It’s quickly become a quarantine tradition to make music – or bang pots and pans – at 7 p.m. each night to show appreciation for front-line health care workers.
But White Rock singer-songwriter Spike Sullivan has a new variation, following up on the live sets he used to present at the Dew Drop Inn in pre-pandemic times.
He’ll be offering three solo Facebook Live concerts this week; Thursday (April 16) at noon, Friday (April 17) at 7 p.m. and Sunday (April 19) at 5 p.m. (www.facebook.com/SpikeSullivanMusic).
And rather than put out a virtual tip jar, he’s suggesting that viewers make a donation to Peace Arch Hospital Foundation (www.pahfoundation.ca/donate-now/) instead.
“I think in times like these, it wouldn’t be right for me to accept money for myself,” he told Peace Arch News Tuesday.
“People are hard-pressed for money right now. I’ve personally been laid off from my serving-bartending job, but the government is helping me out. If people have some money to contribute at this time, it should be going to help our health care workers.”
Sullivan, 23, added he hopes what he’s doing can become a trend among local performers.
“I’ve seen a couple of other artists on Facebook and Instagram asking for similar donations – but I haven’t seen any local artists doing it. Over the next few weeks, as this situation goes on, I’d definitely like to help set something up and get a few more musicians involved.”
As for this week’s concerts, the personable Sullivan – whose guitar-accompanied music is best described as alternative acoustic, with some pop, hip-hop and classic rock influences in the mix – wants to keep them just as informal as his live sessions at the Dew Drop Inn.
“I’m going to do some originals and some covers, hang out, chat and talk about music,” he said. “I’m going to try to go for two hours for each show.”
Born Liam Sullivan in Brighton, England, he’s part of a clan that, for both business and family reasons, has divided its time between Canada and the UK.
“But I’ve spent more of my life in Canada, now than in the UK,” he said, while acknowledging his British accent has become fairly unshakable.
“Whenever I’ve started losing it, it seemed that girls weren’t so interested,” the Earl Marriott graduate admitted, with a laugh.
His first love, however, ahead of music and the arts, was the sport of rugby – not too surprising, since his father, Lee, was member of South Surrey-based Bayside Rugby Club’s first side.
“I came to Earl Marriott and did Grade 11 and 12 there, so that I could play rugby,” he said.
“That’s when I fell in love with White Rock and decided this was the place I wanted to be.”
The working name ‘Spike’ came out of his father’s joking suggestion – at the time Sullivan was born – that he should be named after British comedian Spike Milligan.
When he started looking at creating an online presence for his music, he discovered just how popular the name Liam has become.
“I was scrolling through page after page of Liam Sullivans,” he said. “I was faced with being another voice lost – and thought that maybe my parents should have named me Spike after all.”
Sullivan started playing guitar and writing songs when he was 14 – but says it took a long time for him to develop the courage to perform in public.
“I went to Vancouver Film School in 2018 for a screen-writing course and that’s where I rediscovered my love for music and writing lyrics,” he said.
“I was picking up my guitar as a way of procrastinating from getting my assignments done, and that’s when I started falling in love with music all over again. I’m basically self-taught as a guitarist, but now that I’m seriously involved in music I’ve been studying more theory and musical history.”
Over the past year – prior to the pandemic and physical distancing guidelines – he has been performing weekly live shows as a way of developing his performance skills and also becoming more connected to his community, he said.
“I had a bunch of songs I’d written that I’d shared with close family and friends and they’d all been encouraging me to get out there and do them.”
But at first, he said, he didn’t have the confidence in his songs – or his baritone vocal range for putting them over.
“Music can be something that is really, really close to you – such an intimate thing, that it’s hard to share,” he said.
“But one thing I learned from playing live is that no one – except maybe the odd person here or there you can’t be bothered about – wants you to fail. I’d say 99.9 per cent of people want you to succeed, and they’re not even aware when you’ve made what are – to you – pretty obvious mistakes. At first I’d get really bothered when something went wrong and they’d say, ‘Why did you stop?’ So now I just play on, no matter what.
“I still have a way to go to develop and grow my performing, but hopefully I’m getting better every time,” he said.