Who: Rob Funk
When: Every night this week
Where: Different pubs
Everyone wants to throw him a farewell party, but Rob Funk will have nothing to do with it.
Sure he bought a home in Nelson a year ago. Yes, he and his wife Sue and kitty cat Mandy are all set to move in for Dec. 1 — although Mandy doesn’t know yet.
But no, there will be no farewells.
He’s couch surfing for the first week of December, so he can keep all his scheduled gigs in Whistler. He’s in negotiations for playing a New Year’s Eve show and already has shows scheduled for the New Year.
And besides, as he puts it, he is only 764.4 kilometres away. He should know, he’s been driving the door-to-door distance for the past year while renovating his new home.
“It’s not farewell,” he assures. “Cause I’ll be back. I’m still going to take booked gigs throughout the winter.”
He’s scheduled to perform almost every day this week, with shows Nov. 22 and 26-29 at the Dubh Linn Gate Old Irish Pub, Nov. 24 at the Crystal Lounge and Nov. 25 with Kostaman at Buffalo Bill’s — making music just the way he likes it, something he has been doing ever since his parents put music in his heart and an instrument in his hand.
The Nova Scotia native first studied piano, then percussion and finally guitar. He moved to Whistler in 1996 to work as a ski instructor. Something about purple ski suits then blue and yellow — memories best left forgotten.
His first show was at the Brasserie, no, the Cinnamon Bear. More than a decade ago, it’s hard to remember or maybe there are just too many good times to remember. He’s played every bar, pub, patio and nightclub in Whistler.
“Black’s and the Dubh Linn Gate,” he said of his favourite show spots. “And anything Kostaman.”
Funk stepped out from his keyboard and guitar as Kostaman’s original and current drummer. The Whistler troupe is currently recording their second album and getting ready to tour.
Funk came to Whistler for the skiing and the mountains. He stayed for the skiing, mountains and the music. And now he is leaving, remembering a time when Whistler was a quieter town.
Nelson, famous for its music and small-town chill vibe, was the perfect fit. There’s also the skiing at neighbouring White Water and Red Mountain that won’t be too hard to take.
“Change,” he said of his decision to move. “A little slower lifestyle. Nelson is what Whistler was in the early ’90s, sort of. It’s nice and quiet there.”
Well except for the music, which Funk plans to keep up with, along with learning the tricks of the trade of renovating and flipping houses. (Anyone with any builder contacts in Nelson, contact Funk at email@example.com. He’s looking for work.)
Of course, what he will miss most about Whistler are his friends.
“Thanks for all the support and I appreciate the love,” he says, laughing at trying to sum up what he wants to say to his community. “I will miss everybody, but I will be back.”
So listen for his Johnny Cash covers, Funk’s favourites. Or maybe the Littlest Hobo.
My favourite, as I listen to Funk over a burger and Guinness at the Dubh Linn Gate last weekend, is Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul and Mary.
A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.
A little of Whistler’s magic will pack its way into the cardboard boxes Funk now stands amongst, but he’ll come back to play again — and the music community will be waiting in our little caves (the Gate, Black’s Pub, anywhere Kostaman resides) to once again celebrate the joy Funk’s music brings to Whistler.