While their drinking song “Home For A Rest” may well be Canada’s unofficial anthem, the party is coming to a bittersweet end for Spirit of the West.
The longstanding Vancouver folk band is currently wrapping up their farewell tour as two members suffer from devastating health conditions — frontman John Mann with early onset Alzheimer’s disease and drummer Vince Ditrich with full kidney failure.
Spirit of the West’s eclectic mixture of rock, pop, punk, and Celtic influences have made them a beloved fixture in the nation’s music scene for three and a half decades, with 13 albums to their credit (five gold and three platinum), as well as an induction into the Hall of Fame of the Western Canadian Music Association, a National Achievement Award from the Society of Composers, and a star in Vancouver’s Starwalk on Granville Street’s Theatre Row.
Ditrich was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2013. Mann was first diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2009 before being hit with Alzheimer’s in 2013. The condition has left the singer-songwriter using an iPad as a teleprompter while he performs because he has difficulty remembering lyrics.
The band, which also includes multi-instrumentalists Geoffrey Kelly, Hugh McMillan, Tobin Frank, and Matthew Harder, will play their final shows here in their hometown, bidding what will surely be a heartbreaking farewell with a three night stint at the Commodore Ballroom on April 14, 15, and 16. The concerts also promise surprise appearances by special guests.
Thanks for the music, Spirit of the West — the spirit will live on.
Spirit of the West
When: April 14-16, 2016
Where: Commodore Ballroom – 868 Granville Street
Tickets: Sold out