The musical group Three’s Company now call themselves Five’s Company or Seven’s Company — depending on how many of their members show up to play.
They get together, volunteering their time to sing and play at four local seniors’ facilities.
They entertain at a different one each Wednesday of every month.
Trevor Ling moved to Summerland twelve years ago and met up with pianist Joan Gilliard.
“We got chatting one time and she said she played at local seniors’ places. I told her I had done that in Ontario so she said I ought to join her,” explained Ling.
“We played together for a year and then we met Joan Hiele. She liked to sing and we asked her to join us, so then we had three. It was Three’s Company then.”
Ling himself had started playing the banjo at the age of 11. As an adult he played in the Toronto Banjo Band for 10 years.
“I always like the sound of the banjo,” he said. “They say you can’t play a sad song on the banjo, it has to be a happy song.”
As for Hiele, she said, “I love to sing. I’ve been singing since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I grew up in Newfoundland and music is one of the biggest things in our lives. When I was invited to join I felt like it was something I wanted to do.”
Eventually others joined the trio.
Jim Gillis plays guitar and sings.
Ian Macdougall was asked to fill in for one week and liked it so much he joined.
“I’ve been playing violin for 70 years. It’s always been a number one hobby for me,” he said. “For me I’ll play anywhere, anytime and almost anything.”
Al Kuppe also plays violin with the group and has been doing so for five years.
Ann Saunders said she was playing the ukulele on a tour bus when she met these people at a dance club.
“They said, why don’t you bring your ukulele and join our little band,” and so she did.
Earlier this year, Gilliard, who initiated the group, retired.
Since she left, Chris Barron has been playing the piano and is now the newest member of the band.
The group has some help with transporting their equipment and setting up each week.
“The spouses are the groupies and the porters,” said Saunders.
“They are the critics as well,” added Ling.
The band uses four different binders, with 80 songs in each.
They use a different binder every month as they make their rounds to each facility.
This way the residents hear different tunes all the time.
“We play for an hour,” Ling said. “We don’t get through the whole book so sometimes we start in the middle the next time around.”
Occasionally the band will try out a new song, but they never rehearse.
“We tell the audience, this is the first time we’ve played this together, so you’ll have to cut us a bit of slack,” explained Ling.
Speaking about the residents that they entertain each week, Saunders said,
“They’re all just so happy to hear any kind of music from their era that they can sing along to and enjoy.”
Hiele thinks that they, who are singing and playing, get more out of it than those who are listening.
“It makes you feel good. You know that you are making them feel joyful,” she said.
“Many of them can’t remember what they had for lunch but they can remember a song they learned at their mother’s lap.”
“They always say music is food for the soul,” said Saunders.
Marj Plitt of Angus Place confirms this statement.
“It’s great to have them here because it lifts our spirits,” she said.
Looking towards retirement Hiele mused,
“I’m hoping that down the road if I find myself in a facility like this, somebody will come and sing to me.”
For now Seven’s Company intends to continue to entertain. Speaking for the group Macdougall said,
“They enjoy it and we enjoy playing. We’ll keep playing for as long as we’re wanted.”
If you know a positive story about someone in our community, contact Carla McLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Summerland Review newsroom at 250-494-5406.