Got You Covered
by Jaclyn Killins
Vintage is possibly the most versatile cover band on the Island. Donnie Bowers and Tim MacPherson team up as Vintage 2.0, described on their website as “a duke-it-out, down-and-dirty, grass-roots acoustic duo.” When they are in need of a bigger sound they call in bassist Chris Buote and drummer Nat Lamoureux to fill out the sound and morph into the full-blow rock band Vintage 4.0.
With this flexibility they can play anything from a small house party to a Canada Day rock show and everything in between.
Bowers and MacPherson, who bonded over a common interest in music in high school, are the co-founders of Vintage. Bowers describes MacPherson as highly creative. “He’s the colour and I’m the dots that keep [Vintage] together.”
Not blind to the stigmas, Bowers defends the creative merit of playing in a cover band, pointing out that even though they aren’t writing the songs they are interpreting them, taking them apart and putting them together again, weaving them into something new. “All of the greatest actors in the world didn’t write the movie,” Bowers said.
It also takes a lot of musical knowledge to listen to a song and recreate it in an interesting way. “You’ve got to have good ears. You’ve got to take it in, re-formulate it, and put it out in a palatable form,” Bowers said.
Vintage not only re-creates songs, but they change things up, playing different solos and arrangements every time. They play everything, from country to rock to rap. “It just comes from loving music and listening to music and playing so many gigs that it just works out that way.”
Every Thursday at Hunter’s Ale House Bowers and MacPherson are at the mercy of their audience, playing all requests. They take 4 or 5 requests at a time and string them together to create cohesive mini-sets. “It’s such a challenge musically, but it’s so much fun,” Bowers said.
When Bowers and MacPherson were trying to break into music in the early 90s it was almost impossible to get a gig as an original band. Cover bands dominated the scene, and so it was natural for them to hone their skill playing other people’s music. Instead of concentrating on writing they focused on developing their musicianship.
While he has a lot of respect for the young bands putting their own music out there, Bowers is at a stage in his life where it is hard to find time to play music let alone work on writing music. He looks forward to the future when he can get into writing as well as playing, but for now he enjoys the camaraderie of the cover scene, a place where you can strap on a guitar and be confident because you know you are surrounded by solid musicians.