The songs of the ’60s shine on 

Who: Baby Boomer Blues

Where: MY Place

When: March 7-8, 8 p.m.

Turn on the news or pick up the national paper. What do you see? A war with Iraq looming, missiles going off in North Korea, terrorist forces still breeding, still plotting.

But what else do you see? Millions of people marching peacefully. Three quarters of a million in Manhattan, walking in protest against a war with Iraq. In London, the city staged the biggest street parade in history. In Australia, women got nude to form a peace sign, and in Turkey thousands marched against U.S. troops moving in.

If you’re like me, you’re probably asking yourself: "What’s Goin’ On?" as so poignantly sung by Marvin Gaye back in the late ’60s. It’s a song written over 30 years ago that is still bearing relevance today, and there’s many more like it. Crowds of disenfranchised are chanting ’60s era Beatles’ songs like Come Together and Let It Be. Burt Bacharach’s song by Dionne Warwick, What the World Needs Now Is Love is resonating through the streets. The list is, as they say, endless.

So what is it about the songs of the ’60s that seems so timeless? The cast of Baby Boomer Blues have their theories. The seasoned performers are finding their concerts have become more than a tribute to the great tune smiths and melody makers of the ’60s. The ’60s song era has become testament to a time of turmoil.

"Our shows are not just a memory lane trip for the baby boomer generation, we’re getting people of all ages," said singer Andy Thoma. "The younger kids are finding the songs really quite thought-provoking and emotional in light of what’s going on in the word today."

Fellow cast-mate, Shari Ulrich agreed.

"If you think about it, history is, in a way, repeating itself. Back in the ’60s we had the Vietnam War raging on and peace rallies were everywhere," she said. "And today holds similar events, but there’s no music on the radio representing the masses. There’s nothing in the charts about politics or revolution. It all seems to be about escapism. So perhaps people are turning to the past for representation," she offered.

Ulrich is particularly close to the songs of the ’60s. She was a college student in the San Francisco Bay area during the Vietnam War and remembers it as a time of great unrest.

"All my peers were getting drafted, which meant possible death. It was very worrying. In our passionate youthful idealism, we never believed it was our business to be in Vietnam and we spent a lot of time protesting. I was horrified when four students at Kent State University were shot and killed at the hands of the national guard. It was so ironic because it was a protest for peace. So I left soon after and moved to Canada for safety, and have stayed ever since."

Keyboardist Jim Hodgkinson of the Baby Boomer Blues said music became the choice for a generation grasping for a way to express their feelings.

"I still remember the song San Francisco (Flowers In Your Hair) and I was completely in awe. I couldn’t believe songs like that existed, expressing the sentiments at the time. They offered social commentary representing a large part of the community and it brought many of us together as a unified force with a powerful voice," said Hodgkinson.

The cast and crew behind Baby Boomer Blues have chosen a set of songs to celebrate but also to inspire.

"The harmonies and the hooks behind most of these songs are so catchy, so simple but so intelligent and revolutionary. Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind is a prime example and we do it in the show," said Hodgkinson.

"Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry? Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind." — Bob Dylan

Baby Boomer Blues ironically started rehearsals the day of the September 11 terrorist attacks, giving the creators a whole different focus for the production.

"We wanted to bring an awareness through these songs to things that are happening now but also to things that were happening back then, so maybe we can make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes again," said Thoma.

The Baby Boomer Blues and their songs of the ’60s take at the MY Place auditorium this Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets are $29 for adults and $24 for students. Ph: 604-935-8418.

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