A birthday chat with Bon Evans

This Friday, Jul. 20, Bon Evans participates in a Tribute to Gord Downie at the Ale House.
Submitted photo.

Bon Evans turns 33 today. While we were chatting this morning at his house in Bath, he takes a moment to silence his phone, as the Facebook birthday notifications are going off quite frequently within the first couple of minutes of my arrival.  

“I like to reply to them right away,” says Evans. “Everybody means something to me. Even someone random that comes out of the woodwork, I’ll still say thanks! They took time to say something to me.”

Bon Evans talks a lot about connections. The connections within the Kingston music scene. Connecting with friends. Connecting with family. He throws me off when he mentions “the band I’m playing with right now. It’s my dads.”

“It’s your dad’s band?” I asked.

“My dad and my step-dad. I love them. We get along great.”

“Oh, it’s plural!”

Over the course of our half-hour chat, Evans spends more time talking about musicians and people on the scene that he admires than he does talking about himself: The Glorious Sons, singers Solomon Woodland, Smitty, and Emily Fennell. His own band members (Dave Bull, plus the aforementioned fathers). Photographer Nick DeWolfe, promoter Dave Wreggitt, sound tech Trevor Johnson.

Evans was born and raised in Kingston, and started playing music at age 25.
“Someone gave me a guitar years ago as a present,” says Evans. “I was moving with this thing, keeping it for sentimental reasons mostly, but one day I decided to teach myself some chords.”

Songwriting came very naturally, and quickly.

“The first day I picked up the guitar, I started writing something,” he says. “And I still play that song live to this day.”

Outside of writing and performing, Evans stays involved in the musical community as a board member of Joe’s M.I.L.L., in particular helping with their social media channels. This Friday, he and his band will also be volunteering as part of the Gord Downie tribute show at The Ale House. The event is not a typical tribute concert, where all artists are expected to play their favourite Tragically Hip or Gord Downie songs.  

“We’ll do about eight originals, before getting to the cover songs,” explains Evans. “The show as a whole is a tribute to Gord, not just his music.”

The event will raise money for the Downie Wenjack Fund, Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research, plus local indigenous initiatives.

“The very first show I ever saw was The Tragically Hip in Ottawa,” says Evans. “I remember being up in the nosebleeds with binoculars that didn’t adjust. I was still kind of small so I’d have to look through one lens at a time. Even then, I could see Downie’s intensity. That raw passion sent shivers up my spine.”

Later this summer, Evans will be releasing a single, ‘Middle of the Night,’ with local producer Cory Ede. It’s a dancier song than one would expect from a singer-songwriter who is mostly known for playing acoustic guitar, with a definite summer vibe. On Saturday, Aug. 4, the Bon Evans Band will also appear at The Embassy.

Tickets for the Gord Downie Tribute show on Friday, Jul. 20 are $25. Doors open at 6 p.m. Also performing are Smitty, John Torres, Tracy Drinka, Tim Aylesworth, Jordy Jackson, Donna Lynn, Shannon Monk Payne, and more.

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