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Coffee with: Shining star

By Maria Spitale-Leisk - South Delta Leader
Published: July 20, 2012 12:00 PM

Sporting a bright yellow golf shirt, Dave McIlroy is a walking advertisement for the Tsawwassen Sun Festival. His duds also compliment the upbeat disposition of the festival's artistic director. 

A lifelong musician, McIlroy recalls his seventh grade North Burnaby garage band jamming to grand funk, grinning through that wave of nostalgia. Then there was some touring after high school with another band, until McIlroy arrived at his mid-twenties and found another love, his future wife, who inspired him to find a better-paying vocation that would support a family.  

Telecommunications turned out to be McIlroy's other calling.  "I recognized in '96 that the Internet was going to change everything," says McIlroy, who is interrupted by his BlackBerry incessantly buzzing at his side.   

In the early days of the information superhighway he pondered how live events could be broadcast to mobile phone users. Today he can show us exactly how.


McIlroy developed a software program called mediaManager, which is used mainly by professional sports clients who profit through advertising revenue from broadcasting their live events online.   

Of course, McIlroy still moonlights as a musician. The drummer for Delta88—a well-known R&B band around town—talks about harmonious friendships.   

Naturally, his three children can also carry a tune. His youngest son Tyson is the principal guitarist for The Simpson Brothers—founded by Tsawwassen twins Rob and Rich Simpson. The alternative band recently won first place and a cool $10,000 in Shore Radio 104's Best of BC contest.   

McIlroy is amazed at the Internet's ability to thrust budding musicians into the online spotlight.   

"Everyone can be their own broadcast media company," he says an enthusiastically. "Musicians have the ability to control everything from creation right down to distribution. You can be your own record company."   

McIlroy needed an instrument to start more arts and culture opportunities in Delta. So, he joined the Tsawwsassen Business Association, and is now its president. An image of a smart phone and the phrase "TBA is connected" on the association's visually-appealing, user-friendly homepage signifies he is at the helm. As expected, there is also a link to Arts and Culture Initiatives in the community.

Going into his sophomore year as the man in charge of musical acts for the annual Tsawwassen Sun Festival, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, McIlroy is jazzed about music being incorporated throughout the August long weekend event.   

Traditionally, music was only showcased on a main stage on the last day of the festival. That is until McIlroy was given the artistic director reins. The Tsawwassen Arts Centre, Winskill Park and Earthwise Garden are among seven venues that will feature live performances over the four days.   

He's crafted an eclectic musical lineup teaming with homegrown talent, and aimed at pleasing all—teenagers, young adults, families and seniors. McIlroy has also arranged what he calls a "special anniversary gift concert" for the Sunday night: The Left, a Vancouver recording act inspired by music greats like the Beatles and Coldplay.   

There will be a Mentor of the Arts award presented on that evening. Legendary local blues man Jerry Doucette is a past recipient.   

"It's a real contributor to the arts community," says McIlroy, of those who receive the honour.   

It would appear McIlroy himself is deserving of such recognition.   

For more information on the Tsawwassen Sun Festival running Aug. 3 - 6 visit online at