Bob Bossin retiring to Gabriola with farewell tour

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, February 6 2018

The Old Folksinger, Bob Bossin is retiring.

Honest! His farewell tour is coming to Gabriola next week.

He will be joined on stage by long-time colleagues and friends, former bandmates Marie-Lynn Hammond, Ben Mink and Calvin Cairns from Stringband, and Gabriola’s own Paul Gellman and Dinah D.

The original show was booked for Friday, Feb. 16, at the Community Hall, and looked to sell out so fast that Bossin added a second show for Feb. 15 at the Roxy.

As of press time, there were very few tickets remaining for either of the Gabriola shows.

Bossin has already done a farewell show in Toronto, where he grew up. Shows in Vancouver and Victoria round out the tour.

“This farewell tour is because it’s going to be fun to go out with a bang. 

“It’s an even bigger bang than I imagined - I’m getting to play with all my favourite musicians - and we’re having people drop in on the show as a surprise.”

In 1971, Bossin founded Stringband, a Canadian folk ensemble that developed a dedicated following over their 15 years together. 

They were noted for songs that explored Canadian themes, often with humour, such as Bossin’s “The Maple Leaf Dog,” “Dief Will be Chief Again” and “Show Us the Length.”

As to why he’s retiring at the still-energetic age of 72, Bossin says it’s a combination of reasons.

“I’m in the same position as anyone else who really likes their job. I really enjoy the performing. But I’m 72. I’ve got how many years left? The question is how do I want to spend them?”

Performing on stage is just the tip of the iceberg says Bossin.

What’s wearing is the practicing, the travelling, the setting up, the taking down, trying to time a show in Prince George and a show in Quesnel.

“A lot of my downtime was taken up. And I want to see what creative things I might come up with. And I want to see more of my kids, more of my friends.

“I have a dream of going to Toronto without a show to do. 

“I grew up there, I have many friends there I don’t get to see when on tour, so I look forward to seeing them.

“There’s also the ‘quit while I’m ahead.’”

He said he also wants to have room in his life for other creative projects.

Along with being a folksinger, songwriter and storyteller for the past 50 years, Bossin has also been a social activist.

Together with Gabriolan Paul Grignon, Bossin released a video on YouTube last year, in which he outlines the danger of a Kinder Morgan expansion of the tank farm on Burnaby Mountain.

The video has had thousands of views between Facebook and YouTube and is still getting passed around.

Bossin said putting that video presentation together “just happened…at a time when I had time to do it. 

“If I had been preparing for shows, it wouldn’t have happened. I want to see what other space there is.

“Victor Anthony gave me the phrase about re-embracing his amateur status. That’s a great way of looking at it. I’m going to keep playing and writing tunes and lyrics. If the queen wants to fly me over to England, I’d consider coming out of retirement. Elton John won’t be available.”

Sir Elton John announced recently he will be retiring, also after a final farewell tour.

Bossin said, “I’m having to discipline myself about looking into festivals or preparing for more shows.

“The question is, do I want to do that, or spend time with family and friends, and get the garlic in? It’s both exciting and scary. Because I’m not good at sitting around with nothing to do, I get antsy really quick. It’s my nature. But that’s the way new creative things get in.”

As for those with him on stage for this farewell tour, Bossin has a lot of love to spread around.

“I really like this band. I think it’s wonderful to be playing with Ben Mink again. He’s won Grammys, Junos, Genies. 

“He’s worked with Rush and Feist and all sorts of people. We’re very old friends, he was one of Stringband’s fiddlers.

“Ben and Calvin are so much fun together. 

“Marie-Lynn Hammond is coming all the way from Toronto. She’s doing this for me, to honour our relationship over the years. 

“If I would have said this was a Bob Bossin concert, 30 people would have come. Everyone’s coming to see Marie-Lynn.”

As for the set list, Bossin says there will be Stringband classics, and some of the stuff that feels good with this particular group of musicians. 

“We have two fiddlers, three counting Paul. There will be new material too. It’s music. 

“And we’ll tell stories at each other’s expense.”

Bossin says he is not retiring from his other love here on Gabriola, baseball.

“I am not retiring from ball. I am not retiring from Gabriola, I am retiring to Gabriola.”

While it looks like both shows are sold out, those interested should check in with the ticket vendors to see if any tickets are still available. Bossin said, “We’re getting the odd return and re-selling them to someone else. Check in. For the moment it looks like both will be packed.”

The Vancouver show is sold out. Victoria is looking to be as well. For more information and tickets, visit Nature Spirit Earth Market’s website or store.