On the tail end of their Home Routes tour, Juno-nominated singer songwriter Del Barber and guitarist Grant Siemens impressed and serenaded a small crowd in the Snow Lake Motor Inn on Feb. 10.
Barber began the show with what sounded like a well-versed story of an inspiring trip he took into a Home Depot in central B.C. He had the crowd chuckling at insights of this visit. But folks weren’t there for the talk and as soon as he and Siemens started into the opening chords of "Right Side of the Wrong," it was obvious they would get what they came for.
Del Barber is a Manitoba musician who resides in Inglis and cites Steve Earle and John Prine as a couple of his influences. His music and lyrics play out both his hometown roots and affinity with those two folk-country legends. I noted the Prine/Earle similarities throughout the evening, but it was never more apparent than the second stanza of Barber’s song "Peter and Jenny Lee;" it easily proved the kinship … “She was roly and poly and able; He hired her under the table; To clean the bathrooms, vacuum and run the laundry machines; Before they knew it, they were drowning in that romantic dream.”
Guitarist Grant Siemens’s playing lent itself well to Barber’s catalogue of music. He gets some big sound out of his blue Fender Jaguar, picking at the thicker strings, manipulating the whammy bar and coaxing almost an echo sound from his amp … Barber’s tunes gave him ample opportunity to prove his prowess.
In addition to Barber’s droll repartee, which had some laughing out loud, the duo played several memorable songs: "Patient Man" being one of these, "Big Smoke" being another. They also incorporated other artists’ material into the evening, doing fine renditions of Prine’s "Spanish Pipedream," Roger Miller’s "Dang Me," and Waylon Jennings’s "Sweet Mental Revenge."
The next Snow Lake date on the circuit is March 11, when the banjo and fiddle duo of Riley Calcagno and Vivian Leva bring their traditional Appalachian harmonies to the motor inn.
In other news … concern has risen throughout Snow Lake with the impending departure of the community’s only physician, Dr. Eman Yousif. A group of "Concerned Citizens for Healthcare" appeared at the Feb. 6 council meeting. Pharmacist and vice-president of the Snow Lake Chamber of Commerce Medhat Geloa spoke on their behalf, expressing their concern and asked the council to participate in a health task force they had formed.
Geloa said that every business in the community will be affected by the lack of a doctor and it could make people more apt to leave or re-evaluate plans to locate here. He proposed that the community take immediate action and speak up often and loud for high quality, uninterrupted service … and not from a physician assistant, from a doctor.
Through talks with concerned locals, the task force (a temporary grouping, under one leader, for the purpose of accomplishing a definite objective) was formed to take on the situation and push as hard as possible to achieve results. Geloa asked that the town appoint a council member to the task force and he explained that the group themselves had designated Garry Zamzow as their delegate. They propose that these two people will invite others to help in various areas of expertise. The task force would report back to council on a bi-weekly basis. Once done, Geloa thanked the council for their time and said he would answer questions if there were any.
Coun. Richard Jones asked if Geloa thought the regional health authority (RHA) would be open to the town offering their own incentives to attract doctors. He replied that he did not think that the RHA would stand in council’s way, if this is what was decided. Deputy mayor Penny Roberts wondered if the RHA’s funding for the position would leave with the doctor. Geloa replied that the current plan is to staff the position with locums (temporary stand-ins) and there is no indication that there would be any downgrade of the hours worked, although he added that the RHA doesn’t see anyone moving into a full-time resident position in the near term. Coun. Peter Roberts asked if locums could write prescriptions. Geloa replied that they could, adding that locums are not settled in or committed to the community; they would be here to do the job for a short period, then move on. It was his opinion that having locums take over the service on a long-term basis opens the door to cuts … that they could start with having someone for four weeks every month, then after a year downgrade it to three weeks per month. He also stated that physicians assistants are limited in the prescription scripts they can write and that they mentor under another physician elsewhere. The mayor thanked Geloa for his presentation and said that they would advise him on their involvement in the task force. Later in the meeting the council voiced support for the initiative and appointed two council members to sit on the task force.