Chris Thornley sings during the 2015 Blues for the Bank benefit concert at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel. (Now-Leader file photo)

‘Blues for the Bank’ benefit concert feeds Surrey moms and babies

Chris Thornley and band tune up for annual fundraiser in Guildford

Retirement hasn’t given Chris Thornley the blues.

The musician/graphic artist has a jump in his step and a tune in his head as he helps plan Blues for the Bank, the annual benefit concert for Tiny Bundles, a Surrey Food Bank program that helps pregnant moms and families with babies.

This year’s gig returns to a ballroom at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 26, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 each at tickets.surrey.ca, or call 604-501-5566.

The fundraiser features dance music played by Agent C and Top Secret, a seven-piece band fronted by Thornley, on vocals and harmonica, and singer Angela Clarke.

Last spring, Thornley retired after selling his Thornley Creative branding and marketing business to the Cloverdale-based Studiothink agency. A “Hat’s Off to Chris” retirement party for Thornley, who is among Surrey Civic Treasures award winners, was held at Surrey Arts Centre last June.

Retirement is “a bit of transition” for Thornley, who has found time to practice guitar “most days,” complete “a few side projects” and also do some volunteering. He lives in White Rock with his wife, Cathy.

Blues for the Bank, one of Surrey’s longest-running benefit concerts, was launched in 2006 at Vancouver’s fabled Yale Hotel blues bar.

“We did the gig and we raised, I don’t know, a couple thousand dollars for the food bank, at the Yale, and we actually had to, like, post a bond with them – a cheque for $500 in case nobody showed up for the event,” Thornley recalled in an interview last year. “And the morning after our event I got a call from the Yale saying, ‘That was fantastic, can you do it again?’ And we’ve been doing it ever since. We went back to the Yale the second year, and that was pretty much it there. We tried a couple other places over the years, but we found a real home at the Sheraton in Guildford.”

• RELATED STORY: Chris Thornley’s urge to play historic blues bar led to annual benefit concert in Surrey, from January 2018.

These days the band Agent C and Top Secret, in addition to Thornley and Clarke, includes Jim DeKleer on violin, Jeff Garland on bass, Terry Gerrard on saxophone, Dave Gilbert on drums and Bill Kudenchuk on guitar. Special guests at the 2019 Blues for the Bank are Brian Linnet on sax and Bruce Hayne on keyboards.

“Every penny goes to the Surrey Food Bank,” Thornley emphasized. “We have some great sponsors and some very kind donors.”

For those who can’t make the party on Jan. 26, Thornley encourages donations to the food bank’s Tiny Bundles program online, at surreyfoodbank.org/donate. “You can tell them it’s for Blues for the Bank,” he added.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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