(From left to right) Matt Richardson, Tom Richardson, Lori Walker, Jason Burwash and Steve Battensby practice for their upcoming concert at the Sasquatch Inn. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Harrison Mills band holding contest to decide name

The local cover band will be announcing the winner at a concert on May 3

In Lori Walker’s Eagle Point home, members of a band slowly gather for their practice.

There’s Tom Richardson, vocalist and guitarist, coming over after a day of work at Abbotsford Nissan. His 23 year-old son, fellow guitar player Matt Richardson, arrives with him.

From across the street comes drummer Steve Battensby, and just behind him is bassist Jason Burwash. Walker, with a harmonica and guitar in hand, comes up the stairs with the band’s mascot, a furry, noisy cat named Dixie, behind her.

They are getting ready to practice covers of songs from the classic rock, blues, grunge, country and modern pop eras.

“We’re definitely well-versed in all the genres,” Matt Richardson said. “It’s not like one of us goes, ‘I’m not going to play that because I don’t like it.’

“We all appreciate it and we all have fun with it, even though it’s each other’s kind of stuff.”

The band will be performing their eclectic mix of tunes at the Sasquatch Inn for the pub’s Cinco de Mayo party on Friday, May 3.

But if you go to the Inn and ask who’s playing, no one will know the answer.

“We approached the Sasquatch because we wanted to play there,” Tom Richardson said, standing in the band’s practice room. “We really weren’t set on any kind of name, so we decided maybe they would like to run a contest.”

For the last month or so, the Sasquatch Inn has had a ballot box open for name submissions. In mid-April, Richardson counted about 40 submissions in the box, as well as another 40 on the pub’s Facebook page.

“There’s a lot of pretty cool names coming down, so we’re pretty excited about it,” Richardson said.

Some of the names on the Facebook page include things like Harrison Mills Mayhem,Steel Cowboys, Squatcher’s Rockers, Loco’s in the Mills, Harrison Hogs, Harriet and the Hendersons and, as often happens with online contests, Bandy McBand Face.

The band will be going through the names the week before the May 3 concert, and deciding what their new moniker will be. Then, for the first time, they’ll walk on stage as a named group of musicians.

It will also be the first time the band will play publicly all together.

The band-with-no-name first started in the fall of 2018. Tom Richardson lived in Harrison Mill’s River’s Reach subdivision, and jammed in his home with his two sons Matt and Josh (piano player and sixth member of the band). Soon, he gathered Walker, Battensby and Burwash together.

“I never thought I’d be playing again until they came banging on my door,” Battensby said. He had been a musician in his younger days, but hadn’t played in 12 years.

Burwash too had been a musician, taking on the grunge scene with original music. Walker had sung in church choirs and been a member of a Top 40 cover band in Vancouver during the 1980s.

“It’s cool because these guys have lots of different influences and lots of different experiences,” Burwash said.

The elder Richardson agreed.

“I think that’s why it seemed so magical when we first started, because everyone was kind of seasoned in their own way.”

Perhaps the band’s biggest asset, if you listen to the members, is its singers.

“It’s rare to get three good singers in one little band like this,” Battensby said.

It’s also rare to find such a collection of talent in one Harrison Mills subdivision.

“I’m blown away by finding this kind of talent here,” Walker said.

“There’s a lot of mutual respect,” she added. “I respect these guys so much for what they do and what they contribute and what nice guys they are.”

“And Lori’s okay with us farting around here and stuff,” Burwash added, to the laughter of the group.

SEE ALSO: Harrison Festival releases 2019 line up

The connection between the musicians is what they feel makes their music special. And their connection to the community is what they hope to bring to their performances in the future.

“We want this to be Agassiz, Harrison’s band,” Tom Richardson said. “We want it to be clear that we live here, this is our town.

“We’re wanting to get out and play in Chilliwack and Harrison and some of the outlying areas. Pretty close,” he added. “We don’t want to be travelling too far. But we want to be this area’s band.”

After all, he added “it’s not about the money. It’s just to go out and have some fun.”

Battensby agreed.

“We’re too old to get rich and famous,” he said.

“I think it’s everyone’s love of actually playing and performing I think is what drives us more than anything else,” Burwash added.

And on May 3, Harrison Mills, Agassiz and the rest of their community will know exactly what name the band will finally be performing under.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Tom Richardson’s second son. His name is actually Josh Richardson. Richarson also lives in River’s Reach, not in Eagle Point. Both of these errors have been corrected and we deeply regret the error.



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

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Singer and guitarist Tom Richardson belting it out during practice. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

(Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

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