Frequent buskers Johnny Bomblast, left, and Dave Harris perform in front of Munro’s Books on Government Street. The roommates recently completed a new album of original material entitled Clouds. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Frequent buskers Johnny Bomblast, left, and Dave Harris perform in front of Munro’s Books on Government Street. The roommates recently completed a new album of original material entitled Clouds. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

VIDEO: Victoria buskers keep making music despite effects of COVID

Dave Harris and Johnny Bomblast team up to record pandemic-inspired album

It’s a relatively quiet mid-afternoon along Government Street, as buskers Dave Harris, known affectionately as the One Man Band; and Peter Janz, aka Johnny Bomblast, perform in front of Munro’s Books.

Roommates as well as musical partners, the pair have, like all entertainers, endured a tough musical year turned upside down by COVID-19 restrictions.

But they are back on the street making some money, brightening locals’ days and walking on air with the release of Clouds, an album of songs written, performed and arranged by Janz and Harris.

“People are starved for entertainment. There’s not a lot of options right now if you want live music, and we’re one of the options,” Harris said.

The album features songs about Victoria and life in the pandemic, from Love in the Time of Corona, Sick Feeling and Pink Blossoms, to nods to Janz’ roots such as Prairie Soil.

Janz, who had a handful of songs on the go and co-wrote other new ones with Harris, said people familiar with their busking material may be “pleasantly surprised” with the end result of the album.

“I think people … if they’ve watched us busk, the album will give them a bit more of that, ‘Oh, so this is what they can do if they could do it all,’” Janz said.

ALSO READ: Demi Lovato loves Vancouver Island singer’s cover version of her song

A six-week project recorded and engineered at their home, Clouds is a product of Janz and Harris’ efforts to stay musically active at a time when busking and other performance opportunities were limited.

Last spring, when public health concerns shut down most forms of live entertainment, you didn’t see buskers in the usual spots. As the new normal set in and safety measures were installed – minus the tourists – the environment changed, Harris said.

By June the duo was playing at such unlikely places as the Johnson Street bridge, not lucrative, but at least there were people out. They reinvented their performance routine doing a socially distanced show in Macdonald Park last summer.

Janz’ day job at a downtown shelter helped maintain structure in his life, “but musicians still have to make music,” he said.

“In the early days when we were kind of locked down, we started a once-a-week Facebook live show where I’d quiz Dave on music stuff. We called them Isolation Interviews and we kept up that way and this album came out of it as well.”

The installation of patios along Government Street last year increased the traffic flow and enhanced the feel of this downtown corridor. Locals who avoid the Inner Harbour were experiencing the duo’s live performances and connecting with them.

“I actually loved the season, it was so much fun playing for local Victorians, I really liked seeing the same faces,” Janz said.

The album officially drops April 10, but can be purchased digitally on Bandcamp. The pair have set up a Google document to take pre-orders for CD or vinyl copies, but you can also stop by their regular spot most days on Government Street.

ALSO READ: Food Eco District aims to get Greater Victoria residents planting


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Live music

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

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

Sooke plans to begin construction of the $4.9-million Church Road corridor project this summer. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke hopes to start Church Road Corridor project this summer

Road upgrade includes a roundabout, sidewalks, bike lanes and boulevards

The site of the proposed rental housing development at 2197 Otter Point Rd. (District of Sooke)
District of Sooke approves development with 77 rental units

New parking lot for John Phillips Memorial Park included in project

Food trucks can begin operating on May 1 in three Sooke parks: Ed Macgregor, Broomhill Playground, and John Phillips Memorial Park (weekends only). (Pixabay)
Sooke open for food truck pilot project

Applications open April 15, program begins May 1

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
Provincial pandemic aid passes the Legion by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The District of Sooke will continue to flower with Communities in Bloom. (Pixabay)
Sooke will bud but not bloom in provincial competition

Council scales back participation in Communities in Bloom

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Bulldogs forward Stephen Castagna flips the puck into the Clippers zone during a game on Oct. 24. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Island BCHL game postponed due to ‘potential positive’ COVID-19 test

Nanaimo Clippers team suspends activities, players isolating pending further test results

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

New HousingHub financing funds will encourage developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read