For coffee drinkers that frequent lelem Cafe – just off the banks of the Fraser River in Fort Langley – Mike and Oskar may be recognizable fixtures that hang out on a nearby bench.
Michael William Burmeister bills himself as “The Ramblin’ Gump,” a folk singing harmonica player that roams around Langley with his two loves – Oskar the dog and a talent for live music.
“For years, I didn’t believe I had a musical bone in my body… but then one day the lord told me to get a harmonica,” Burmeister said.
The penny whistle is his latest instrument of choice, though he said people including himself found it to be too shrill at first. All of the tunes that flow out of Burmeister’s whistle are original, and most importantly, free.
“My personal policy is to try and not put that hat down. I’m getting as much out of it as anybody listening to it. So I don’t busk much anymore because it’s nicer to give than receive.”
Then there’s Oskar, Burmeister’s furry friend that lays right down at his feet.
“My faithful companion. That dog is my manager,” Burmeister joked.
Oskar, a Spaniel Poodle cross – otherwise known as a “Spoonful” – was given to his owner as Christmas present four years ago.
On occasion, he even becomes part of Burmeister’s performance by adding a yip or a howl to the music. “The dog likes it. He barks and snarls when he wants to.”
The pair start out at lelum Cafe every morning, playing music on one of the benches across from the entrance. Next, they usually make it out to the Uplands dog park in Brookswood where the concert continues.
“If nothing else, it helps with meditation and is a pleasant way to spend hour in the morning,” Burmeister said. “It’s a good excuse to get out.”
Though “The Ramblin’ Gump’s” music is strictly live, Burmeister said the next step for him will be recording.
He has been seen occasionally – without his canine partner – performing in live venues like the NY’s Indian Grill’s BC Songwriter Showcase.
This Thursday, June 20, he can be seen at the House of James bookstore in Abbotsford at their monthly open mic night.
Burmeister describes his act as “a unique blend of msuic, humor, and truth.”
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