In February of 2018, After Hours applied to sing in this years Toronto Buskerfest. After several emails enquiring as to the status of our application, we were only one month out and noticed while other acts were now on the website, we were not and therefore assumed we weren't accepted. Glenn made arrangements to see his mom in Winnipeg and the rest of us just assumed we'd have the labour day weekend off.
Literally the day AFTER Glenn bought his ticket, Buskerfest got back to us and said they'd love to have us. Glenn, being the intelligent gentlemen he is, suggested we ask John Davis to replace him, just as he replaced Jon this past June when we sang at the Oakville Sidewalk Sale.
John was able to juggle a few things around and made himself available for the Friday and Saturday, which was good enough for the people at Buskerfest.
And then something interesting happened. Out of nowhere, I got a message from Luke Hobbs saying he was in town and wanted to come to a rehearsal to see the guys and do some singing! For those of you new to After Hours or didn't know us back in 2011 and 2012, the old After Hours line up used to be, Yee Kuang, John, Luke and myself!
And what you may also not know, was our name was synonymous with Buskerfest and that was one of our biggest gigs for those two years.
So John suggested if Luke was in town, perhaps we should also ask him to sing at Buskerfest with us, which we did and he agreed. So, six years later, the old line up of After Hours was going to be back at Buskerfest but also, adding our bass Jonathan Pong to the roster. So now not only we were going to back to the old Buskerfest line up of 2011 and 2012 with John and Luke there, now we were going back to singing as a quintet, something we hadn't really done much of since we ceased being a quintet in 2008!
Even though six years had past, in our first of only two rehearsals together, as Buskerfest didn't give us much warning, I was blown away by how my mind just switched tracks as if no time had passed and it seemed the same with John and Luke. Our old hits like "I'm Yours", "Hey There Delilah" and "What Goes Around Comes Around" we're right there on the tip of our tongues and sounded pretty much exactly like they used to.
Luke joined After Hours in 2009 and he made a lot of history when he did. He was the first "outsider" to ever join our group, he was not an immediate friend to anyone in the group; After Hours had always been somewhat of a clique leading up to that, with four of the five of us at that time being friends from high school. He also joined at the tender age of 20 (when the rest of us were in our 30's) making him the youngest member ever to join the group. And then mere months after he joined, we became a quartet from a quintet, which was the first time in After Hours history. And it was because of Luke's voice and knowledge of arranging that allowed us to do that and he sang with us from 2009 until the end of 2012 before departing for Japan.
Founding member George Scott left in late 2010 and his big shoes needed filling. At first he was replaced with a guy named Miguel Hubert who had a great voice but unfortunately in a conversation with me, he told me he found doo-wop "boring" and only wanted to sing Mariah Carey covers. So you could say, he wasn't a great fit. Miguel had answered an ad that we had posted online. John Davis also answered that ad... on the day we gave the spot to Miguel. But after six weeks with Miguel we reached out to John to ask him to come audition. John came to the audition sick but he still nailed it and won us over with his English charm and amazing accent.
Luke and John had great chemistry together and made After Hours young again. Yee Kuang and I pushed the two of them to the forefront of the group and let them lead pretty much everything while we provided bass and bari back-up. The team of Davis and Hobbs was truly magical and was a line-up I really loved for the two short years we were together.
Fast forward six years to August 2018 and just like that, just like old times, we pulled in big crowds in the scorching heat at Toronto Buskerfest, this time along with our bass Jon.
These are the moments I live for, to cheat time, to go back and relive something you think will never happen again. It was truly an honour to be on stage with these guys again; John who's married with a daughter now, Luke who spent the last few years travelling the world, opening Uncle Tetsu Cheesecake stores and of course Yee Kuang and Jon who keep the After Hours wheels turning... Yee Kuang celebrates his 20th year in After Hours next year!
It seemed such a fitting way to close the chapter on Toronto Buskerfest, to have the old group that started singing at Buskerfest back together one last time there. But while we say good-bye to Buskerfest, I know we aren't saying good-bye to John and Luke. We hope to sing with them again very soon and as such important figures in the history of After Hours, our door will always be open to them.