They govern and they groove.
North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma and District of North Vancouver Coun. Jordan Back hit the road for a mini-concert tour Saturday night, playing gigs for the staff and residents of North Shore care facilities hit by COVID-19.
They dubbed it the Social Distance Gratitude Tour.
“(We) decided that we were going to try to spread a little bit of joy and humour,” Ma said. “These workers have been under enormous stress for the duration of the outbreak but really the songs and what we were doing was or for every frontline worker.”
The two played covers of “I Can See Clearly Now,” “Lean on Me,” a parody version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and a parody of Take me Home, Country Roads” with lyrics Ma wrote to make the song specifically about North Vancouver.
Tour stops included Berkley Care Centre, Amica Edgemont Village, Lions Gate Hospital, Evergreen House, and the Lynn Valley Care Centre.
“Gradually, people started to come out onto the balconies and I think it was really well received. The staff were all taking photos and I think really appreciative of just something positive in a time that's been pretty challenging for everybody there,” Back said.
🎶 Councillor @JordanBack and I with our very own #COVID19BC song for #NorthVan, sung to a tune by John Denver -- just in time for #MothersDay.— Bowinn Ma (@BowinnMa) May 10, 2020
The bridge is dedicated to #FrontLineHeroes everywhere. ♥️♥️♥️ pic.twitter.com/lfAnJLmb9L
The highlight of the evening, according to both, was their stop outside Evergreen House. Staff had organized the residents outside for the show and persuaded Ma and Back to do one audience request – a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for a woman named Edna who was turning 98.
“All the staff and even some of the people that were just walking by stopped to listen and join in on ‘Happy Birthday,’ so that was pretty special,” Back said.
Ma said she doesn’t consider herself a musician but she enjoys writing parody lyrics and organizing people.
“The reality is I don't think anybody really believes that being serenaded by two politicians is on their bucket list but there you go,” she said.
Back, however - a lifelong musician - said he is a firm believer in the therapeutic power of song.
“Music, especially over the last few months, has really shown to provide social connection and comfort during a time of really isolation and uncertainty,” he said.
This is the second musical collaboration between the MLA and the council member. In 2019, Ma rewrote the Lyrics to the Beatles’ Hey Jude, to make the song about the B-Line bus proposal getting a rocky reception by West Vancouver.