Duo keeping the music alive

All you need is a guitar and an accordion and the two men behind those instruments to make volunteer magic happen.

Bill Bosnich, 82, and Allan Thorp, 87, have provided musical entertainment to people in care homes and at seniors' centres since 2003.

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It started with the lovely Diane Reynolds who loved to entertain and was instrumental in organizing those talented people at the Elder Citizen Recreation Centre in the early 2000s. Reynolds has since passed on but her musical legacy lives on.

The group Bosnich and Thorp were part of what was first called Lads and Lasses and then it became the Country Cuzzins.

Thorp remembers starting off by first visiting Bosnich in his home to get to know one another.

"I leaned my instruments up against the wall and we had coffee and talked all afternoon," Thorp laughed.

"We never played a song that day," Bosnich added with a smile. "We got so involved with our own conversation we never did get our instruments going. It was something else."

It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

Bosnich and Thorp play often at Laurier Manor, Parkside, Gateway, Birchview and Rainbow Lodge and make special guest appearances at River Bend and the Chateau, events like the Festival of Trees and if someone's got a birthday celebration, they'll entertain there as well.

Song styles include country and western, pop and seasonal selections.

"We like them all," said Bosnich, who was about 16 when he first picked up the guitar.

Thorp said he particularly likes Que Sera Sera and he said lots of seniors like The Happy Wanderer. That val-de-ri, val-de-rah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha gets them every time. The Chatanooga Shoe Shine Boy, I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover and I Want A Girl, get enthusiastic responses as well.

"Our audience likes the songs they can sing along with us," Bosnich said.

"They like the older songs because that's what the old people recognize," Thorp said, who began his musical ways by playing the button accordion when he was about eight years old.

Bosnich and Thorp have learned a lot about recall and memory by going into the care homes and seeing people who are not engaged or enthusiastic and as soon as the two start playing music fingers start waving and toes start tapping.

"If they know the song, people will start singing right along with us," Bosnich said.

And the odd one will even get up and dance, he added.

"I enjoy watching the expressions on the faces of the people we play for and some might even fall in love with us," Thorp deadpans with a humorous twinkle in his eye.

To keep things fresh Bosnich and Thorp will learn a new song every now and then and they'll practice at one or the other's home or at the Elder Citizens Recreation Centre to get it right.

It's all for the love of music each wants to share with those around them.

Bosnich said there's never been a serious word between he and Thorp and although they tease one another, the key to their longtime music making is that they're friends.

"We'll keep doing this as long as we can," Thorp and Bosnich agreed. "But those instruments and all our equipment keeps getting heavier and heavier."

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