Few would have thought that 30 years later Jonas Falle would be returning to Maple Ridge to sing – and at The ACT no less next Thursday night.
The 42-year-old South Surrey resident has fond memories of growing up in Maple Ridge and more specifically of hanging out and later performing at the Alouette Arts, which at the time existed as an arts centre of sorts at Fern Crescent and 232nd Street.
Falle remembers going there almost every Saturday night as a youngster, watching his parents and their friends perform – his folks were part of the Dewdney Trunk Road Band in the day, which featured long-time Maple Ridge residents Pat and Gillian O’Rourke.
Fast forward a few years, and in his teens Falle began discovering his own passion and talent for music, and with his buddy Bobby Bruce (who has since gone on to do a Neil Diamond tribute called Nearly Neil) the duo formed their first rock band together, always debuting their new songs first at Alouette Arts.
“I loved performing there, being there. It always felt like home… it was always filled with music,” he told The TIMES. “Alouette Arts helped form me as an artist.”
Falle will be joined by three other music lovers – one of them his wife – when he returns to Maple Ridge next week to perform an ABBA tribute show on Sept. 27.
And although he’s travelled around the world and even performed for kings and queens, he admits he’s pretty psyched about performing in this community again.
That passion for music that was fostered at Alouette Arts never waned, and Falle explained how he made the leap from a guitarist and vocalist in a series of different bands – ranging from folk to heavy metal – to becoming the creator and producer of a band whose sole purpose is to embrace and celebrate the music of ABBA.
He actually blamed most of it on his high school buddy. He remembers receiving a telephone call out of the blue when he was 28. Bruce was looking for a guitarist to join his Nearly Neil show, and with the promise of steady work, Falle was in.
Fast forward a few more years, and again with Bruce’s help and connections, Falle and fellow Nearly Neil band member Jeanette O’Keeffe, broke off and started their ABBA tribute.
Falle described it as a renewed craze with people of all ages falling in love again with the music created by the Swedish pop, rock, and disco band from Stockholm who first burst onto the music scene in the early 1970s. Admittedly, the budding couple was among their fans, and little did they ever suspect that their affinity for this music would evolve into a full-time career.
“Now, as I’ve evolved as a person and as a musician, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for all genres of music,” Falle said. But he said ABBA’s music still touches his heart, and he’s grateful for where it’s taken him.
The group’s popularity has literally taken them to many corners of the world performing shows for the prime minister and royal family of Malaysia, the Buddhist Society, Tatler Magazine, and international shoe designer Jimmy Choo.
Some other performance highlights include four sold-out shows at the majestic Esplanade Theatre in Singapore, a live televised concert for 20,000 people at the Penang fair, countless high-profile events at the Shangri La and the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur, a run at the international showroom at the Genting Highlands, an opening spot for Kool & The Gang at Universal Studios in Orlando, and even touring Mexico.
Closer to home their shows have included the PNE and Harmony Arts Festival.
Still unsure of where they’re going next, Falle said the band is always on the move. They’ll be performing at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver on Oct. 13, and then a charity concert at the Potter’s Breast Cancer Fundraiser in Surrey on Oct. 18.
“It’s always changing. It’s always such a great party all the time, and we’re really grateful,” Falle said.
The same foursome has been putting the shows on for the past six of the 12 years. Falle, who takes on the persona of Bjorn Ulvaeus from ABBA, is joined by his wife (O’Keeffe) playing the role of Anna-Frid Lyngstad, along with Langley’s Ryan Langevin performing as Benny Anderson, and Vancouver’s Kylee Epp taking on the role of Agnetha Faltskog.
“We help audiences of all ages to relive and celebrate the timeless and uplifting music of ABBA,” Falle said. “This high-energy and captivating stage show keeps the music of ABBA alive in a fresh, classy, and respectful way.”
Tickets for next week’s show are $34.50 and available at 604-476-2787 or at www.theactmapleridge.org.
And for more information about Abra Cadabra, people can go online to www.ILoveABBA.com.
How to win:
A pair of tickets to see Abra Cadabra perform at The ACT
Two lucky TIMES readers will each wina pair of tickets to the Sept. 27ABBA tribute concert.
How do you win?
• Visit the TIMES website at: www.mrtimes.com, find “More Ways to Connect,” and click on “send us your letters, photos, video.”
• Fill in your name, email, and number.
• Then write a short note explaining why you want to attend this show. Please note your community, and include the keyword “ABBA” at the top of the note. Preference is given to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows residents.
Entries must be received prior to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25 and winners will be notified by telephone and/or email. Note: submitted comments could be used in future editions of the newspaper. No staff or family of the TIMES or Glacier Media are eligible. This contest is restricted to online participants, 19 years or older only.