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Doc Fingers brings a night of old-school piano to The Point

The artist-run centre holds its annual fundraiser for hippies and beyond


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It's 41-degrees Celsius and Doc Fingers is participating in this interview from the cooling comfort of a Palm Desert swimming pool.

He's in California, "two hours from L.A. and four hours from Las Vegas," because he has friends there. Talk to the man briefly and you soon discover that Doc has friends everywhere.

"Two musician friends bought houses down here and they are playing with everybody down here. There's all kinds of musicians... people who have logged in thousands of hours of studio time in Los Angeles, and they're all retiring and working here. There is an unbelievable amount of top musicians here," he says. "I can see getting a visa and coming down to play gigs down here."

And he's been doing what he normally does when surrounded by such talent, getting to a piano and belting out music.

His repertoire is basically anything that can be expressed by that instrument: boogie woogie, rock, ballads, jazz.

"I've been playing since I got here in clubs, just for fun. I've also just played 18 holes of golf," he says.

Living in Whistler off and on since 1976, Doc is the longstanding house musician for Umberto's.

"I was playing in Zermatt and St. Moritz, Switzerland, from 1989 to 2008. I'm the skiing piano player. Instead of Carnegie Hall, I went to the peaks," he says.

"At Umberto's it's five to seven days a week, during the high season is typically seven days a week. During the summer it's Wednesday to Saturday."

He says he doesn't need to advertise.

"People go to Umberto's for the experience to eat. I'm in the bar on the right-hand side and people know me."

They sure do. Doc knows so many musicians in every kitty-corner of the world that he can travel somewhere and draw on the talent there when he arrives.

"I've got an A team, a B team, a European team, a Vancouver team, a San Francisco team. It depends on who is available," Doc says.

Every year, Doc plays in Europe and has regularly performed during the Olympic Games, most recently in Sochi, Russia.

"I played for the International Olympic Committee, in their private members lounge. Sochi was wonderful. The Russians are kind of like kids with a new toy," he says.

Puzzled, I ask him if he means capitalism.

"Freedom! Their new toy is freedom. They are free now to make money and have free enterprise. It's alive in Russia, but they don't know how to do it. They get perplexed by it," he says. "The young people are right in there. They all have iPhones and iPads, they know about the outside world and they want to be a part of it."

Doc is about to start a slow drive home from Palm Desert, with stops for a few fun side gigs in San Francisco with friends visiting from Buffalo, in order to get back in time to perform at Boom! Whistler's Boomers and Echoes Recall the Bad Old Days.

The event is the annual fundraiser for The Point Artist-Run Centre. It takes place on Saturday, June 7, starting at 6:30 p.m. Along with the Doc Fingers Trio is Chinese cuisine inspired by the Alta Lake Inn, circa 1980.

Playing with Doc are drummer Radar and guitar player and singer-songwriter Brent Shindel.

"Brent and I have been playing together for many, many years. I've known Radar for about 30 years."

Does Radar have a last name?

"He does, but I don't know it," Doc laughs.

He adds mysteriously: "If you ever come to hear us play and you see Radar, you'll get it... they're perfect for The Point. They like Tom Petty and that kind of stuff."

The Point gig will see lots of rock 'n' roll and boogie-woogie.

"And hippy rock, because of the crowd," he says.

Organizer Stephen Vogler says Boom! will be The Point's major fundraising event of the year with money going to their children's camps program, workshops and festivals. After holding the fundraiser for three years at Creekbread in Creekside, they've decided to bring it home to The Point itself, located on Alta Lake.

"We wanted make it a special evening and have the whole thing be where people can have a nice time with dinner and entertainment. The lodge is the perfect place for that since that is where we operate," Vogler says.

"The tickets are selling but there are still some available."

He added that they are having a storytelling session, both with invited storytellers and an Open Mic session for people who have something to say.

"They have five minutes, and I thought we'd try to have people jog storytelling memories by working it around places, events and people. So if you have a story about (the now closed) Boot pub or the old Christiana Inn or squatting or characters... we want a celebration of the good and crazy stories that have gone on around this town with an old-school team."



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