For many career musicians, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was a make or break.
With no place to perform and physical distancing restricted, some musicians decided to hang up their guitar picks and drum sticks for good to seek steadier employment.
Not Blue Moon Marquee.
The forced time off for the Gypsy Blues band made up of Al Cardinal and Jasmine Colette proved to be “extremely productive,” she said.
“We have been doing a lot of writing, as well as other creative projects like building a huge garden of veggies, fruits, berries, herbs and medicinal plants,” Colette told the Tri-City News last week. “Al has designed and built four vintage motorcycles.”
The pair also constructed a studio at their home — an undisclosed island in the Salish Sea — for Colette to work on her textile art and paint, and they learned how to fundraise without hitting the road: On their website, they set up a tab for “tips” to support the band, with links for donors to send money via e-transfers and PayPal.
Over the past 19 months of the pandemic, the duo also earned their keep by playing at virtual events such as the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the ColdSnap Festival in Prince George.
And recently, with the health orders lifting, Blue Moon Marquee was allowed to play 10 dates in Alberta and the interior of B.C., as well as Tofino and on Pender Island.
Speaking from Heiltsuk Nation territory, near Bella Bella, where they taped a show at the Canned Salmon Festival last weekend, Colette said that Blue Moon Marquee will showcase some of its new material when they hit the Coquitlam stage next week.
Their hour-long shows, at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 16, come after their previously booked performances at Evergreen Cultural Centre were cancelled.
The duo was nominated for a 2021 Western Canadian Music Award for Blues Artist of the Year, and Cardinal was nominated in the Indigenous Songwriter of the Year category at the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards, for their 2019 album Bare Knuckles & Brawn (Cardinal is of Cree/Métis descent). That album followed Gypsy Blues, Lonesome Ghosts and Stainless Steal Heart.
Both self-taught musicians, Cardinal and Colette met as teenagers in Alberta while in rock and punk bands.
“We have both always loved the music,” said Colette, who handles the rhythm section, “but spending time in New York City and Montreal, and being exposed to excellent players performing the music, was very inspiring.”
• For tickets to see Blue Moon Marquee at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam), call the box office at 604-927-6555 or visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca.