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Guitarist returns home to qathet region for AC/DC tribute

Former resident Rob MacDougall plays role of legendary guitarist Angus Young
CLASSIC COVERS: Rob MacDougall will be returning to his hometown with his AC/DC tribute band, Rock or Bust, for a performance at Evergreen Theatre on May 21.

Named after the 2014 album of the same name, Rock or Bust is an AC/DC tribute band whose members will be playing at Evergreen Theatre on Saturday, May 21.

Returning to his birthplace, Rob MacDougall will be playing lead guitar for the group and looks forward to seeing familiar faces among the crowd.

MacDougall, who has been playing guitar for more than 40 years, started playing at a blues bar in the qathet region many years ago before moving to Vancouver and playing music across western Canada.

He returned to this area at one point for a job in forestry, but after the industry started to slow, he moved back to Vancouver, where he’s been for the past 18 years.

For those about to rock

Rock or Bust was born last year after MacDougall received a Facebook message from a musician asking if he liked AC/DC.

“I said, ‘well, yeah, that’s the music I was brought up on when I started learning guitar,’” explained MacDougall.

Group founder and lead vocalist Kim Kahl provided the PA system, lighting and most importantly, a place to practice.

When MacDougall started in the tribute band, he took on the role of Malcolm Young, Angus Young’s brother, playing rhythm guitar; their first show was in Chilliwack last summer.

After that show, MacDougall said the lead guitarist playing Angus had a fallout with the band and was fired. Kahl asked MacDougall to take over the lead guitar position. He obliged, and already had the guitars.

“So I started this new role now as Angus, and you know we do the whole gig, we do the whole dress-up thing,” said MacDougall. “I get the suit on and the shorts, and I really work hard to make it authentic.” 

Money talks

MacDougall said his guitars and equipment are expensive, and in a world where gigs pay $50 to $100 a piece, he’s only breaking even. He keeps going because of his passion for playing music.

“We have five guys who have been playing for 40 years or whatever,” he added. “We just don’t want to quit, and it’s a good gig.”

But, shortly after he settled into his new position, the rains that wreaked havoc on the province last year flooded the band’s practice space, where all of their equipment was stored. The PA system and guitar storage cabinets were damaged, but the drums and guitars were pulled out just in time, in knee-high water.

“You know, no one wanted to see it; it was heartbreaking,” said MacDougall. “We’re the people who don’t give up.”

Between the financial strain caused by the flood damage and COVID-19 restrictions, they had to put their gig plans on hold, until now. 

Let there be rock

The band’s tour begins here, where MacDougall was born, then it’s off to Campbell River, Courtenay, Chilliwack and other stops.

“Touring takes a lot of work and organization,” he said. “But in the end it’s all about having a good time.”

He hopes his first stop will have a packed house of friends and AC/DC lovers.

“I’ve always wanted to bring a show to Powell River, back to all my people.”

MacDougall said he remembers listening to AC/DC when he was a teenager.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re 70 years old or you’re 15 years old, there’s always an AC/DC fan out there to be found.”

Tickets for Rock or Bust are available at Powell River Recreation Complex beforehand or at the door on the day of the performance. The show starts at 8 pm. Doors open at 7 pm.

“If you love AC/DC, this is the closest thing you’re gonna get,” he said. “Come out, enjoy a rock concert, have fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a lot of people in town, so I’m looking forward to that.”