrong. Always eager to learn something new, he acquired an electric bass and took lessons for three years.

“Playing music gives another dimension to my life and I always enjoy a challenge,” he said. Len joined the band in 2007 and immediately assumed responsibility for the band’s sound system. He married the accordion player in 2010.

Bob Montgomery taught himself to play the guitar when he was 17 and played rock and roll music for more than three years before switching to country music. He has played with numerous bands, including two years with the Old Time Fiddlers and nine years with the Backyard Band. “You are always learning something new with the Backyard Band which keeps it interesting,” he said.

Hailing from Terrace, another player was destined for music, and her parents made sure of it, signing her up for piano lessons at age five and ensuring practice was not missed.

“My name is Ruth Melody (who knew?) DuMont. My clever mother decreed that access to our local ski hill was dependent on the amount I practiced.”

This kept DuMont fairly motivated until she left for university to study piano performance.

“The realization that playing for fun was more interesting than aspiring to be a concert pianist altered my course. Working many interesting jobs in the Burnaby School District held my interest until retiring to my husband’s hometown of Vernon. I reunited with Yvonne at a family birthday in 2017 and, as they say, the rest is history.”

Stewy Stuart has been playing drums since he was 12. After 20 years on the road he spent 20 years running an ad agency before retiring to the Okanagan and resuming his musical career. He has played with Wilf Carter, the Rhythm Pals, Herb Ellis, Bobby Curtola among others and has survived a double lung transplant. He has been with the band for three years.

Although none of the original members of 1984 are still playing with the band, the original spirit of fun and love of music has remained. Many very talented musicians have played with the Backyard Band over the years and they have imprinted their own playing style on the band. Some have gone on to start their own bands but, best of all, the friendships established through these associations are still very much in evidence today.

The Backyard Band’s music spans the ’20s to the ’70s, country, Latin, and light rock. Since 1996 the band members have continued to donate all money received for performances to local charities of their choice. While a formal celebration planned for 2020 was halted by COVID-19, the legacy of the band plays on.

READ MORE: Music and giving go hand-in-hand


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Entertainment

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

Just Posted

Salmon Arm Council will be considering on March 10, 2021 approval of the placing of a notice warning of building bylaw infractions on a local property. (File photo)
City of Salmon Arm takes action on reported building bylaw infractions

If final approval given by council, notice will alert prospective buyers to outstanding issues

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, Tuesday, June, 12, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Okanagan-Shuswap real estate market continues hot start to 2021

Sales in February were up more than 100 per cent over last year, reports the Association of Interior Realtors

The owner of this property at 2240 Highway 97B SE would like to subdivide the property to create a residence for her son so they can keep the farm going for the next generation. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Salmon Arm farm owner requests subdivision of land for family member

Creating two lots would mean son could help keep the farm productive

The Salmon Arm Fire Department responds to a report of thick smoke coming the backyard of a residence off Fifth Avenuse SE on the morning of March 3. Fire chief Brad Shirley notes that burning yard waste on lots under .99 of an acre is not permitted. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm residents reminded not to be tempted to burn yard waste

Firefighters respond to a call in city March 3 involving wet leaves, yard waste best taken to dump

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

A protest has been planned for March 5, 2020 over Penticton council’s decision to reject an application from BC Housing to keep an emergency winter shelter open over a year longer than originally planned. (Jesse Day - Western News)
‘Bring your tent’: Protest planned in Penticton’s Gyro Park over winter shelter closure

Protesters plan to show council ‘what the result of their decision will look like’

Although B.C. has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces, some business owners are requiring all customers to wear them before entering their store. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
EDITORIAL: Heightened tension over face masks

Incidents of anger and conflicts over mandated masks happening too frequently

John Hordyk said it isn’t fair to just look at COVID-19 deaths as many survivors are experiencing long-term impacts, himself included. (Photo by Rachel Muise)
Not getting better: Revelstoke man diagnosed with post-COVID-19 syndrome

‘I hope the damage isn’t long term, but it could be permanent’

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki responded to BC Housing minster David Eby’s remarks that the city has put themselves at risk of creating a tent city Wednesday, March 3, 2020. (Western News file photo)
Penticton mayor calls out BC Housing minister for ‘irresponsible fear-mongering’

Council recently rejected BC Housing’s request to keep a winter shelter open longer than first planned

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Most Read