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The Whiskeyjays: A family history
April 19, 2017
My name is Luc Josef. I am a full-time student. I work part-time as well. I am married. I am in a band. My wife has often said jokingly (not always jokingly) that I spend more quality time with the band then I do with her. This is admittedly not an exaggeration. Being in a band is like being in a relationship; it is a huge investment of time, energy, emotion and money, and you often end up broken heart and disillusioned with nothing but bitter sweet memories. So what drives us small time, amateur musicians to keep making music? It’s not the glory and definitely not the money (LOL), no its about passion. Passion will do strange things to a man. It keeps you up at night, sticks in the back of your mind all day, distracts your from work, and eats at you until you give into the urge to create. OK, that is melodramatic but its all true. Just ask any musician. What else would drive us time after time to the brink of social and emotional disaster?
I have been playing in bands for about 10 years now, which is (coincidentally) the same amount of time that I have been with my wife. It was my first year of college at Trinity Western University and I had finally met my people. People who loved folk music and rock’n’roll, and who knew how to jam. We would play for hours on the grass outside (Westcoast weather permitting). Soon our group of 3 became 5, then 7. Suddenly we were a musical behemoth of 12 musicians (give or take) busking and playing catastrophic open mics, pulling people off the streets, accepting anyone and everyone who wanted to play. We were known as the Busted String Family. It was a beautiful thing, and I learned that how music is blind and has an incredible way of bringing people together. However, our utter disorganization and gargantuan size soon led to our implosion. We fell apart as easily as we fell together. We officially “dis-band-ed” when I dropped out of TWU and went on a year-long back-packing trip across Europe. Such is the tragic and ephemeral nature of the college band.
I came home with a burning desire to create and perform, so I called up some of the remaining old gang, Cam, Jodi and Byron, and we started another folk ensemble. Doing what we did best, busking, and gradually moving into coffee shops, farmer markets, and anywhere else we could find people to listen to us. We couldn’t keep it small though, I invited my old partner in crime (Stephan, that’s right, THE Stephan from The Whiskeyjays), as well as my brother (who has the voice of an angel) and Marcus (another old friend who played drums) and we set out as Langley most devastating folk’n’roll band, The New Atlas. That’s right, before I knew it we were a 7 piece band (we Catholics of a tendency to multiply irresponsibly). However the wilds of the Congolese jungle beckoned to Cam and Jodi, who ended up getting married and moving to the Congo to be missionaries. Ain’t that love for ya. They currently are living back in Seattle. I still love them.
Well after that I needed to take a break from music for a while. I got married to my beautiful wife Lauren, got accepted to finish my degree at UBC an moved to Vancouver. I put music to the side. Tried to forget about my passion and be an “adult”. The end. Flash forward to late 2015, I move back to Langley due to rising cost of living downtown, and Stephan and I begin plotting our next move; one last attempt at making it happen. Thus began the brief carreer of Furlough. We moved away from folk and tried our hand at rock’n’roll. We realized we needed to be playing with musicians who were more talented than we were, so we began scouting out serious talent, and then convincing them that despite our mediocre musicianship, we are kick-ass songwriters (right?). Well, we found a bass player, drummer, and another electric guitar player, we even sounded pretty damn good, recorded a sweet little EP, played some great shows… but unfortunately most musicians do in fact live up to our their stereotype as flaky and unreliable. Stephan grew more and more frustrated with our predicament and could not shake the feeling of doom.
That summer I started running an open mic with my brother in Langley. I finally decided that maybe the easiest way to do things was on my own, I could just play by myself, do my own thing, a musical celibate. That’s when the cold hand of destiny dealt us an Ace. My friend Micheal Viens, a great folk musician who runs a trad Irish jam at Johnny Foxe’s (where I join them on banjo on occasion) suggested that I meet up with his nephew, who was my age, plays the stand-up bass, and had just moved to Langley. I invited him out to the open-mic, and it was love at first sight. Stephan, Vince and I began jamming together and booking small local shows right away. Vince insisted on changing our name, since we were in fact a new creation, with a new sound and a new purpose. And so we became (after several trial names :s) The Whiskeyjays. We have kept our early folk/country influence, and have also kept our love of Rock’n’roll, and we have slowly weeded through a different musicians to consolidate a solid 5 piece combo (that’s as small as I’ll go apparently) including Vincent Coulomb, Steve Johnson, Thomas Perry, Stephan Legal, and myself, (Luc Josef).
Over the last 10 years, there has been heartbreak, disappointment, failure, and time wasted. But if I have learned one thing, it’s that I will always make music. It’s an instinct, a drive, an attraction. Live has thrown so many hurtles, but my love has stayed strong and I think Stephan and I have finally found a group of guys who are in it for the long haul. So join us for the ride, we have our work cut out for us, but we can do anything,