Brad Merritt remembers the night John Lennon got shot.
He and his newly formed rock band, 54-40, were playing in a motel basement in Coquitlam when the Beatle frontman was murdered.
It was a Monday night and they opened for Neil Osborne’s brother’s band.
“It was a pretty strange night, but we did it and it was great,” the bass guitarist said, recalling 54-40 performed two of Osborne’s original tunes in addition to covering The Subhumans’ “Slave to my Dick” and “Step-in’ Stone” by The Monkees.
Since then, the band — founded by Merritt, Osborne and drummer Ian Franey — has returned to the Tri-Cities several times to perform on much larger stages.
And, on Friday night, they’ll be on the Main Stage at Rocky Point Park in Port Moody for Canada Day as the headline act for the Golden Spike Days.
The festival is sponsored in part by the Tri-City News.
Their free show follows five gigs on Vancouver Island this month — rescheduled due to earlier Covid-19 restrictions — and it launches a summer tour that includes outdoor festival dates from Port Alberni to Peterborough, Ont.
Last week, Merritt told the Tri-City News the Port Moody crowd can expect “all the hits and some new music” from their album that’s due to come out later this year. Composing the new tunes started during the pandemic, he said, with the tracks recorded and mastered at Hipposonic Studios in Vancouver, as well as at Osborne’s and Dave Genn’s home studios.
As for their hits, 54-40 is best known for such singles as “Baby Ran” and “I Go Blind” (from their 1986 self-titled release) and “One Day in Your Life” and “One Gun” (from their third album Show Me).
Asked how Canada Day differs this year, given it’s been two years since large gatherings have been allowed due to the pandemic, Merritt said the stat holiday “is a promise we make to each other to get better.”
“I consider that when they talk about the United States and how to form a more perfect union…. In Canada, we try to make good on that and to make progress, so it kind of bugs me that the anti-vaxxers have appropriated our flag for their own reasons. Now, we don’t see much flag waving going on because people see it differently.”
“But I hope we can take a day to embrace our Canadian identity and celebrate the country.”
54-40 plays Rocky Point Park (2800-block of Murray Street) in Port Moody at around 8:30 p.m. Admission to the Golden Spike Days grounds is by donation. The show is presented by the City of Port Moody. Visit goldenspike.ca.
- • Neil Osborne, vocals and rhythm guitar
- • Dave Genn, lead guitar
- • Brad Merritt, bass
- • Matt Johnson, drums
- • David Osborne, organ, saxophone and harmonica