Yukon Buddy

Posted by Heather
In life, music
7Sep 09

Heather with Brandon Isaak at the Garden Bay Pub Sept. 6th 2009

Heather with Brandon Isaak at the Garden Bay Pub Sept. 6th 2009

Harpdog Brown and Brandon Isaak Playin' and Singin' The Blues

Harpdog Brown and Brandon Isaak Playin' and Singin' The Blues

     It’s been almost 20 years now since I spent a Summer up in Watson Lake, Yukon.  I went up there with 3 friends ( who had been there before ) that told me it was a great way to spend a Summer, get a couple of jobs, and make a lot of money.  They said it was called ” Isolation Pay ” because it was such a long distance away.  They were right – it certainly was a lucrative few months for us all.  We all took on more than one job – my main one was as a ” Barmaid ” in the lounge of a hotel, and I also did some waitressing for them in the restaurant, and worked for the Yukon Tourism Dept. helping to welcome guests, and make sure they had everything they needed.  I have to say it was one of the best Summers of my life.
     The people in Watson Lake were some of the most down-to-earth, kind and generous people that I have ever met.  Our original intention had been to head to Whitehorse, but looking back, I’m glad one of our vehicles broke down on the way up ( and it would’ve been 2 weeks’ wait for a part ).  We decided to settle in Watson Lake, and because it was the car dying that decided this for us, we had no place to stay, or any jobs lined up there.  We had nothing to worry about – we had complete strangers open up their homes to us until we could find jobs and a place to rent.  We all crashed in their Living Rooms, and they wouldn’t even take any money for groceries.  It was truly amazing to see how welcoming these people were.
     We all had jobs within a few days, and were offered a large trailer to rent for a really reasonable rate from my new Boss.  Things just seemed to fall into place right away.  We all settled in at our jobs quickly, started to meet people, and felt comfortable there almost instantly.  It was one of the hottest Summers on record there, so we were able to enjoy the nearby lake, often taking out a canoe with a guitar or two after our shifts were done, since it didn’t get dark there.
     The house band that was playing at the hotel I worked at consisted of a great group of guys, and they became like family to me.  I was introduced to the sons of one of the players, and became good buddies with them.  Brandon and Chris Isaak became really good friends of mine that Summer, and I spent much of my free time with them, or hangin’ out with them, and their parents.  They sort of ” took me under their wings ” and watched over me like a daughter, always making sure I was safe, and had enough to eat etc.  I always enjoyed my time spent with the Isaak family.  I will never forget their kindness, making me feel more comfortable in a new town, and having me over for many meals etc.
     I met a lot of great people that Summer, and , thanks to Facebook, have recently re-connected with a few of them.  ( Brandon and his Mom are two of them. )  A couple of Summers ago, Brandon told me that he and his band, the Twisters, were going to be playing a gig at The Fairview Pub in Vancouver.  We lived not too far from there, and I was really happy to have an opportunity to see my buddy again after so many years, so my husband and I went down to see the show.  It was awesome to see Brandon again, and the band played some smokin’ Blues !!!  There was another friend of his from the Yukon there ( who now lives in the Vancouver area ) so she and I burned up the dancefloor to their sweet tunes.
     Brandon and I vowed that night not to let so many years slip by again before our next visit.  Well, after leaving Vancouver to move up to The Sunshine Coast last Summer, it’s been a lot harder to keep in touch with people, due to distance, limited ferry schedules etc.  Brandon and I have kept in better touch over the past couple of years, and I kept bugging him about when he’d be playing up here on The Coast.  A couple of weeks ago, he sent me a poster advertising a gig up in Garden Bay, and I was very excited at the possibility of maybe seeing my buddy, and hearing him play again.
     This time, Brandon was in a duo with harmonica player Harpdog Brown, and it was their first time working together as only a duo.  They had 4 nights at the Garden Bay Pub, and when we walked in to see them last night, the place was packed with people enjoying their Blues.  Brandon plays a mean Guitar, Harpdog plays his harmonica, and they both have excellent vocal skills.  The crowd was whipped into a frenzy time after time with their rousing renditions of both cover tunes, and original music.  People just couldn’t stay in their seats, and had to dance, despite the smaller venue.
     It was so wonderful to see Brandon again, and we had the chance to chat a little about my music, too.  We’re thinking I should practice a couple of Blues tunes, and he’ll let me sit in some time at one of his gigs – that would be fabulous !  He has always been a good friend, and I really appreciate his support ( and words of wisdom ) when it comes to discussing making music.  I look forward to the possibility of some day being able to sing a tune or two with my old buddy, Yukon Slim.

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