Local favourites Birtch and Onyette to perform at Mountain Market, Sept. 13

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
September 1st, 2012

Class act singer-songwriter Don Birtch will team up with the talented Cliff Onyette for two hours of top-notch—and free—entertainment at the Rossland Mountain Market on Thursday, Sept. 13, beginning at 3 p.m.

Birtch was born into a musical family in Vancouver and by 1965, at the tender age of 12, he was already performing with bands in the Chemainus area, drawing inspiration from Santana, The Allman Brothers, and Commander Cody.


He describes his music as a “distinctly recognizable blend” of swing, jazz, country, and blues.


Birtch ditched the Vancouver music scene in 1981, following his passion for acoustic guitar to folk festivals in the mountains of BC and Alberta. By 1993, he’d settled in the West Kootenay with his young family and has since played both solo and with bands such as Donnie B and the Hornets, Titus Kany, and Do-N-Notes.


Birtch is now well-known to Kootenay music lovers, a popular and respected favourite all over the region. Most recently he played at the BC Summer Games, Silver City Days, and several market festivals, prompting compliments from the Castlegar News who enthused about his “out of the ordinary…talent and virtuosity,” and “relaxed confidence” in his performance.


Onyette started life in the west, born in Calgary Alberta, but soon headed out to Prince Edward Island, following his father’s job in the Royal Canadian Air Force. His father, a military drummer, bought Onyette a guitar and soon the young boy was following Dad’s footsteps, playing both drums and guitar and joining a band at age 13.


He formed his own band when he was 15 and took the stage for high school dances, wowing his peers with pages taken from books of Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, and Patty Paige.


Onyette said his music mixes rock, folk, and bluegrass with a splash of jazz.


Onyette is better known in Canada’s north, having toured with San Jose West across the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and northern BC. Now he plays with Renegade and Dirt Wroe.


The combination of Birtch and Onyette is a recent phenomenon after a chance encounter, and now the pair are excited to present a “seasoned blend” of their combined talents, offering musical styles from classic rock to jazzy blues. True entertainers, they’re sure to hold the market crowd with covers of old favourites and their own refined originals.


But you’ll have to temper that excitement and wait a week. Next up, the Mountain Market on Thursday, Sept. 6, will feature the soothing and practiced tones of flautists Laura and Lois—yet another not-to-be-missed open air, market concert, 100 per cent free for the listening.


The concert by Birtch and Onyette is made possible by a grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance and the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture.

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