Three B.C. All Stars combine their music at GO Fest 

Jim Byrnes, Barney Bentall and John Mann bring blues, bluegrass and Celtic rock to Whistler

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ADAM P.W. SMITH - Beautiful music John Mann, Barney Bentall and Jim Byrnes (left to right) are performing at the GO Fest on Sunday, May 17.
  • Photo by Adam P.W. Smith
  • Beautiful music John Mann, Barney Bentall and Jim Byrnes (left to right) are performing at the GO Fest on Sunday, May 17.

When three British Columbian music legends join forces it's not out of the question to consider them a kind of supergroup.

Blues musician Jim Byrnes says that when he, pop and bluegrass singer-songwriter Barney Bentall and Spirit of the West Celtic rocker John Mann started touring a year ago, they were referred to at a concert in Eastern Canada as "The B.C. All Stars."

"We've been all over the place doing this, and each show has been better than the last. It has been so much fun — and I get to play rock 'n' roll guitar," he laughs.

"There is so much talent and many great all stars around out there, so for one night to be the B.C. All Stars is pretty exciting."

They each got a call out of the blue from Bentall's former manager Debbie Peters, who said the idea of the trio performing together had come up in a conversation and she had to explore the possibilities with them."Of course, I've known Barney and John for a long time. We thought it would be a tremendous idea," Byrnes says.

"And it's such a treat. I love it so much when we get together and play. This is one of the reasons I started to play music for a living, because it's fun.

"They come from different traditions and the diversity of the show is fantastic. When we all play together it becomes more than the sum of its parts."

Bentall, Byrnes and Mann perform at the Great Outdoors Festival (GO Fest) onstage in Whistler Village Square, on Sunday, May 17 at 8:15 p.m.

GO Fest takes place around the resort over the May long weekend.

The three musicians can draw from Spirit of the West, Bentall's band The Legendary Hearts, and Byrnes own music, for which he has won a Juno Award for Best Blues Album three times.

"Everyone brings their great songs to the table and we've got a dynamite band backing us up," Byrnes says. "There's a great chemistry among all the musicians on stage."

They work their different styles on stage by each playing solo pieces that they are known for and taking it from there.

"There we put our own licks into the other guy's tunes. It's grown over the shows we've done together because we know more about what to expect from each other," Byrnes says.

"When everyone gets rocking together it's pretty sweet."

He is also an actor, with appearances on Wiseguy and Highlander.

As a solo musician, he performs 150 dates a year in Europe and North America. His most recent album, St. Louis Times, recorded with musicians from his home town St. Louis, came out in 2014.

Bentall is probably best known for his 1990s-era band The Legendary Hearts, and in 2010 teamed up with Shari Ulrich to form The High Bar Gang, a bluegrass-style band.His most recent album, Flesh and Bone, came out in 2011.

Mann has performed with Spirit of the West since 1983. Also an actor, he has performed on stage and screen.

Last fall, Mann announced he has early -onset Alzheimer's Disease and was very open about the impact it has had on his life and career.

Bentall, Byrnes and Mann continued touring but have made adjustments to support Mann.

"John is a force of nature these days, when he gets started," Byrnes says.

"In repose he seems sometimes a bit frail, but when he's on stage he's energetic... he's doing really well. John has a tablet with lyrics in front of him, but, you know, a lot of guys do that."

As well, Spirit of the West is planning a retrospective tour this coming fall.

Bentall, Bynes and Mann are preceded on stage by Bentall's son, Dustin Bentall, and Kendel Carson at 7:30 p.m.

"Dustin and Kendel are great. People are going to see a show that they're not going to forget," Byrnes says.

When it comes to other GO Fest performances, April Wine headlines the festival on Friday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Victoria roots band Current Swell take the stage on Saturday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Monday, May 18, is a day for local musicians, with the Will Ross Band (2 p.m.), Dakota Pearl (3 p.m.) and Willa (4 p.m.) performing.

All shows are on stage in Village Square.



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