Folk veteran Bob Bossin bows out in Sidney

IN CONCERT

What: Bob Bossin’s Farewell Concert
Where: Charlie White Theatre, 2243 Beacon Ave., Sidney
When: Saturday, Feb. 17, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $32 at tickets.marywinspear.ca or the May Winspear box office (250-656-0275)

Bob Bossin is retiring from the road with a final bow tonight in Sidney, likely the last headlining concert by the Stringband co-founder after more than 40 years in the folk-music business.

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“I like the idea of going out with a bang and having a big party,” Bossin, 72, said in an interview from his home on Gabriola Island.

He played a similar farewell show in his hometown of Toronto last year, and gave a sold-out concert on Gabriola Island on Thursday. Once the curtain closes tonight, fans of the legendary folk singer and banjoist will have few opportunities to catch him in concert anywhere that isn’t near his Gulf Island home.

Bossin isn’t ruling everything out, though.

“There’s nothing to say I can’t get up and play a few songs now and then,” he said. “If the Queen called tomorrow and said she was going to fly me over to England to appear at the palace, I’d be sorely tempted.”

Bossin is not retiring from studio work, however. He is recording his farewell shows with his longtime Stringband cohorts, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Ben Mink and Calvin Cairns, and will still be active at Kinder Morgan pipeline protests when they arise, he said.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will introduce the show in Sidney tonight.

Bossin said he began thinking about retirement two years ago.

“I started to think about what it would be like if I wasn’t planning shows and travelling. If I wasn’t thinking that way, and didn’t have all this time to take out of my schedule, what else might I do? What will fit in that space?”

He doesn’t have a clear answer just yet. He is liable to record in the future, thinking he might add to the Stringband canon that includes the favourites Show Us the Length, Tugboat and Dief Will Be the Chief Again.

Bossin and Hammond, who founded Stringband in Toronto in 1971, played their last official show under the band’s name in 1986, but have been active since, appearing on each other’s solo recordings while playing the occasional Stringband reunion show with accordionist Mink (who was in the band from 1973 until 1976) and fiddler Cairns (who joined in 1983).

Keyboardist Paul Gellman and bassist Dinah D. will join the Stringband core for tonight’s performance.

His days at the centre of Toronto’s thriving folk scene — when his material was being covered by everyone from Pete Seeger to Ian Tyson — are a distant memory for Bossin. But he still feels the need to create, so that is what he’ll do.

“I’m a border collie — I work,” Bossin said. “I like to have a task. So I thought I’d give myself five years or 10 years to give myself the space to do that.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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