‘Cypress Creek Duo,’ Willoughby’s Natalia and Allan Cusworth, seen here at the Langley pioneer lunch on Saturday, Nov. 19, have been performing for seniors for 14 years. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

‘Cypress Creek Duo,’ Willoughby’s Natalia and Allan Cusworth, seen here at the Langley pioneer lunch on Saturday, Nov. 19, have been performing for seniors for 14 years. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

LIVING 60+ HOLIDAY SPECIAL

Senior musicians perform for fellow seniors

‘That’s the kind of music they like, and that’s the kind of music we like’

As Allan Cusworth tears into “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, he sings with a weathered bass-baritone that bears an uncanny resemblance to the genuine article.

“I fell into a burning ring of fire,” Cusworth and his wife Natalia sing.

“I went down, down, down. And the flames went higher.”

Their audience, mostly seniors, is delighted, tapping their feet and even singing along.

“They remember those songs,” Natalia shares.

“They like old country music and they’re tapping their toes and some are dancing, it’s great.”

As November was drawing to a close, the pair was preparing for the Christmas season, when the duo will wear holiday colours of red and green at their performances and Natalia will decorate the stage with (artificial) poinsettias.

“We have a lot of Christmas songs [in our repertoire],” Allan says. “We can also do a gospel set.”

The Willoughby couple has been entertaining seniors as the Cypress Creek Duo for about 14 years now, Natalia tells the Langley Advance Times.

“We do the old-time rock and roll, country music stuff like Johnny Cash, Elvis, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, and Anne Murray,” she said.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Langley seniors serenaded with classic tunes

When the two first met back east, Allan and Natalia discovered they had a shared love of music and performing.

“I always loved to sing,” she recalled.

“I was in a couple plays, just high school stuff.”

Allan was an accomplished guitar player, but not a professional.

While they ended up in careers that didn’t involve music, they kept performing.

‘Cypress Creek Duo,’ Willoughby’s Natalia and Allan Cusworth, seen here at the Langley pioneer lunch on Saturday, Nov. 19, have been performing for seniors for 14 years. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

‘Cypress Creek Duo,’ Willoughby’s Natalia and Allan Cusworth, seen here at the Langley pioneer lunch on Saturday, Nov. 19, have been performing for seniors for 14 years. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

They started in Cobourg, Ont., where they played for many years with local musicians in three country bands at countless dances and parties.

A relocation to another Ontario town was a temporary interruption in their playing.

But when they moved again, out to B.C. in 1994, they joined a square dance group, and that was when they ended up back in front of microphones — the result of some their fellow dancers discovering they were musicians and forming another band.

When the band broke up a few years later, it was because one of the members retired, they explained.

Allan and Natalia opted to continue as a duo, adopting the name Cypress Creek Duo.

He said the name was inspired by memories of a band they used to dance to, and a moment of inspiration.

“Before we started doing this, we went to a lot of dances, and we knew a band that was named ‘False Creek,’ that we liked, and then we were out driving and we saw a sign that said, ‘Cypress’ and we went, ‘Cypress Creek!’ Allan explained.

READ ALSO: Music therapy ‘a godsend’ for isolated B.C. seniors during pandemic

They use digital technology to fill out their sound, with the help of Nelson Camara of NC Audio Productions in Mississauga.

Allan and Natalia say it helps to be roughly the same age as the people they perform for, in seniors residences and at special events like the recent pioneer lunch for seniors in Langley (Natalia laughingly refuses to say exactly how old the parents of two and grandparents of four are — only that they are “over 65.”).

“That’s the kind of music they like, and that’s the kind of music we like,” Allan said.

“When we go out and play, we know that that’s what they grew up to,” he added.

For some, the music takes them back to significant moments in their life.

We’ve had people come up to us [after a concert] with tears in their eyes and tell us, ‘that’s how I met my husband, was [the song] ‘Blueberry Hill,’” Allan recalled.

Allan said it is a two-way street, because when an audience really gets into the music, its a boost for them as performers.

“When they’re having fun, we get better,” he summarized.

Cypress Creek Duo is online at www.cypresscreekduo.com.


Have a story tip? Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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