Bennetts’ Wet Paint Company

Bennetts’ Wet Paint Company

Three musical generations band together in James Bay

By Dave Harris & Marion Yas
Photo by Bob Murphy

The recently formed Bennetts’ Wet Paint Company brings together the diverse talents of three generations of local musicians. Ian Bennetts and twin brother Jonathan are British transplants with serious musical history. Back in the late 50s they were first to busk Skiffle music and Rock & Roll in Paris, around Europe, and in the Middle East. They recorded several singles for French Columbia Records and toured with Johnny Hallyday, the “French Elvis”, whom they helped get the British rock into his roll. Other old time compadres included folk stars Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Richard & Mimi Farina.

Photo by Rosalinde Compton

Photo by Rosalinde Compton

The Bennetts brothers, now in their 80s, have direct ties to the leaders of British Skiffle—their brother Les played with Lonnie Donegan, credited with reviving the African-American music genre popular in the early 20th century. In the early 50s Donegan introduced the fading tradition to the UK where Skiffle became a critical stepping stone to the…blues boom and British Invasion of the US popular music scene (Wikipedia).

We are thrilled to have such luminary talents here in Victoria! Jon has had to step back but Ian is very much on his game, and both tell fascinating stories of far-flung places and a musical time largely forgotten. Ian plays 12-string guitar and leads the vocals. Jon chimes in with a verse or two when health permits.

The Bennetts’ next generation showcases Sharon Wadsworth on washboard, kazoo and vocals. Sharon has deep roots in the local music scene, having co-led Victoria’s longest running Blues band, Elmore’s Bar & Grill, with her late husband John Fisher. Together these big-hearted leaders of the Victoria Blues scene organized R&B Festivals, ran jams, and mentored up-and-comers.

Fleshing out the second generation is lead instrumentalist Dave Harris on banjo, slide guitar, fiddle, harp, suitcase bass drum, and harmony vocals. Well-known to Victorians, Dave brings a 40-year music career to the group and has a vast knowledge of music and one-man bands (and is one himself, not surprisingly considering all the instruments he plays).

Representing the third Bennetts’ band generation is Peter Janz on second guitar, kazoo and harmony vocals. New to the Victoria music scene, Peter’s love of music and his great attitude mesh perfectly with the lively, infectious style of the group.

The four members of the band all live and play in James Bay. If you would like to experience Skiffle music up close, Bennetts’ will be at Cup of Joe Café on December 9 from 2-5 PM. The combination of music and chef/owner Shawn Edward’s fabulous dishes makes for a popular afternoon. Reservations are recommended (250-380-2563). The musical entertainment is by donation.

The group’s repertoire is largely based on Skiffle but also includes Blues, Folk, Country, and even Calypso. Much of the material is from widely known classics making it easy to sing along. Audience participation is encouraged!

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