A lot has changed since Gary Stuart began singing in a ’60s high school band.
Sure the Teck retiree’s mane has faded grey and the group is scattered beyond Trail – but his pipes are as strong as ever and he’s ready to revive rock n’roll tunes on stage Saturday night with Gary & the Flashbacks.
“It’s going to be a great show,” says the self-taught vocalist. “A lot of fun, every song is a dance song, and people will recognize the classic tunes.”
The Flashbacks feature Terry Alton on lead guitar, keyboardist Keith Kemp, drummer Doug Deyotte, Gord Fisher on sax, and the youngest member, Jason Thomas, on bass. All have a long history playing gigs in the Trail area, though rehearsing for Silver City Days’ big show comes with a modern twist.
“The way we learn songs these days is I compile a whole playlist on a You Tube channel,” explained Alton. “It’s really quick and easy. We look at the playlist on the computer and work on our parts, so by the time we get together to practise everyone knows what they are doing, we just tweak things.”
That’s a long way from mustering in mom and pop’s garage or basement, which is how Stuart began his musical foray back in ‘64.
“We started at Tim Messenger’s place in Fruitvale,” Stuart reminisced, mentioning Tim eventually went into the software industry and is now retired in Peachland. “It was during the Christmas holidays that year, I had just turned 17.”
The “we” he is speaking about is a well known Trail band called The Club 65 Citations. Besides Stuart and Messenger, the group included drummer Jake Tremblay as well as guitarists Merv Fryer and Alan Crawford.
In three short years, the high school teens marked their place in Silver City music history; they went from the local stage to the big city of Penticton for the 1967 B.C. Battle of the Bands – and won.
The Citations also garnered a special award by the City of Trail that year.
“I was only 10 years old when Gary was playing,” recalled Alton. “I heard of Gary, knew he was in the Citations, and they won the key to the city that year,” he joked. “That was the only time they gave it to anybody, and he’s never given it back.”
While Alton and his Flashback mates are familiar faces in the local music scene, Stuart only recently hit the stage after a decades long hiatus.
“I haven’t sang a lot since 1971, once in a while (Citation members) would come back to visit and I would step up and do a casual thing,” he said, adding, 20 years ago the group reunited for a show in the Cominco arena, and played for an audience of 2,700. “Keith Smyth (Silver City Days operations manager) came to me after we did the car show last year as Gary and the Flashbacks. It went over so well he asked if we could extend that.”
Four rehearsals later, Gary & the Flashbacks are ready to open with Bob Seger’s ‘78 classic, “Old Time Rock and Roll”- and they invite everyone to come out and cut a rug on Saturday from 8 p.m. until midnight.
The 50s and 60s classics will jive with the city’s rejuvenated Homecoming Celebration theme, right up until the final number.
“The first song I ever learned was ‘Louie Louie,’” said Stuart. “And that’s the very last song we’ll do.”
Cash-only tickets are on sale at the Doorway, Remax All Pro Realty, and the theatre box office now, no minors allowed.