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Stephen Brown: Bastion Band

The Bastion Jazz Band

Stephen Brown and the Bastion Band

GOOD NEWS! Stephen Brown and the Bastion Band at Ocean Island Backpackers Inn every Saturday night (since October 15, 2011). The Cafe is great small room and it suits the band very well. It is all ages and no cover.

Ocean Island Cafe
8:00 - 11:00 PM
791 Pandora Avenue
Victoria, BC

The band, a group of like minded, unamplified musicians, formed in 1982, perform traditional New Orleans jazz, roots country, blues, and R & B. Lyrical, bluesy, and unhurried, the Bastion Band treats fans to an evening of music rarely heard outside of the Crescent City. Featuring compositions of Jelly Roll Morton, WC Handy, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong, plus roots country, folk, blues, and rock music from the golden era, the Bastion Band carries on a tradition that's been alive for over one hundred years. We play every Saturday evening, 8 - 11 pm, at the Ocean Island Backpackers Inn, Victoria, BC. We are a six piece band (God willing and the creeks don't rise) but our lineup changes every week. Most weeks the band is: Stephen Brown - piano, guitar, and vocals (me, I am there very week) and Denny Box - drums (almost always, however he does wander to Salt Spring Island or play with his percussion ensemble), Eugene Dowling - tuba (when he is not going to or playing in the opera), Alf Sleigh - trombone (when he can make it from Vancouver), Aaron Watson - guitar, accordion, and saw (when he not playing another gig which is just about all of the time), and Alfons Fear - trumpet (when he is not wrapped up in his studies which is just about all of the time).

Music in Victoria, review of U/Victoria concert, January 14, 2012

"When it comes to jazz, I feel the same way that S.J. Perelman felt about medicine: I don't know much about it, but I know what I like.

Unfortunately, among the much that I don't know about is New Orleans-style traditional jazz, which must make me almost uniquely unqualified to review the second part of Saturday's recital, in which tubaist (is there really such a word?) Eugene Dowling celebrated his first half-century of playing one of music's ungainliest (in the purely physical sense) instruments.

Still, as far as I know, I was the only person clutching a notebook and pen in the hall on Saturday and so my opinions, uninformed as they are, will, faute de mieux, have to do...

After the interval Dowling was joined by (or, looked at another way, he joined) the Bastion Jazz Band for almost an hour of spirited and enjoyable music.

I was slightly disconcerted to realise that I was familiar with just over a third of the music they played - I'm really not that old. Nor, as noted above, am I really qualified to make more than a few general observations about their "set".

The first such is to remark that Dowling fit right in to the band - and I do know a little about playing in a band - and clearly feels completely at ease in their very different idiom. His bass lines were perfect and his soloing most impressive.

The band themselves, whom I had not heard before, are no slouches either. Their ensemble is marvelous and achieved with very few obvious signals, as one would expect from a group that has been together for almost three decades.

Highlights of the set included the transformation of the standard 3/4 of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" into a rousing 4/4 stomp, the a capella vocal chorusing of "This Little Light of Mine" and Aaron Watson's remarkable soloing on the saw in "Out in the Cold Again"; for once, it would actually be appropriate to refer to it as the "musical saw". And I cannot forbear to mention what looked rather like a Lurex Nehru jacket worn by Stephen Brown. Very "showbiz".

A most enjoyable celebration indeed."
Deryk Barker

The Ocean Island hotel is Tourism BC Approved and has received very good reviews:

"This colorful hostel boasts a fantastic staff and accommodations comparable to many hotels. Undoubtedly one of the finest urban hostels in Canada."
-Let's Go USA/Canada

"Ocean Island is more than a hostel, it's an experience — an experience akin to being kidnapped by 100 of your closest friends.... The large, exuberantly friendly place has ... spacious common areas.... Full of life and art ... both the young and the young at heart will feel right at home, and front desk staff go the extra mile to be helpful. If you're looking for plain ol' fun, staying at this super-colourful hostel is a good start."
-Lonely Planet, various editions 2001-2007

"...the lodging is clean, modern and welcoming throughout. There's also plenty of room to relax."
-Moon Handbooks Vancouver & Victoria 3rd Edition

"The backpacker grapevine is full of praise for this fun and friendly downtown hostel. Impeccably managed by a thought-of-everything owner ... cheap, clean and cheerful; loads of services; a great place to meet other travelers."
-Fodor's Vancouver & Victoria


On January 30, 2011, after 14 & 1/2 years of every Sunday, 6 - 9 PM, at the Blethering Place in Oak Bay, BC, the Bastion Jazz Band played its last night. It was a great party and a great run. A big thank to all of you who have come to hear the band and supported us over the years.

Audio ~ Go to the last entry on the Compositions page or click here:

"Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone"

"Close Up The Honky Tonks"

Taking It Easy at the Blethering Place

Take Two at the Blethering Place

Solo Piano & Guitar with Tuba

Stephen Brown & Eugene Dowling

Stephen Brown sings roots jazz, country, blues, folk, and rock, accompanying himself on the piano and guitar with Eugene Dowling - tuba.

Audio ~ Go to the last entry on the Compositions page or click here:

"The Cabbage Song"


"Bright Lights, Big City"

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