Culp and local musicians keep busy during COVID-19

GRAND RIVER: A local entertainer is keeping busy with a number of performances and events at Strait area venues.

Bill Culp’s “Johnny Cash Kitchen Party,” “The Cape Tones,” a trivia night, and a program on a local television station are all in the works.

“It seems that places are getting a little busier, people are getting out a little more,” Culp told The Reporter. “The clouds have hopefully lifted, not just in terms of restrictions, but people’s attitudes towards this. People are feeling a little more confident to go out.”

Culp said the Johnny Cash show has been running since September and has received a “great response,” selling-out many venues.

“We’re doing a lot of dinner and show, type of things and we’re doing some venues that are show-only,” Culp said.

He called the “The Cape Tones” a “party band” which plays rock music from the 1950’s, to the 1980’s.

“We play all the favourite, fun, party-type music that people want to hear,” he said.

On Sunday, February 14 at 6 p.m. “The Johnny Cash Kitchen Party” will host a Valentine’s Day dinner and show at the Carriage House in Port Hawkesbury. The show cast includes musicians Vince Burke, Rocky Boudreau, Rob Smith, and Bill Culp.

The kitchen party will also be coming to the Waterfront Community Centre in Whycocomagh on Saturday, May 15.

Then on Saturday February 27 at 7:30 p.m. “The Cape Tones” will host a “Winterlude” event at the Bras d’Or Lakes Inn in St. Peter’s. The cast for this show includes Debra Froese, Bill Culp, Vince Burke, Rocky Boudreau, and Rob Smith.

Culp will then host a special trivia night on Wednesday, March 3 at 6 p.m. that will also include a “Name That Tune” event, also at the Bras d’Or Lakes Inn.

“I think it’s good for the venues, and I think it’s also good for the people who get to go out and experience life like it used to be,” Culp told The Reporter. “

Culp expects that in March, a monthly music show called “Bill Culp’s Roots Round-Up” will premiere on Telile: Isle Madame Community Television in Arichat, and broadcast on Bell Satellite TV channel 536 across Canada. The show will feature a different special guest every month, as well as interviews, and music trivia, in addition to live performances by house band, “The Cape Tones.”

A half-hour Johnny Cash program on Telile last fall received a good response, which grew into a regular show, Culp said.

“It’ll be a great opportunity for the band to get some exposure but for us to also work with and expose some other great artists around the island,” he stated.

Although he has a full plate, Culp said the past year has not been easy, with some show cancellations in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

“I’ve had a few setbacks with COVID, where we booked shows and then we either had to move the days, or hold off on certain things,” he said.

Describing himself as a globe-trotting musician, vocalist, performer with performances around the globe – including Australia, Europe, the USA, Canada, and even the Arctic Circle – Culp moved to Richmond County in 2019.

In his career, Culp said he has worked with many notable Canadian performers including Garth Hudson from The Band, as well as Cleave Anderson from Blue Rodeo and Teenage Head.

“There’s guys that I work with on regular basis like Vince Burke, Rob Smith and Rocky Boudreau; these are guys that I just met at local jam nights and boy, they’ve really been great to work with,” he said of the local musicians in his shows.

Culp said he has had songs played on radio stations across Canada including “Riverside” with Garth Hudson and Jack deKeyzer, and “Merry Christmas (Wherever You Are) with Marie Bottrell.

In addition to music, Culp has done voice-over work on movies like Marvels’ The Avenger, Iron Man 2 and Bride of Chucky.

Culp co-starred in the CBC documentary “Almost, Almost Famous” which is still in rotation on the CBC Documentary channel, and available on DVD. He also starred as Bill Haley in the “Rock Around the Clock” musical in Germany, and as Carl Perkins in the official Sun Records touring show “Good Rockin’ Tonight.”

Culp said he is currently writing a book called “One for the Money, Two for the Show” in conjunction with the Cape Breton Partnership, due out this spring.

“I am seriously hoping that things are going to get better and that things will continue to open up more and more,” he added. “It’s certainly to my benefit for that to happen, but more than that, I’d like to see it happen for the people of the island because I think we’ve done a great job of being diligent.”