Garry Beattie jokes that he’s not leaving Cambridge Bay to become a “roadie” for Tom Cochrane.
For two nights last week, he got to act as Cochrane’s sound technician, at least.
When the iconic Canadian rocker put on a community concert on Feb. 10 and headlined the 20th Kitikmeot Trade Show on Feb. 11, Beattie had the hamlet’s Bose sound system all hooked up and ready to go. The logistics of travelling to the Arctic meant that Cochrane and accompanying musician Bill Bell only brought only their Takamine guitars, no other gear.
“It was a lot of fun for me… this is one I’ll remember for a long time, for sure,” Beattie said. “He’s such a pleasure to work with. He knows what he wants… it was really, truly a professional sitting, a jam almost.”
Beattie, a musician himself, has close to 45 years of experience working with acoustics and is periodically found hooking up sound systems for various events around town.
“My system ran good (last week), no troubles, no breakdowns. It was great,” he said “That’s always in a technician’s mind: I hope it goes good.”
Beattie also recorded both concerts. Cochrane asked him afterwards to mix it and send him the final product.
“And I thought, Holy catfish! I’m so looking forward to doing that. It’s a really neat thing,” said Beattie.
Fellow Cambridge Bay resident and Cochrane fan Derek Marshall was in the crowd to catch the acoustic performance and he was thoroughly impressed.
“It was very intimate. They rocked it, they did rock it,” Marshall said. “The sound was killer… they nailed Life is a Highway. It was their last song of the night. That was a really good song. It sounded awesome.”
Marshall is particularly fond of Cochrane’s earlier hits, recorded with band Red Rider, such as Lunatic Fringe and White Hot.
It wasn’t the first time Marshall heard the hit-maker from Lynn Lake, Man., sing live. He caught Cochrane as the opener for Van Halen at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver in the mid-1980s.
He never had a chance to speak with Cochrane back then, but he did in Cambridge Bay.
“He’s a very friendly guy… for being a music icon in Canada, you’d figure he’d have some type of ego, but none whatsoever,” Marshall said, adding that Cochrane’s management team were also very approachable. “Really good people, down to earth.”
A member of Cambridge Bay’s radio society, Marshall created a promo for the public concert to help get the word out. Even with the advertisement, the community hall wasn’t full on Feb. 10.
With such a young population in Cambridge Bay that has never heard of Cochrane, whose songs climbed the charts in the 1980s and ’90s, and with most elders having no interest in that sort of music, it left a relatively small demographic to draw from, Marshall reasoned.
Before Cochrane and his modest entourage left town, Beattie had an opportunity to show them something different: he introduced them his old tracked vehicle. Cochrane’s road manager went for a drive in it.
“It goes anywhere in the snow. It’s like a little tank,” said Beattie. “They’d never seen one. Tom was so excited. He took a hundred pictures of it.”