By Steve Hubrecht 

[email protected] 

A few years back anyone wandering around the Wilder neighbourhood on a sunny Tuesday evening — heading down to the Station Pub for instance, or coming back home from Kinsmen Beach — was in for a cheerful surprise.

Stand at just the right spot, near the intersection of 17th Street and 8th Avenue, and you couldn’t miss the melodious sounds of brass and wind instruments. 

The sounds tended to make first-time listeners stop in their tracks, checking to see what set of speakers the notes are coming from. Was it a stereo in a car passing by? A booming home sound system? 

The realization came slowly for some, quickly for others — this wasn’t a recording at all and there are no speakers, no sound system. It was live music by an actual community concert band — trumpets, tubas, trombones, clarinets, flutes and more. Invariably at that point, the listener would break into a broad grin.

The group playing those tunes was the Second WindS band (yes, the band spells its name with a capital S at the beginning and another capital S at the end). If you haven’t heard them in Wilder lately, that’s because they’ve moved their practice location from the deck of Ian and Sherry Dewey (who live on the northeast corner of 17th Street and 8th Avenue) to the basement of the local Catholic church. But they are still playing and, in fact, they are looking for new members.

Second WindS tuba player John van de Walle has been with the band since its second practice back in 2004 and has enjoyed every minute of it.

“What I find is that when you’re playing solo, it gets boring after a while. There’s no other people to play with, or to help you grow as a musician. But a band gives you that,” van de Walle told the Pioneer.

The band was started by Malcolm Hughes and Marilyn Peterson. Dave Lymburner was the original band conductor, but left that role years ago when he moved away from the Columbia Valley.

“We’ve been without a conductor ever since,” said van de Walle. He elaborated that, in the absence of a conductor, the band usually decides things by consensus, and that trumpet player Sally Lawson takes a leadership role.

Linda Arnold is the band’s bass clarinet player and one of its newest members. She moved to the valley five years ago and saw a post on Facebook calling for new band members.

“I hadn’t played my bass clarinet in 40 years, since high school,” Arnold told the Pioneer. Still, she took a chance, joined the group and has had a great time ever since.

“I love it . . . I was surprised at just how much I remembered,” said Arnold. “Everyone in the band has been so welcoming and it’s been a great place to make social connections.”

Most of the band members are retirees, although there are a few younger adults too. Many of the older band members have stories similar to Arnold’s, deciding to pick up instruments again after decades of not playing.

“That’s why it’s called Second WindS,” said van de Walle. “For most of us, it’s our second go at playing in a band.”

Second WindS has 12 full-time members: three trumpet players, two trombones, one euphonium, one bass clarinet, three clarinets, one flute and one French horn. 

There are a few other occasional band members, including one who plays tenor sax, but for the most part that’s it.

Arnold outlined that this isn’t quite enough.

“For the most part we are struggling with membership . . . it limits the concerts and performances we’d like to do,” she said.

Second WindS plays mostly Grade 1 and Grade 2 level music, nothing too difficult, explained van de Walle. “It’s fun. That’s the main thing, we’re having fun. It’s not let’s play this bar (of music) over and over until it’s perfect. No. It’s let’s blast through this bar, have fun doing it, and see where it takes us.”

Arnold added “it is a pretty broad range of music across several genres and from different time periods. There’s waltzes, marches, a Beatles tune, Broadway hits and a best-of-Western combo. It’s quite a mix.”

The group plays shows throughout the spring at Home Hardware’s Garden Centre, at Columbia House, Columbia Garden Village, Ivy House, Mount Nelson Place, and at Pynelogs Cultural Centre on Canada Day.

“If you have an instrument, don’t be afraid to pull it out and come play,” said Arnold.

The band has a $25 membership fee to help cover costs.

Those interested in learning more or in joining can reach out to Arnold at [email protected].