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8.1: Reading- Finding Home in Fernie

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    Before You Read

    Watch a music video called The Bear by the band Shred Kelly. You can find it on YouTube at:



    What are your impressions of the music and the video? Write your thoughts in the space below.











    The Reading

    Jordan Vlasschaert is the bass guitarist with Shred Kelly. Read about Jordan’s move to B.C., his music, and his life in the mountains. Answer the questions that follow.

    1           The picturesque mountain town of Fernie, British Columbia, has a traditional background as a coal mining centre and a newer status as a ski resort. But for a five-person band known as Shred Kelly, it’s also the basis for making their music.

    2           “For a long time, we talked about Fernie like it was the sixth band member,” says bass guitarist Jordan Vlasschaert. “A lot of our songs are based on the town’s history, surroundings, and the lifestyle here.”

    3           It was that lifestyle that brought Jordan to Fernie and B.C. in the first place. After growing up in Ontario, he went to Halifax’s Dalhousie University for a Bachelor of Arts degree. “My original plan in high school was to become a teacher, but those early plans have a tendency to not come to fruition sometimes.”

    4           Instead, he moved to Fernie after graduating from university. “It was a total ski bum move. I did research on ski towns out west,” he says. Fernie appealed, with its rich history. “That was one of the things that really set it apart,” he explains. “There was a community with a history there before the skiing arrived. Historically, it’s a coal mining town.”

    5           His original plan was to go to Fernie for a year or two, work, and enjoy the skiing. But instead, “I met my friends in the band. Now it’s been a nine-year experiment in making music.”

    6           The nature of the town was essential in the formation of the band itself. “There’s a large community that arrives every winter, to work and to go skiing and snowboarding,” Jordan explains. This includes people from across Canada, Great Britain, Australia and elsewhere.  He was surprised by how many people were arriving.  “There were hundreds and hundreds of young people, all in the same boat,” he recalls. People meet each other, and discover similar interests outside skiing.

    7           One of Jordan’s interests was music.  "When I started going to the jam nights and I realized there was no one else playing bass, I traded in my oldest pair of skis and got a bass guitar," he says. During his second winter in town, he started jamming with some other musicians during an open mike night, and eventually, Shred Kelly was born. “It wasn’t something I ever planned on doing, but it was a real adventure,” he says. Along with Jordan, the band’s members are Tim Newton, Sage McBride, Ty West, and Ian Page-Shiner. And the name? It was inspired by the historical Australian outlaw Ned Kelly (a former band member is Australian) and the use of the term “shred,” which is skiing/snowboarding slang meaning “to ski/snowboard well.” The band starting combining their talents to produce what Jordan calls “high-energy folk rock.”

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Shred Kelly of Fernie, B.C. (Photo credit: Shred Kelly).

    8           Having played mostly locally since their founding in July 2009, the band started to gain momentum when they made an appearance at a music festival in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics. “It was the first time we had ever played on a large outdoor stage,” Jordan remembers. “It was a turning point, where we realized we could do this. We thought, let’s see how far we can take this.”


    9           The band toured exclusively in Canada at first, with what Jordan calls a “do-it-yourself mentality,” booking themselves into bars, and eventually getting into various music festivals. This led to meeting more music industry people across Canada, and eventually, to connecting with an agent. Jordan is quick to note that the band is grateful for Canadian government support, which helps them financially. Their persistence has paid off, with tours across Canada and in Europe. They also recently went to Australia for the first time, attending a showcase festival in Sydney.  “The more people you know and meet, the more exposure you get,” he says. The band has also attracted critical acclaim: they have won numerous awards, including a Western Canadian music award. Their album Sing to the Night, released in 2015, was named one of the “Top 15 Most Anticipated Albums of 2015” by CBC Music.

    10        Despite spending anywhere from three to six months a year on the road, Jordan is always happy to get back to Fernie, where he lives with his wife Katie, who drives a truck at one of the coal mines in the area.

    11        "It’s a beautiful little town, not just a cookie-cutter resort village," Jordan says of Fernie. “It has such amazing access to outdoor recreation. That, combined with the sheer beauty of the place, and the community itself. There’s such a wonderful group of people living here, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.” He does note, however, that despite being in Fernie for a decade and no longer being part of the transient culture, he still doesn’t consider himself a “local,” since, as he says, “I wasn’t born in the Fernie hospital!”

    12        Jordan notes that no matter how much time he spends making music, he still needs other income streams. He works as a support worker with at-risk children and teenagers and is currently doing an online master’s degree in counselling psychology. He is able to work with a larger team of support workers, who help cover for him when he’s touring.

    13        Jordan’s advice for younger people who want to follow their dreams, as he did, has two components. The first is to focus on the destination, not necessarily on a job. "If you know where you want to live, which is what I did, don't be too selective on what you're willing to do to live there. If the place is really important, be open to different opportunities."

    14        In terms of pursuing a musical career, he notes that there are seldom true overnight success stories in music, so persistence and hard work are key. He says, "From a musical perspective, find people who want to do the same thing and keep working. It won't happen overnight. You have to keep going and try to get to where you want." 

    15        And that’s certainly where Jordan Vlasschaert is—in Fernie, British Columbia!



    A.   Check Your Understanding

    Answer the following questions in your own words.

    1.     How did Jordan end up in Fernie?



    2.     What aspects of living in Fernie does Jordan find most attractive?



    3.     Have Shred Kelly been an overnight success? Explain your answer.



    4.     What else does Jordan do in addition to playing bass with Shred Kelly?



    5.     What do you learn about Jordan’s personal life?



    6.     What two pieces of advice does Jordan give to younger people in the same situation?

    a)     ________________________________________________________________________

    b)     ________________________________________________________________________


    B.   Develop Your Vocabulary

    Find a word or expression in the reading that means the following. Paragraph numbers are given to help you.

    1.      pretty (used with places) (para. 1)                 _________________________ (adjective)

    2.      work out as hoped (para. 3)                           _________________________ (verb)

    3.      become more popular (para. 8)                      _________________________ (verb)

    4.      only (para. 9)                                                  _________________________ (adverb)

    5.      continuing, not giving up (para. 9)                  _________________________ (noun)

    6.      awareness by others (para. 9)                       _________________________ (noun)

    7.      praise from the media (para. 9)                      _________________________ (noun)

    8.      the same as everything else (para. 11)          _________________________ (adjective)

    9.      moving from place to place (para. 11)           _________________________ (adjective)

    10.  picky (para. 13)                                               _________________________ (adjective)


    Choose five of the words above. Write a sentence of your own using each word.

    1.      ________________________________________________________________________

    2.      ________________________________________________________________________

    3.      ________________________________________________________________________

    4.      ________________________________________________________________________

    5.      ________________________________________________________________________


    C.   Think about It

    Think about the following questions. Write your thoughts.

    1.      Jordan says, “My original plan in high school was to become a teacher, but those early plans have a tendency to not come to fruition sometimes.” Is there a connection between Jordan’s statement and anything in your own life?




    2.      What can you infer about Jordan? What kind of person is he? Think of three or four adjectives to describe his personality.




    3.      Jordan says that he does not consider himself a local, since he was not born in the Fernie hospital. How do you know when you are a local? Do you need to have been born there? Do you need to have lived there for a long time?




    4.      If you want to become successful as a musician, what do you think is most important: talent, hard work, luck, knowing the right people, or something else?





    D.   Go Further

    Now in his 30s, Jordan is typical of the “millennial” generation, those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. People born at this time are also known as Generation Y. Typical characteristics of millennials are that they do not feel a need to follow traditional career paths, and they believe in a healthy work/life balance.

    Use the internet to find out more about millennials. Are you part of this generation? If so, do you think the description of millennials applies to you? Why, or why not? If not, how are millennials different from your own generation? Write your thoughts in the space below.



















    Share your findings with your class.

    8.1: Reading- Finding Home in Fernie is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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