Bringing the past back to life with Big City Band reunion

Marc Lalonde
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June 7 concert will reunite iconic West Island band -- for one night only

Big City Band

A upcoming reunion concert in Dorval will bring together members of an iconic West Island rock n' roll band and help stir echoes of a simpler time – when rock n' roll was king and the living was easy – and the members of the Big City Band, who will reunite in Dorval for one night only next Saturday are hoping to relive some of that magic again.

"We're expecting a lot of friends and a lot of people who supported us over the years, and we think it will be a great time," one of the founding members of the Big City Band, Bill Acheson, said. "How good we're going to be is another story entirely. We haven't played together since the early '80s," he said.

The Big City Band, which formed out of two other local bands in 1976, was a West Island staple in the late '70s and early '80s, regularly playing the Maples Inn showbar in Pointe Claire and the downtown bar The Mustache. Over the years, various members rotated in and out of the group, and Acheson expects many of them to be on hand at the reunion concert, which is slated for Dorval's Sarto Desnoyers Community Centre June 7 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Harmoni Music in Ste. Anne de Bellevue.

The Big City Band had a few brushes with greatness – they opened up for George Thorogood and the Destroyers one night at the Loyola campus of Concordia University -- but mostly settled for being a local band of some renown – and that's just fine with vocalist Acheson, who expects many members who spent time in the band before it broke up for good in the '80s to show up, such as drummers Mark Garside and Rick Millette, vocalist John Charron, guitar player Kelly Watling, bass player  Steve Fiset and female vocalists Francine Raymond and Denise Charron.

The band played about 50 per cent cover material – they were heavily influenced by The Allman Brothers and Aerosmith in terms of style, and as a songwriter, Acheson explained the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were a big influence on him and John Charron, who wrote most of the band's original material.

"We had a great time playing (in the band) – but by the end, I was the only original member left," said Acheson, who moved back to Quebec after retiring from his job in Europe.

One fan who will be in attendance that night is Dollard des Ormeaux resident Sue Tait, who fondly remembers taking in Big City Band shows back in the band's heyday.

"I remember seeing them play at The Maples, and at (The Mustache) by the old Montreal Forum. One of my girlfriends was dating one the band members," she said. Tait said she expects many old faces to come out the woodwork – after spreading to the four corners of the glove since the '80s – for the one-night-only reunion.

"There are a lot of people I'm looking forward to seeing. I am really looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends who scattered to all over the world. It's going to be great," she said.

Organizations: Maples Inn, Harmoni Music, Concordia University Mark Garside and Rick Millette The Allman Brothers Beatles Rolling Stones The Maples Montreal Forum

Geographic location: West Island, Dorval, Pointe Claire Ste Quebec Europe

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  • Johnny Maudlin
    June 05, 2014 - 20:45

    Those lucky enough to be local are going to hear some great songs delivered by the Mailboy Railway and his confederates. These folks could play then and they'll be just FINE at the reunion. Long live local music!

    • Mark Malone
      June 12, 2014 - 19:30

      Couldn't make the reunion show. Any Youtube footage? Mark Malone