PuSh Blog

Sonic Elder: A Generation’s Playlist – Curatorial Statement by Theatre Conspiracy’s Tim Carlson

December 29, 2014

Chop Theatre, Sonic Elder, 2015 PuSh Festival.
Photo: Terumi Quibb

In the final few years of his life, I visited my father at an assisted living joint where I’d sometimes find him at an afternoon sing-along in the rec room. I cringed to think what might be on future playlists, where I’m a regular (I’m hoping against hope for Sonic Youth and Pavement over Journey and Asia), but I also wondered about the place of music in these peoples’ lives — they were youth when music was first sold as teen culture — and how they reflect on their experiences as an elder today.

For Club PuSh, Theatre Conspiracy commissioned The Chop Theatre to take up the Sonic Elder cause. Project leader Christie Watson has assembled a diverse cast of six musicians from the Lower Mainland and Nanaimo, mostly in their 70s, to play a set ranging from old R&B to early ‘60s rock and anti-war songs through to a contemporary tune, and tell the tales that sit alongside the soundtrack.

It’s a group with substantial collective history: band leader Henry Young was Nina Simone’s guitarist in the ‘60s; vocalist Joni Moore (“Canada’s Brenda Lee”) had a long career in bands from the ‘50s to ‘70s; Harry Walker was the lead singer with the popular Canadian band The High Fives; Carlos Joe Costa was a busy studio percussionist in San Francisco in the ’60s; bassist Ron Kozaka was a local rock show impresario in his high school days; and guitarist Billy Butler played with such UK ‘60s acts as Gulliver’s People and Eternal Triangle before moving to Vancouver to become a Juno and Emmy-winning producer and sound engineer.

The Chop Theatre was last at Club PuSh in 2012 with Best Play / Worst Play, and I’m excited to see where they’ll take the Sonic Elder concept theatrically. I’m also curious about what the band will put on their post-show party playlist (no Foreigner or Styx, I hope.)


Tim Carlson
Artistic Producer & Club PuSh Co-Curator
Theatre Conspiracy

Catch Sonic Elder on January 29, 8pm, at Club PuSh (Performance Works on Granville Island). Book tickets to Sonic Elder on your PuSh Pass, Youth Passport or buy single tickets online.


  1. I understand that Henry Young is no longer part of this production but still looking forward to it

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