Skip to content

Grant Lawrence returns with tales, Said the Whale and a bagpiping NSR volunteer

Off the back of his best-selling 2022 book Return to Solitude, Lawrence will be back at West Vancouver's Kay Meek Arts Centre for a night of songs and storytelling
Ashleigh Ball of Hey Ocean!, Stephanie Cadman of Bowfire, Jay Malinowski of Bedouin Soundclash, Kathryn Calder of The New Pornographers and Grant Lawrence perform at Victoria Events Centre in May 2022.| Erica Chan

Like many performing artists, Grant Lawrence is making up for time lost during the pandemic years.

Last year, that meant putting on a show at the Kay Meek Arts Centre in his hometown of West Vancouver, where he shared stories rooted in the local soil – like his dad’s cows taking a dip in Burrard Inlet – mixed in with songs from some of his very talented musical friends.

The sold-out show was such a hit that the theatre invited him back this year for another performance. On May 26, Lawrence returns to Kay Meek, accompanied by Vancouver-based band Said the Whale, Ashleigh Ball of Hey Ocean! and Docs’n’Socs Pipe Band, the North Shore’s premier bagpipe ensemble.

Also joining the musical lineup is lesser-known singer-songwriter Hayden Roth. Lawrence said he discovered the young musician at a hotel happy hour in Tofino.

“[His parents] were at my show the night before and they said, “Come down and check out our son Hayden playing.’ I went down and I thought he was really great and he’s from West Van, so I invited him onto the show,” Lawrence explained.

Readers of this newspaper may recognize the name Allan McMordie, search manager with North Shore Rescue. Others living in Lynn Valley might recognize the sound of his bagpipe, which filled the area near Poets Corner for 100 days straight to celebrate health-care workers at the onset of the pandemic.

“He’s an amazing bagpiper, and he’s my neighbour in Desolation Sound as well,” Lawrence said. “So everything’s connected and interwoven to the North Shore and North Shore life and the people that make it colourful.”

This year, the CBC broadcaster and author will be digging deeper into his archive of West Van stories, which include a Dundarave fishing derby gone wrong. “I ended up getting kicked out,” Lawrence said.

The storyteller’s ability to weave compelling non-fiction narratives is evidenced by his 2022 book Return to Solitude: More Desolation Sound Adventures with the Cougar Lady, Russell the Hermit, the Spaghetti Bandit and Others, which was last year’s bestselling book in B.C.

“There was a ton of support for it on the North Shore, which was amazing,” Lawrence said, adding that he’s grateful to be joined onstage again by friends like Said the Whale, who played at the launch of his first book.

Lawrence got the idea for a show that mixes music and storytelling from CBC Radio program The Vinyl Café, hosted by the late Stuart McClean.

“He did a touring show where he would tell a story, and then introduce a musician who would come out play a song, then he would come back and tell another story,” Lawrence said. “It goes back and forth ... I love that format.”

“Stuart McLean was a friend of mine and a mentor to me, when I was first becoming an author,” he continued. “And I just thought maybe I can do a West Coast version of that show, because I admired it so much.”

Grant Lawrence and Friends

When: Friday, May 26, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Where: Kay Meek Arts Centre, 1700 Mathers Ave., West Vancouver

Tickets: $29-49, available on the Kay Meek website

[email protected]