Old Black Rum is a band comprised of an eclectic group of musicians who also happen to be neighbors on the Saanich Peninsula. Celtic Bluegrass is the backstop with fiddle tunes, a’ cappella ballads and occasionally, vocalist Heather Collins is moved to Step Dancing. Bill Collins explains the band’s appeal this way; ”we look for songs that haven’t been heard in a while; mostly east coast Celtic or Bluegrass. The difference is we bring them forward with a modern flavor. More im…portantly we play with energy and passion as the music comes from our history–and our hearts.” Major band influences include Figgy Duff, Mary Black, Stan Rogers, The Volo Bogtrotters, De Dannan and Johnny Burke; “The Bard of Prescott Street.” Bill (guitar/mandolin/vocals) and wife; Heather (vocals/Bodhran/and occasional step dancer) hail from St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador.
They been on Vancouver Island almost two decades after a two year stint in Fiji where Bill worked as a marine geologist and jammed with the Fiji Five.
Heather Collins; has retired from teaching to a full time career as a gardener . She provides the vocals and back-beat on Bodhran. Heather lays claim to a most beautiful lilting voice and a deep well of lyrics collected from different genres reflecting her origins as well as influences acquired in travels around the world.
Denis Whightman; also a teacher, lays down haunting dream-like harmonies on penny whistle and harmonica. Denis; originally from Belfast, upon arrival on Vancouver Island years ago said “it felt like coming home.“ Denis paid his dues for a while in an (otherwise) all girls band before making the move to the “Getting Higher Choir which is an “off book” choir meaning all songs had to be memorized as they are not written down. “It was brutal” said Denis. “We learned new songs every week. If you missed a week there was no catching up, I missed two weeks.”
Peter Jones; on fiddle and mandolin, has been on the island for ages and is originally from Vancouver. Jones is semi-retired in child psychology (he still has a son at home). You may catch him in traffic, all over the island, making deliveries for his Jones’ Island Delivery business. Jones soaks up ephemeral harmonies originally from Ireland, steeped in the foggy hills of Appalachia then churned through the influences of Steve Earle and John Prine.
Steve Martin; on guitar and Bodhran, is the newest member of the band. Martin enjoys making music as a solace when away from his day job as a doctor in Saanich.