Dan Hare plays the guitar in the backyard of his Cloverdale home. His band March Hare will be performing at Chalmers Park on Canada Day at 8 p.m. Grace Kennedy photo

March Hare will be performing at Chalmers Park on Canada Day, as they have for the past eight years

‘Every gig is like a family picnic,’ says bandleader Dan Hare

Don’t call March Hare a cover band — to lead singer and guitarist Dan Hare, it’s a “show band.”

“That’s usually a pejorative term. People don’t say cover band in a positive way,” he said.

“We wanted to broaden our view of music and broaden the music that we could play. So we started playing everything.”

Since forming in 1998, March Hare has been playing music as diverse as Garth Brooks and Rod Stewart to Lady Gaga and the Beatles. For Hare and band members Andy Smyth (keyboard), Ian Paxton (drums) and Georgia Swinton (vocals) it’s been an opportunity to continue to play music and make a living at it.

That was Hare’s goal when he decided to get out of his parents’ carpet business when he was 21 and head into the music world.

“The challenge is, you’ve got to take what you love and you’ve got to monetize it in some way,” he said. “Most musicians, I hate to say, aren’t very good at that.”

He had friends who drove in buses around North America, playing shows for a pittance and searching for their one big hit.

Hare went a different route, working with Smyth and playing at corporate events.

“Some musicians may see that as a sell-out. I just see it as adjusting to the marketplace,” he said.

In that marketplace, March Hare has proven itself a versatile show group, performing at a variety of concerts across North America. Now largely playing in casinos, the band also performs at community events — like the Canada Day celebration at North Delta’s Chalmers Park, which they’ve played for the last eight years.

That event, Hare said, is a perfect fit for March Hare.

“Every gig is like a family picnic,” he said. “Because you’ve got everyone there. You’ve got older people and younger people and different musical tastes. So our band fits that perfectly.”

March Hare will once again be participating in the 2017 Chalmers Canada Day celebration, hitting the stage for their family-oriented show at 8:30 p.m.

Although events like these help pay the bills, it’s not why the band plays music.

“I respect that music and I respect my audience,” Hare said. “For me, I want to help people relive those memories. You know the saying: songs are hooks to hang memories on.”

To do that, March Hare attempts to do a faithful rendition of each song, no matter how diverse.

“You’ve got to sing from the heart,” Hare said. “You see a lot of bands, and they’re just basically playing songs and they’re trying to get through the songs.”

“If you’re going to evoke memories and feelings and emotions in people, it’s here,” he said, holding his hand up to his heart.

“It’s more than just music. It’s how you feel about the music.

“It sounds a little campy, I guess, when you say it that way,” he added. “But that’s just the way I look at it.”