THE ADVOCATE 453
VOL. 78 PART 3 MAY 2020
By R.C. Tino Bella*
“The Ballad of Bonnie Henry” by Phil Dwyer, C.M. (Phil Dwyer Music
Inc., 2020), sound recording available on SoundCloud: <soundcloud.com/
Reviewed by D. Michael Bain
Qualicum Beach lawyer Phil Dwyer recently penned a folksy ballad
inspired by the daily briefings of B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie
Henry. Shortly after one of his concerts at Qualicum Beach’s Old School
House Arts Centre, Dwyer, a longtime listener to CBC’s Radio Three,
thought up the lyrics and the following morning popped them online.
He had soon set the lyrics to music and gathered a trio to record the song
he had penned. Tina Jones from Gabriola Island plays banjo and sings;
Daniel Lapp from Pender Island plays fiddle; and Phil’s son, Ben Dwyer,
who lives in Toronto, plays acoustic bass. With such a traditional lineup it
is not surprising that what was penned a ballad commemorating Dr.
Henry’s stoicism during news briefings has a folksy Canadian lilt to it
(albeit via Ireland).
Set to a ¾ waltz time, the song seems somehow plaintive yet hopeful and
in these respects probably captures the overlying sentiments permeating
the province at the moment. Lapp’s fiddle improvisations punctuate Jones’s
clear vocal delivery nicely. The melody is simple and familiar and beautifully
mixed and mastered by Rick Salt at Mountainview Studio in Nanaimo.
We suspect that the recording was safely done in a socially distant manner
from multiple studios.
Folk music, of course, historically celebrates the folk heroes of the day,
and Bonnie Henry is certainly one of those. On a daily basis she is currently
telling British Columbia the grim news of the effect COVID-19 is having on