The Okanagan music community is gathering in support of Cherryville-based steel guitar player Dave Bayer.
Diagnosed with a tumor in his colon five years ago, Bayer has been undergoing expensive alternative medical treatment andsays he has learned a lot and wishes to help others who face similar issues.
On Sunday, Vernon country artist Lee Dinwoodie and Shelley Gudeit, with Gudeit Brothers Logging in Lumby, are hosting a jam session with local musicians at the Lumby Curling Club to raise funds to help Bayer and his family relieve some of the financial pressure.
Bayer, a father of four who has also worked as a log scaler at Gudeit Brothers, Swan Lake Log Sort, Tolko and other mills, says the fundraiser is taking place at the perfect time for his family.
“I am appreciative of the Lumby and Cherryville communities for rallying behind this effort and for their financial support and encouragement so far,” he said.
Bayer’s first paying gig was back in 1969 when he played guitar with Fauquier’s Garnie McLean at the Burton Hall. That gig would continue for two years before Bayer switched to playing steel guitar after going to a Waylon Jennings concert in Vernon in 1973.
“(I) loved the sound of his steel guitar player Ralph Mooney, and ordered that same steel guitar called a ‘Sho-Bud’ the next day,” said Bayer, who uses his Sho-Bud as his back up steel guitar to this day.
Bayer has played for years with local musicians including Charlie Fisher, Randy Rouck, Van Kupser, Wayne Bellerose, Gerry Brunelle, Frank Galbraith, Ernie Driscoll as well as with members of The Young‘Uns, whom he joined for the Bud Country Talent Search at the Kelowna Community Theatre back in the ‘90s.
In 1983, he went on tour with Calgary artist Jessie Burns, opening for Don Williams. The tour took them to Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre, down to Washington, where they played in Yakima, Spokane, Seattle, and also to Portland and Eugene, Ore.
“Don was such a gem to work with,” said Bayer. “Some of the auditoriums were over 3,000 seats and half the shows were double shows due to sellout crowds.”
In 1988, Bayer started playing with country artist Lee Dinwoodie and his band.
Still together, they have performed around western Canada and abroad, including London, England for an equestrian event, Whitehorse five times, Michigan, and in 2014, for a wedding in Peru.
They have also opened for major country artists Terri Clark and Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers.
Most memorable for Bayer was a show opener for veteran country artist Ferlin Huskey, whom he grew up listening to.
Aside from playing with Dinwoodie, Bayer has opened up for country artists BJ Thomas, Gary Fjellgaard, Dick Damron, and has done a number of recording sessions for other Canadian artists. He has also recorded and produced more than 30 albums for others in his studio.
Other highlights include an invite to a Willie Nelson concert in Kamloops, where he was invited onto Nelson’s tour bus for a visit. Bayer also met the late John Denver, who was a guest at Mike Wiegele heli-ski resort in Blue River, where he and Dinwoodie played a gig.
Sunday’s fundraiser takes place upstairs at the Lumby Curling Club from 2 to 8 p.m. Dinwoodie, The Young’Uns and many others, including Charlie Fisher, will be on hand to perform. Those wishing to play, hear some amazing live music and donate to Bayer are all welcome.