The members of local bar band, Back in the Daze, including Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Scott Robinson, have found new ways to keep up their musical chops during the pandemic via a series of online performances, both live and pre-recorded.
Their latest such event is a livestream this Saturday, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m.
“We did one about a month and a half ago,” Robinson says on the phone from his home in the Village. “Our last live show was back in February. Since then, we’ve been getting together and learning new songs, so people will see us playing some stuff we haven’t played live before.”
That February show was supposed to be Robinson’s last with the band for a while. He departed in March for a trip around the world that was quickly cut short when the pandemic hit. He and a friend were stranded in Peru, until the Canadian government was able to arrange emergency evacuation flights back to Canada. Meanwhile, the other band members, all multi-instrumentalists, were planning to play gigs without Robinson, before bars, restaurants and banquet halls were all closed down by the Province.
Robinson estimates that Back in the Daze books anywhere from 40 to 55 gigs in an average year. Weddings, New Year’s Eve parties, festivals and special events have provided a steady source of income for a number of years for the five members, who are all in their mid-20s. In NOTL alone they have played the Strawberry and Peach Festivals, the Pumphouse Art Show and the Canada Day party. They’ve also been the go-to band for many NOTL Sailing Club gatherings.
Luckily enough, the band members don’t rely on that income to get by. “We don’t do this full time,” explains Robinson. “There are musicians across the region who are much more affected by the pandemic than us. We do it as a really fun thing to do together, as a side job, for extra income on the side. It’s nobody’s primary source of income.”
Robinson, for instance, works for John Hawley at the Village. Singer/drummer/trumpeter Billy Sadler has a job with the City of St. Catharines, while guitarist Cole Shennan is an apprentice with Speer Electrical. Drummer/saxophonist/guitarist Joel Lewczynski is currently working at Ravine Vineyards, while keyboardist/guitarist Jesse Day is finishing teacher’s college this year at Brock University, and is the head ice cream-maker at Avondale Dairy Bar.
Still, the loss of the busy summer festival season meant that the extra income wasn’t there for them this year. But ask any of the band members and they will tell you that much more than the money, it’s the fun they have playing together live that they really missed.
If you’ve seen Back in the Daze live, you know that fun is the name of their game. Their concerts see the five of them shuffling instruments, taking turns on lead vocals and just generally having an amazingly good time playing some of their favourite classic rock songs from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. They feed off the atmosphere of the crowd, and the crowd in turn inspires the band into high-energy performances.
Robinson describes Back in the Daze as “young men playing the music that we love.” Most of their repertoire consists of songs (by Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, the Band and others) that were all hits long before these young men were even a twinkle in the eyes of their parents. It’s clear those parents themselves must have had some influence on their sons’ musical tastes – they’re often seen at their live shows proudly enjoying the party.
Back in the Daze will soon be celebrating their 10th year together. The five musicians were all students at Laura Secord Secondary School, meeting for the first time in Grade 9. “We were lucky to go to a music-focused high school,” says Robinson. “We just sort of synergistically came together and started in Cole’s basement after school one day.” They performed together at two school events that year, and never looked back.
The Nov. 28 livestream gives them a chance to connect once again with their fans, albeit in an online format. “It’s great to be able to provide a little levity and fun into a weekend night,” Robinson says. “It’s so different from what we’re used to, and what we’ve been doing for the last 10 years. But it’s nice to bring some joy into people’s lives and into their homes.”
For Saturday’s show, the full band will be setting up in the basement of Day’s parents home in St. Catharines to play live. They promise they will follow the conversation during the show and will take requests via the live chat. The livestream begins at 8 pm. Visit the Back in the Daze Facebook page to tune in.