There’s something special about Sooke that’s stuck with Valdy since he first called the community home back in the early 1970s.
“I’ve travelled the country a lot and met people in many communities,” said the two-time Juno Awards winner for folk music artist and songwriter and folk music entertainer. “A huge matrix of old families is the glue of the community.”
“It takes a while before you realize the social depth of the community. I did all my shopping at the local gas station. Sooke has a wonderful base of families and social solidity, families who lived here and expanded to next generations who live here.”
The 77-year-old singer and songwriter’s creative side got off to a rather rocky, unceremonious start before eventually evolving into a career spanning more than 50 years and 15 albums.
“We had a piano at home, and I started taking lessons, doing drills and scales,” he recalled.
“I started creating music when I was seven and told my piano teacher I’d written a piece. She asked me to play it and gruffly said it sounded terrible, full of discord. Despite that, I kept going to her because my mom provided the lessons … not particularly diligent music. I can still write music faster than I can read it.”
Although Valdy usually records and performs as a solo artist, he has collaborated with fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Gary Fgelgaard on three albums, the most recent, Contenders 3: Off the Floor, released in 2015.
“I still like the joy of playing music,” he explained when asked what keeps him touring. “If I played in one place, I’d get a diminishing number of people, so I travel.”
While most of his time on the road is anchored in Canadian cross-country tours, Valdy has taken his music to U. S. audiences and other parts of the globe. That includes four trips to New Zealand, where he forged a strong connection with Graham Wardrop, an acclaimed guitarist and vocalist from Wellington.
“I was surprised at how well everyone in New Zealand plays,” Valdy said. “They’re exceptional musicians, and Graham’s a brilliant player. I’ve had him come to Canada five or six times.”
Valdy’s most recent songwriting venture is a timely tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth, aptly titled I Really Miss my Queen.
“She was second to none,” Valdy noted, adding that he will include the song when he performs in Sooke on Jan. 21.
“I’m always working on new material. When I perform, I always play songs people know me by and new stuff because it needs mileage to knock the corners off.”
When he’s not writing, performing or touring, you’ll probably find Valdy tending to his six-hectare property on Salt Spring Island, where he has lived for more than 30 years.
“I don’t run anymore, but I still log and take care of the deadwood on my property.”
Although he was disappointed the annual Christmas carolling in the parking lot of Salt Spring Mercantile in Fulford Harbour was cancelled due to weather, Valdy was pleased participants were able to come up with a solution.
“We’ve been doing it for 30 years, so we did a Merry Makeup Monday on January 5,” he added with a chuckle.
The Sooke Folk Music Society presents Valdy in concert at 7 p.m. at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 1962 Murray Road, on Jan. 21.
Tickets are $20 and are available at sookefolkmusicsociety.com, or the door.
The society was established in 1992 to bring quality musical entertainment to Sooke and supports the Sooke Food Bank and accessible music education for children in the community. .
Find out more about local folk music events by joining the email list at firstname.lastname@example.org.