Powell River musical duo find intergenerational connection

Phil Williams and Ryan Schmeister perform at Cranberry Hall July 5

A chance meeting at Powell River Farmers’ Market five years ago led singer-songwriters Phil Williams, 75, and Ryan Schmeister, 20, to collaborate musically.

“I was performing at the market and afterwards a young man of about 15 or 16 approached me and asked if he could play with me,” said Williams. “I looked at him askance, but said, ‘okay.’ Then about two bars in, I said ‘wow.”

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Since then, the two have been performing together and both have released solo recordings. Although Williams grew up surrounded by music, he didn’t start songwriting and performing until he was in his 40s. Since that time he has produced two folk festivals on Savary Island, performed at Mission Folk Music Festival for the last 12 years and released one CD of his original music and cover songs entitled All That Matters.

Schmeister’s musical career started nine years ago. His first album, entitled Vorean, was released in 2017 and followup Tranquility came out last summer. When he is not making music, Schmeister is working to obtain a nursing degree at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo. Together the musicians perform their original material and cover tunes. Both say working together has been beneficial to them personally and professionally. 

“Musically speaking, the catalyst of meeting Ryan at a difficult time in my life was really important,” said Williams. “I was going through a hard time, recovering from cancer, so it was part of my rehabilitation.”

For Schmeister the experience has opened doors, he said.

“I didn’t really know that many people in the music scene,” he added. “Through Phil, I’ve met pretty much every musician in town.”

With five decades between them, music truly brings the duo together, according to Williams.

“Whenever we play together there’s a bit of a spark and something happens,” said Williams. “It’s really cool when the old and new generation meet. It’s sort of like a cold front and a warm front and then you have lightning.”

Phil Williams and Ryan Schmeister perform at Cranberry Community Hall on Friday, July 5. Tickets will be available at the door.

 
Copyright © Powell River Peak

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