A man who regularly plays music at local seniors homes and brightened the COVID era with his front-yard concerts has been named the Trail-Warfield Citizen of the Year.
Peter Makortoff said the news came as a “total shock.”
“My first words when Tom Hart from the Knights of Columbus came to the door a week and a half ago were ‘Wow and wow!'” he says. “It’s finally sinking in. I am so honoured and so proud of this award.”
Makortoff started playing music around the age of 20 with bands in Trail and Castlegar and kept it up until he was about 45. Then he took a 15-year hiatus to focus on family life.
But when he turned 60, his wife and two daughters arranged a birthday bash for him at the Trail Legion and invited a lot of his old bandmates, which rekindled his interest.
He played in a group called North of 60 but the band broke up for health reasons and he went solo in 2017. He sings and plays guitar, backed up by a computer that provides the rest of the band sound. He mainly features 1950s, ’60s, and 70s rock ‘n’ roll with a bit of pop and country thrown in.
For nearly 20 years, he’s been a regular at places like Columbia View Lodge and Rose Wood Village in Trail, Mountain Side Village in Fruitvale, and Castle Wood Village in Castlegar.
During the COVID years of 2020, 2021, and 2022 he also got approval from the City of Trail to hold outdoor concerts on his lawn.
“I live on Columbia Avenue on a dead end street, so my front yard was my stage,” he explains. “I did over those three summers 21 gigs from my front lawn and we had probably an average of 100 people each time I played, listening and dancing.
“That’s probably the most meaningful thing I’ve done for people during COVID because there was no live music at all and I was providing it for three years outdoors.”
Makortoff thinks his lawn concerts have run their course, because he is getting calls for indoor bookings again. While the outdoor shows were popular, they were subject to hot weather and bugs and had to be cancelled a few times due to either smoke or rain.
He says his wife is a critical part of his performances.
“Paula is my best fan, my supporter, my best push, my sound girl, my roadie, and we always do these gigs together. We’re a team.”
Makortoff will be honored at St. Michael’s School on May 9 at 7 p.m. as part of the start of Silver City Days. He’s not scheduled to perform at the ceremony, but he will be back at it the next day as he plays for seniors in the Cominco gym from 2 until 4.