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Aldergrove gets the jammers out to play

Roger Potter's "acoustic open mike sessions" Aldergrove's Bob's Bar & Grill, 27083 Fraser Highway, every Thursday, starting at 7 p.m.
Roger Potter (centre) sits atop a drum as he accompanies guests at his weekly 'acoustic open mike' session at Bob's Steakhouse in Aldergrove.

Roger Potter has built up a loyal following with his "acoustic open mike sessions" over the past 15 years in the Fraser Valley.

As of January 12 Potter brings the sessions to Aldergrove's Bob's Bar & Grill, 27083 Fraser Highway, every Thursday evening, starting at 7 p.m.

"It's less intimidating for some people than a full electric band situation like at the blues and classic rock jam sessions," says Potter.

"Some players are more comfortable if they're in control and play it just the way they like it, as opposed to the different ways a band might play a song."

Potter has been a professional musician for almost 30 years now, starting in Nova Scotia and Ontario, where he fronted bands such as his Neil Young tribute act "Live Rust" and a duo with his former wife called "Take Two."

In 1996 he came to B.C., settling in Abbotsford, and he discovered a niche market for his one-man act, hosting acoustic open mike sessions at bars and restaurants. He still takes his Live Rust act on the road regularly, but the open mike sessions have grown to become the biggest part of his music career.

"For a while when I started out here in B.C. I was working a day job five days a week and playing six nights a week and getting about four hours sleep each night," said Potter.

"I've been able to build it up and make a living strictly as a musician these days. It's not a fortune but it's a steady income and I'm very grateful to be able to do that."

Currently he hosts the open mike sessions on Sundays in Abbotsford, Wednesdays at the Dewdney Inn and now Thursdays at Bob's Bar & Grill. He also performs with his band on weekends at various venues such as casinos.

He's developed a following of players and singers who turn up to take centre stage at the open mike sessions, performing everything from folk to country to classic rock songs.

Everyone gets to play and/or sing at least a couple of songs each night, whether they are amateurs doing a Karaoke-style version of "Me and Bobby McGee" or gifted players putting their distinctive stamp on a familiar old Beatles song.

Potter plays guitar, bass, mouth harp and drums, and will switch around to whatever instrument is needed for any song chosen by guest performers.

"Come for dinner, stay for the music," says Potter. "Join in or simply enjoy some great local entertainment."

Potter is sponsored by Long & McQuade and Darkwood Drums.