On a screen in Bobcaygeon, Andy Wehrspann saw the stars of the Tragically Hip reveal themselves one last time, as he watched the band play its final show in Kingston.
Now Wehrspann is reliving that memory in his own way as he tours with Grace, 2, a Tragically Hip tribute band, performing the final show song-for-song on stages in Ontario.
“All of us are just a bunch of Tragically Hip fans,” said Wehrspann. “We wanted to put together an experience for people. We wanted to put on a concert and an experience that would help people best remember the band.”
Though Wehrspann didn’t watch the Kingston show live, he did catch two performances of the Tragically Hip’s final shows in Hamilton and at the Air Canada Centre. He watched the Kingston performance live while staying with family in Bobcaygeon.
The final Tragically Hip performance included songs from their newest album, and from past records. The setlist grouped songs together based on which album they were from.
“We wanted to focus on doing a full production, an experience as opposed to just a show, and the framework of the final concert seemed to be able to provide that,” said Wehrspann.
Grace, 2 includes Sandro Murah on drums, Carl DeBarros on bass, Michael McVeitch on rhythm guitar, Mike Marinuk on lead guitar, and Wehrspann on vocals.
“It started out small,” said Wehrspann. “We just wanted to keep the music going and kind of enjoy the music… we wanted to be the tribute band we would go see if we couldn’t see the Tragically Hip anymore.”
He said neither he nor his bandmates are imitating any member of the Tragically Hip, rather they are celebrating the music.
“We put the production together to celebrate the music and help everyone else celebrate the music and remember the Tragically Hip for how they impacted their lives,” said Wehrspann. “Instead of us trying to imitate, we’re just trying to have a shared experience and hopefully tap into other people’s memories of the band for whoever is there in the audience.”
The band has been playing together for two years, but they’ve been Hip fans much longer than that. For Wehrspann, the Hip’s music has been part of his life from childhood.
“I think like many people across Canada the Tragically Hip was the soundtrack to my growing up,” said Wehrspann. “All those experiences that you have when you’re growing up, there’s probably Tragically Hip music being played… there was just something that made the Tragically Hip a part of our lives.”
Though Wehrspann and The Hip are Canadian, it was in the US where Wehrspann lived out his fondest Hip memories.
While living in California, Wehrspann and some friends followed the Tragically Hip around for a tour from Vegas to Los Angeles.
“What was great about seeing them in the US was the venues were so small,” said Wehrspann. “Instead of the Air Canada Centre, you had this real intimate experience… Being able to see them in these small venues outside of Canada was probably one of my greatest experiences.”Grace, 2 will perform the final Tragically Hip concert on the stage in Collingwood at the Historic Gayety Theatre on Nov. 23. Tickets are available online here.