Bringing music to people is therapeutic, says performer
People taking a walk through downtown Sturgeon Falls this summer may have noticed a change in the ambiance. Since early June, Chris Osborne has become a staple on King Street with his big wireless speaker and drum set, playing jazz music for passersby. “It just makes me feel good to create a nice ambiance for the street, and if it puts a smile on somebody’s face that’s really great. And then, people have been really talking about it, and that’s perfect enough for me,” says Osborne, who is out there nearly every day.
The musician has an obvious love for music, but he has a particular affinity for Jazz which goes back to his childhood in Windsor. “I spent most of my life in Windsor. Especially in the late 80s and early 90s, Windsor and Detroit were very, very hopping. You didn’t need a passport in most of that time, so coming back and forth after you would enjoy playing live music […], you’d go have a late night at Mexicantown in Detroit or maybe go see a late night Jazz band until 4 am. That was great to grow up with that experience,” he recalls. The Jazz, Blues, R&B and Motown music scenes of Detroit were a big part of his early days as an artist. The fact that he’s playing jazz in Sturgeon Falls today is like bringing a little slice of home along with him.
Performing Jazz on local streets has also shown him a different side of people. In a community that seems like its main musical interest is Country, conversations with many pedestrians who have stopped to listen have left Osborne surprised. “The older you get, you start to think that younger people, or just people in general, only listen to one thing. Because of the response, and because of the interaction, I gladly stand corrected and think that people are much more involved with music and enjoy a buffet of different styles and music,” he says.
Music has not been Osborne’s primary career. He admits that for many artists, himself included, it takes a supplementary income to keep a roof over your head and to be able to afford to keep playing. However, what he’s learned from his other work serves him to this day, and he’s even been able to incorporate his music into it. Having worked in the health care and long-term care fields, Osborne has a unique set of skills that he now brings to care homes like the Au Château. “I was able to take the transferable experiences from that, and now work with seniors with music in long-term care. It was nice that I was able to amalgamate those experiences and music together, and now work to offer cognitive stimulating services in a musical way for seniors,” he explains, adding that he works with a unit for Alzheimer’s patients or patients with cognitive issues at the Au Château.
Osborne calls himself semi-retired, but he obviously keeps himself quite busy. With the job at the Au Château and the street performances in Sturgeon Falls, it’s impressive that he also finds the time to volunteer for the Beautification Committee in Sturgeon Falls, and at the Legion Hall. For roughly a year, he has been a regular performer at the Legion’s Sunday spaghetti suppers and “Jamming” events. “They offer a spaghetti dinner for like $8, with a dessert and coffee, garlic bread and all this kind of stuff. So, people are really happy that they get to go out and have a heck of a good time, and not feel like they had to drop a lot of cash, especially in these times,” he says of the event which he calls “quite lively.” Osborne says that they play from 1pm to 5pm and it’s quite the workout for the band, but what impresses him is the attendees. “I don’t know where these people get their energy,” he laughs.