Opry back in Saanichton

Barney Bentall’s Grand Caribou Opry on stage Nov. 7

Kendel Carson and Dustin Bentall during last year’s Grand Caribou Opry performance in Saanichton.

When the Opry returns to Saanichton’s  Friendship Community Church, it will be something of a homecoming.

Leslie Gentile of Brentwood’s Music in the Bay, says the Grand Caribou Opry has been coming to Saanichton for eight of its nine years since it was started by musician Barney Bentall. It’s a blend of folksy fun and a set of roots, folk and rock music.

On Nov. 7, the Opry is back home, featuring Bentall, his son Dustin and a lineup of other performers like Ridley Bent, Kendel Carson, Matt Masters and the Gold Rush All Stars. Gentile added there’s always a special guest invited up on stage — last year it was Neil Osborne of  the Canadian band 54-40. Right now, this year’s guest performer is a bit of a secret.

“Barney has been doing the Opry since a show in Vancouver nine years ago,” she said. “In its second year, they were looking to bring it to the Island.”

Gentile said musician Leslie Alexander recommended it come to Saanichton and ever since, the shows have sold out.

This year will be no different, Gentile said, noting that as of Oct. 29 there were few tickets left. They may still be available at Breadstuffs Bakery and the Dollar Den in Brentwood Bay, Lyle’s Place in Victoria and online at www.brentwoodbay.info.

The intimate Saanichton shows attract people from up and down the Island, Gentile said, with many people coming back again and again.

“The show has taken on a life of its own,” she said.

Every Grand Caribou Opry is a fundraiser, Gentile said, and once again the Saanichton and Victoria shows will benefit the Sidney Lions Food Bank and the Mustard Seed. Over the eight years, Gentile said the shows have raised $65,000 for the food banks.

To help raise money, song sponsorships are sold to local businesses.

“Barney and Matt Masters write an intro to (sponsored) songs,” she explained. “The audience loves it  and the money goes directly to the food banks.”

Last year, the song Baby Lay Down was sponsored by Brentwood Bay Massage Therapy.

The Saanichton show gets started at 7 p.m., doors open at 6:30.

The Victoria show is Nov. 8 7 p.m. at the First Metropolitan United Church on Balmoral Road. For more information, call 250-652-1758.