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Searching for place to play guitar led to new friendship
Sometimes a journey of discovery ends in the most unlikely of places. I was recently searching for a place that features live music, a place in Osoyoos where I can play my guitar.
I must admit I sometimes crave a fix for my addiction to playing to a live audience.
Live music is an interactive art, a communion between player(s) and audience and there is nothing that balances my universe more than a good old jam session cheered on by an enthusiastic audience.
The players and audience are both essential parts to those magical moments. And we could all use more of those moments in our lives.
I inquired at the local drinking holes and was told that this being the off season, most venues are in hibernation mode until the tourists flock back to town. I met some people from the RV Park who get together and play at a restaurant in town on Thursdays. I also met a lot of musicians who seemed eager to play if there was a venue.
I quickly realized that Osoyoos has talent, but no place to showcase it year round.
Be patient I was told, wait for spring and everything opens up.
A place with an ‘open mic’ concept would surely benefit the businesses, their patrons and would give the players in town that much needed space to perform to their hearts content.
I resolved to be patient and wait for spring. A bit disappointed, I put my guitar away, even though it was crying to be played.
To my surprise I then happened to meet someone who introduced me to a local gem of a person, someone who synthesizes art and music together in the form of highly crafted musical instruments.
Mark Kubiak builds and repairs all forms of musical instruments. Mark comes from Oroville, Washington.
I know some of you are thinking, ‘hmmm Oroville isn’t Osoyoos.’
To those folks I say, “Get over it.”
Osoyoos and Oroville are almost the same place. Our citizens mingle together and co-operate in many ways. Many people from Osoyoos shop across the border and many from Oroville use the relatively bigger center of Osoyoos for shopping and recreation.
We have a symbiotic relationship based not only in commerce, but in friendship. I’ve met as many people from Oroville in town as I have from Osoyoos.
Mark comes to Osoyoos often to hang out and meet friends. He considers Osoyoos like a hometown. He loves the friendly people and has many connections to Osoyoos.
I met Mark while searching for a place to play and discovered a true artist in our midst.
Mark’s story is very interesting. He began his career building and repairing old wooden ships on Kodiak Island in Alaska. His disillusionment with life in Vietnam-era California led him to head north where the world seemed less crazy.
He worked with a well-known ship builder and learned to work wonders with exotic woods.
At an early age he also began tinkering with fixing his own musical instruments. The first instruments he built were Celtic harps. After a while he began making his own line of guitars and other acoustic instruments. To call his work art is an understatement. These instruments are beauty and grace glued and joined together to create wonder to the eyes and ears.
I never found a place to play my guitar, but I found a greater inspiration. Mark lives his life as a creator of beauty, a musician and heck of a nice guy who deserves to be recognized for his high level of craftsmanship and his devotion to making handmade instruments.
These days almost every instrument you find in music shops is mass produced on the cheap for consumer consumption.
It is rare to find a local builder whose art is so easily available and most importantly, at such a high level of quality.
I have been invited to play a few of Mark’s latest creations. I can’t wait. I’ve seen his work online and I anticipate finally playing one of his guitars.
Call up your fellow musicians and organize. Build it and they will come.
Finally, I want to wish everyone a Merry Xmas and joyous New Year.
Khalid Ali Taha is a passionate artist, musician and writer and the new arts columnist for the Osoyoos Times.