Vancouver Island artist WiL brought his signature blend of roots and rock to the Clarke Foundation Theatre inn Mission on Wednesday night. WiL was scheduled to open for Burton Cummings

WiL a hit on a night with a big miss

Opening act on Burton Cummings' tour wowed crowd as headliner was forced to cancel by a case of laryngitis

When you have clear, tuneful voice and an energetic stage presence, you can play the hell out of an electric-acoustic guitar and have a buddy like Keith Gallant to sit in on drums, what more do you need?

If you’re WiL, a Vancouver Island-based roots-blues guitarist who gave a nearly full house at the Clarke Foundation Theatre in Mission something to smile about on Wednesday night when the headliner cancelled, the answer is nothing.

A musician with 20 years in the business who knows his way around a set of guitar strings, WiL was a hit with the almost-full house, eliciting appreciative shout-outs — often mid-song — to a point that even the singer appeared a bit taken aback.

But the real surprise was the one that was sprung on the crowd when they found out Burton Cummings wouldn’t perform.

The March 18 show was to mark WiL’s final night opening for the Canadian music icon at the end of an eight-show tour, during which the Calgary-born singer-songwriter was promoting his new album El Paseo (The Ride).

But Cummings, suffering from a case of laryngitis, never made it to Mission. The announcement came after a 20-minute intermission, just as the audience — which, minutes before had been buying up show-related swag in the lobby — was expecting the singer to step onto the stage.

Instead, Cummings’ band the Carpet Frogs, spent a couple of hours performing hits from decades past for the large chunk of the audience who elected to stay — many taking advantage of vacated front row seats to upgrade the experience.

Cummings’ Mission show has been rescheduled for Monday, April 27. Tickets from Wednesday’s cancelled show will be honoured. They can also be returned for a full refund.

Learn more about WiL on his website at ibreakstrings.com