Friends, Music and Laughter

By Judee Fong


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Photo by: Judee Fong Members of the Remember When Quartet (from l to r): Newest member and guitarist Bill Mooney, bass player Bob Whittet, vocalist Joy Fox and leader and pianist Marty Adams.

Sharing the bond of friendship, music and laughter, Remember When is a quartet of active musicians in Victoria. When they perform at seniors’ residences, their audiences often recognize the songs and add their voices for a spontaneous and spirited sing-along.

“We don’t do actual sing-alongs,” says leader and keyboardist Marty Adams, “but people recognize the music we play. You look around the room and see people singing along, alone or as a group. When you get such an impulsive response, it makes it so much fun to play.”

Marty played piano for Doc and the Doo Wops for a number of years before it disbanded. Today, he plays for the popular Rukus, another local rock-‘n’-roll band, as well as leading Remember When.

“My Dad started Remember When and was looking for a piano player because he lost his singer and pianist,” says Marty. “Joy joined as the vocalist and since I wasn’t doing too much, at the time, I said I would play for a short while with them. But I stayed even when I played with Rukus, and my Dad has since retired. All these experiences remain with you, giving Remember When music appealing to all ages.”

The group’s newest member, Bill Mooney was 41 when he got his first guitar. “I had no musical training, but I wanted to play in a rock-‘n’-roll band. I bought an old guitar and taught myself six-chords. I listened to Peter, Paul and Mary records and played my chords along with them.”

Feeling more confident, Bill gained experience playing with a couple of groups in Saskatchewan before moving to Victoria. “I heard of Marty from a friend and, shortly after, met him at a Christmas sing-along where we decided to play together a bit.” Marty interrupted with a laugh and explains, “The Christmas thing was interesting because I came with my wife to listen to a Christmas concert, but I got hit at the door with, ‘Would you mind playing the piano today?’ and while I was fumbling for an answer, this insistent voice said, ‘We have a piano and music over there and Bill will be on guitar and he’ll sing.” Bill laughs as he got to meet Marty and passed his impromptu audition for Remember When.
 
A former high school band/choir teacher, Bob Whittet met Marty through their music activities at various schools, eventually working together at the same school in Metchosin. Leaving Victoria, Bob returned at an opportune time to play bass for Marty, his Dad and Joy.

“It’s been great for me because I can play my bass with a group rather than by myself in the basement.”

Joy Fox provides the vocals for the group. When she sings the slow ballads, her voice evokes the blues and jazz era. “I like singing slow ballads, but our list covers a wide range of pop, rock-‘n’-roll, soul, and so much more.”

Like the others, music plays a significant role in Joy’s life. She recalls, “I was a whiny kid and my fingers couldn’t manage a piano, so I sang. I was only three, at the time. There wasn’t any television in our home, but we did have radio, so we learned the songs of my parents’ era, as well as songs from the radio.”

Today, she sings with the Starlight Pops group as well as doing regular gigs with Remember When. Busy with rehearsals for Starlight Pop’s upcoming Motown concert in June, Joy says, “Remember When has a different kind of music, which never makes singing the music repetitious or boring.”

The group has played together for a long time and Bill Mooney, the newest member, is right at home with them. The members have a playful banter, an easy give-and-take attitude, until they plunge professionally into a song. Amidst much laughter, the group agrees that while Marty makes up a list of possible songs, other members can suggest a better piece or veto one until, eventually, a song set is agreed upon for instruments, vocals and that fits the planned theme.

Remember When loves their audience and the audiences love them. “One of the pitfalls of other groups performing at senior [residences] is that their music may play down to their audience with old, old songs,” says Bob. “I want our music to speak to the audience, to be fun and enjoyable.”

Marty agrees. “Our audiences will sing along with ‘Jeremiah was a Bullfrog.’ They’ll sing along with songs from the ’60s and ’70s because they were listening to this music along with their kids. Our playlist covers the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, as well as a few from the ’40s and ’50s, plus several current ones of today.”
 
Joy hopes her music takes people away from their cares and troubles, if only for a short while. Sometimes, a particular song brings back a poignant memory for a few.

“It’s a wonderful feeling when some of the audience comes up afterwards to give me a hug because a particular song recalls a special moment in their life,” says Joy.

“People recognize and like the music,” says Marty. “Audiences won’t scratch their heads and say, ‘Where did that come from?’ People come up to us afterwards and say. ‘I knew absolutely every word of the songs you played. I was singing along with you!’”

To contact Remember When to sing/play at your special occasion or site, call Marty Adams at 778-351-2999 or email: remember.when@shaw.ca
Website: http://www.rememberwhenvictoria.ca

 

JUNE 2015 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE

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