Alf Carter will be performing with his band in Duncan. (Submitted)

Carter family continues tradition of making musical memories in Cowichan

On Saturday the Alf Carter Band, will be providing the entertainment at the Eagles Hall in Duncan.

Fifty years ago, Showboat 5 was knocking on the door of a success in the highly competitive music world.

Based in the Cowichan Valley, the band was headed by Alf Carter and included his sister, Karen and three other musicians.

In July of 1969, Showboat 5 was full of enthusiasm and ambition. They’d come off a two-week engagement at the Riviera Hotel, billed as Edmonton’s finest motor hotel at the time. Next up was an appearance at Klondike Days that would feature 28-year-old Karen as a “Red Hot Mama” during the Edmonton gig.

“This is a great achievement for our group and everybody is very excited,” Carter told the Cowichan Pictorial in an article from July 1969.

“We have been very successful on Vancouver Island and we are booked up every Saturday until November 1970. Perhaps that is an indication of our success.”

Those were heady days for the Carters and other members of the band who were hoping to land a recording contract.

The Showboat 5 eventually disbanded and life got in the way of music careers, with all the members pursuing other careers and raising families.

But the music lives on.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the Alf Carter Band, featuring Alf’s sisters Karen Lonsdale and Barbara Stewart, will be providing the entertainment at the 18th Annual Eastern Star Sunset Chapter #44 Variety Show at the Eagles Hall in Duncan.

It’s a major event for the Eastern Star and for the Carters who continue to enjoy the opportunities to perform their timeless favourites. The cabaret style show features music from the 1940s and ’50s.

“It’s music everyone can recognize,” suggests Carter.

The Carter family’s musical roots go deep in the Cowichan Valley. Wally and Kay Carter’s music store was a popular spot in Duncan for more than three decades. Carter’s Music was located on Kenneth Street in downtown Duncan for many years before moving to a location on the Trans Canada Highway.

Youngsters keen to learn their chords took lessons at Carter’s and the store sold all types of musical instruments to at least two generations of Cowichan Valley musicians.

It was only natural that Alf and his talented sisters would follow their parents into the music business. They were hitting all the right notes in the 1950s and ’60s when dance bands were immensely popular.

“Dance was a big deal,” recalls Carter. “There wasn’t anywhere on the Island on a Friday or Saturday night that there wasn’t a dance.”

Over the years the Carters did a lot of shows for clubs and other organizations including a New Year’s gig for the Rotary Club on the Princess Of Vancouver.

Saturday’s performance for the Eastern Star is a chance for fans of old-time favourite dance music to have a feast for the ears as well as enjoy a roast beef dinner while supporting a good cause.

For more information on the 18th Annual Variety Show, call 250-715-6568.


The Alf Carter Band, featuring Alf’s sisters Karen Lonsdale and Barbara Stewart, is performing in Duncan on Saturday. (Submitted)

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