Bring back that old Harpo’s magic

Grapes of Wrath concert to benefit Autism society at former Harpo's Cabaret Sun., April 15.

Eight-year-old Nathaniel Pollard at Rifflandia 4.

 

Eight-year-old Nathaniel Pollard is the strong silent type. He was diagnosed with autism on his second birthday and although he hasn’t developed the ability to speak, it’s more than evident that he has an awareness of the people around him and what they are saying.

You can see it in his captivating blue eyes as he communicates with his father, concert promoter Marcus Pollard, mostly through body language and simple hand gestures over sweet potato chips and a beverage at a local Starbucks on their way home from school.

Nathaniel is a Grade 3 student at Frank Hobbs Elementary. He loves music, especially live, which proves the old adage the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

His father Marcus booked some of the top musical acts of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s at some of Victoria’s top venues; Sarah McLachlan, Pearl Jam, John Lee Hooker, Green Day, The Neville Brothers, No Doubt, Alice in Chains, Crash Test Dummies, Buddy Guy and the Grapes of Wrath are among the bands who graced the stage at Harpo’s (now Upstairs Cabaret) and other bars he worked at around town.

“I was pretty relentless asking people to play,” says Pollard. “My phone bills were huge because that was before the days of email and Internet. The special thing about Harpo’s was that you could see a bar band one day and a top-ranked punk rock or top-ranked blues musician, or multi-instrumentalist. It went from noise hardcore to folk and everywhere in between.”

Now Pollard is bringing back some of that old magic with a concert series featuring bands from that era on the old Harpo’s stage, with proceeds going to non-profits around town.

First up is The Grapes of Wrath benefit concert, Sun., April 15 for the Victoria Society for Children with Autism, a cause close to Pollard’s heart.

“The VSCA supplies info and respite funds for people with autistic children and that’s really important because it can be pretty intense. It’s 24-hours-a-day, so if we get the chance to go out and see a movie it’s pretty big,” says Pollard.

“I’ve always wanted to do something like this and I thought it would be a great way to keep the Harpo’s heritage important, get some of that old crowd together and put some money in the hands of good people.”

The morning of the concert, Vancouver Island’s largest annual community autism event — the Autism Walk — takes place at UVic. For more information and to pledge funds, please go to victoriaautismwalk.com.

The Grapes of Wrath were recently signed by Aporia Records and this will be the last show before they head into the studio to record their first album in 20 years.

“Weekly people talk to me about Harpo’s and I haven’t worked there since ’95,” says Pollard. “They say they wish it was back, but what they really mean is they wish they could be young again.”

In that vein, doors are at 8 p.m..  It’s an early show. M

Just Posted

Season opener: Blue Bridge launches with a spoof of Hitchcock classic

Broadway’s longest-running comedy, The 39 Steps runs Oct. 22 to Nov. 3 at the Roxy Theatre

Musical pipeline to Victoria continues for Bruce Cockburn

Iconic Canadian singer-songwriter brings considerable catalogue, new material to Royal on Nov. 8

Advice for first-time Rocky Horror Picture Show attendees

Get ready to dance, sing and throw toast

Adventures in photojournalism, courtesy UVic Southam Lecturer, Farah Nosh

Free multimedia event Wednesday highlights photog’s experiences in Middle East, Haida Gwaii

Island’s first international burlesque festival coming to Victoria

Performers from around the world to be showcased

Fashion Fridays: How to pose in photos

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Classic rock twin bill features the music of Fleetwood Mac and Rod Stewart

Dreams joins Rod & the Mods for Oct. 28 tribute show at the McPherson Playhouse in Victoria

Five Halloween activities for adults to celebrate the spooky season

Halloween isn’t just for little ghouls in Greater Victoria

City of Victoria seeks next Youth Poet Laureate

Nominations for the 2020 position close on Oct. 29

Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra launches new season

First up: Celebrating the Concerto on Oct. 27

Most Read