Music has a way of transporting the listener through time and space. And as 92-year-old Charlie Young listens to an old recording, he all but abandons a conversation with a reporter, in favour of his fond memories.
His eyes focus on nothing but the past — as ghosts of the Big Band era produce a beautiful, jazz-infused symphony.
He’s not just listening to the music, he’s reliving it. The lifelong musician is no longer in his small apartment at Chilliwack’s Hampton House, but back in the recording studio — sax in hand, and about to hit all the right notes for an improvised finale.
“I keep my fingers crossed, because I know what’s coming at the end,” he says, remembering the moment with clarity.
Sure enough, as the music comes to a unfaltering saxophone crescendo, Young clenches his fists and leans even further toward his CD player. His eyes are wide, bright, and smiling along with the rest of him.
“You kinda get a nice feeling,” he says as the song ends, telling himself: “You did that.”
Young still plays everyday, and music has remained at the forefront of his life. That’s hardly a surprise for those who know Charlie Young, the saxophone player. For almost thirty years, Young was an integral part of the Jones Boyz, playing the Copper Room six nights a week.
“When we first started, you could only fit 17 or 18 people in the place,” he said. His first day there was November 17, 1956, about a year after his wife Mary starting playing the piano there.
Mary has since passed away, but the two shared “64 years of beautiful marriage,” starting way back in Glasgow.
In Harrison Hot Springs, and beyond, the Youngs are best known for their time in the Copper Room. That room has history, and those who come regularly expect a certain standard. The beauty and elegance of the dance floor, the hot pools outside providing a steady ambience, glowing green and steamy in the dark night. And the music. Standards that everyone knows and loves, and an amiable group of musicians providing the entertainment.
But this week, long-time Jones Boys Steve Perry and Read Smith will be retiring. Filling their shoes will be Trevor McDonald and Ernie Britton, joining Ian Putz and Jimm Taylor.
In Young’s apartment, the elder musician wishes his younger counterpart well, and reminds him of the significance of the band.
“Remember, the people who come to the Copper Room are a certain class of people,” Young tells McDonald, and have come to expect the best.
But he has no doubt that this new incarnation of the Jones Boyz will continue to make beautiful music together.
“You have all of this all in front of you,” he said.
The first night of the new Jones Boys is Tuesday, February 21. Hours vary throughout the week, with live music and dancing from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays, and 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays. A dress code is adhered to at the Copper Room.