Monday, 25 June 2012

June has been busy - yeah

June is turning out to be a busy month, helpful since the Vancouver tv and movie industry has ground to a significant dead stop since May.

Adam @ Prophouse Cafe
Earlier this month [June 9th] I got on my bike and caught two great performances on Commercial Drive. The first visit being Adam Farnsworth-Lautsch's CD release party at the Prophouse Cafe; Adam is a crazy kat, a sort of mash-up between Frank Zappa and Cab Calloway in his stage presence. He sings about the crazy stuff that happens to him, such as a case mistaken identity in his song "Marathon Life". His new CD is "Semitone Off" and you can download it here.

Baby Harry @ Falconetti's
My second stop was a few blocks away at Falconetti's. Now for the record I have to say I'm not big fan of venues that generally don't pay their live acts, I've been boycotting the Libra Room for some time now. However, my mate Baby Harry was playing and he convinced me it was in best interest to see him play there. Baby Harry was on form, but I'm not keen on the venue at all. I realise it is tough to be a venue at the best of times, especially on Main St and Commercial Drive, but I just get the feeling this kind of venue is contributing to the demise of live music in East Vancouver in some way by not paying it's performers. The debate rages on nonetheless....

Live from the Drive
June 17th saw East Van Soul Club take to the streets and play its first ever live show at the Commercial Drive Car Free Day. We were first on the bill at the Tribal Harmonix Stage, the rain stayed away and we were able to broadcast live via wi-fi supplied by Bump and Grind Coffee. My thanks to Tim and Garth for making it happen and to Tim Wisdom for inviting me down in the first place.

June 21st saw my two piece band "AI Vertigo" play at the Make Music Festival in Gastown. Last year my soul band Mr M & The All Nighters played the inaugural event. This year had 150 acts and they managed to close off Water St from 6pm onwards. Luckily we got down early enough to find out our stage 17 didn't exist and we ended up being moved to another stage and bumped ahead in the schedule;  we also ended playing in front of a punk band with volume issues. This ended up being the main complaint from the performers, too many stages in a small area, however at least 30,000 people attended the event making it considerably larger than 2011. AI Vertigo play the Richmond Night Market on July 1 at 945pm.
Make Music Festival in Gastown

June 23rd saw East Van Soul Club out in Coquitlam at the Roo Pub for a night of soul tunes and burlesque. Sadly, this was also an UFC night and the combination did not really work [duh]. The audience was a bit mystified by the site of nearly naked women in their local boozarama; its a common sight in Vancouver but folks in the 'burbs are just getting 'lectric light and 'tinternet, so there is a bit of an education curve involved. Dear Suburbia - it is ok to cheer and applaud at burlesque !

On a final note East Van Soul Club Radio is now available for podcast here.

And on a final, final note here's a great video from East Vancouver's High Society

High Society - One Day from Cinemanifesto on Vimeo.

Or go to this web site to see it if you cannot see it above.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Say Hello to Coco Jafro and some live dates

Been a while since I posted something, not that I have been lazy elsewhere, things seem to be coming together in many respects.

I've been following local singer Karina Morin since her days with Richard Coleman's "Soul Assembly". I even made it out to a few of their gigs at The Fairview and Lulu's Lounge in Richmond. Karina Morin is Canada's answer to Alice Russell and she is an import from Montreal, but that didn't stop me from bumping in to her on the set of "The Selection" a few months back, then spending some time updating me on her musical pursuits.

Turns out Karina is in a new band "Coco Jafro", she sent me a few songs and I was immediately impressed with the tunes particularly "Voodoo" and "The Dude" . The band is nice n' tight as it blends elements of latin, funk, soul and jazz - having Karina's vocal enhances the mix greatly, however the band holds its own on instrumentals equally. A feature of the band is the dual melody/harmony playing between sax/guitar or hammond, this lends itself to more of jazzy feel, you can hear it on "Jam Killer" and a few of the other tracks. 

Coco Jafro play the Victoria Jazz Festival June 30 at 330pm and the up to Crofton for a night at the Crofton Hotel July 7. Coco Jafro will be in Vancouver very soon - June 22 at the The Railway don't miss out when they do.

In other news - June 17th see's East Van Soul Club Radio making a live appearance at the Car Free on Commercial Drive event. Yours truly will be dj'ing from noon til 1pm from the stage at Venebles and Commercial - just outside the Bump n Grind Coffee shop. If all goes to plan we will broadcasting live for the hour, so that EVSC Radio listeners outside of Vancouver can join in the fun.

East Van Soul Club has been bus[t]y of late, 'er so to speak ! Back in April we tried a night of Burlesque and classic soul tunes at the Great Bare Pub on Kingsway in Burnaby. Owner Damian was impressed enough he booked us back June 1 and July 6. He also booked us in to his other venue in Coquitlam June 23rd. This is the first time either of these venues have had Burlesque dancers, so well done to Damian for giving it a shot. 

East Van Soul Club Radio had its first interviewee a few weeks back, I think it will now be a regular feature on the show. Thanks to Taryn LaRonge for coming in and having a chat. If you are interested in being a guest on the show please contact Ian directly.

My own band AI Vertigo play the Make Music Festival June 21 in Gastown

Overall it should be a busy summer for all concerned.

You can hear East Van Soul Club Radio Podcasts here

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

East Van Soul meets Sassy Mama Burlesque

I always thought the pairing of soul tunes and burlesque would be a fine combination, a few Friday's back I got to witness it first hand at "Soul Mates". The combination of live music and burlesque has been on the scene in Vancouver for a few years, mainly as an add on. However, this gig on Good Friday was a complete gig with band and dancers playing equal roles on stage.

The event was produced by Rebel Valentine, together with dancers Ruthe Ordare, Valery Vyntage, Camero Luvroc & April O Peel, the ladies put on a fabulous show that the audience got in to and grooved along to the tunes.

The All Nighters band consisted of Eric on bass, Joel on guitar, Cris on drums and Mark on keys. The band got off to a bit of a shakey start as this was their first gig with the line-up but after about 30 mins they settled down and took command of the tunes. Some of the great songs we heard "Ain't too Proud to Beg", "Get Ready", "Mercy" and a rousing version of "I Just want to make love with you". Rebel's highlight as always was her interpretation of Tina Turner's version of Zeppelin's "Whole lotta Love", which still gets me thinking of Robert Plant in a leather mini and hi-heels !

The venue at the Sin Bin has seen some changes over the years. The last time I was at the location it was for a Green Party event and an Afro-Cuban drum troupe was playing. It's a medium size venue, close to Olympic Village Skytrain at the south end of the Cambie bridge, located at 295 West 2nd Ave. Not bad location wise, but they have to beef up their PA if they want bands there on a regular basis.

The same line up of luvly ladies will appear at the Great Bear Pub, 5665 Kingsway on April 20. Check out the event on Facebook.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


A few weeks back I had the pleasure of catching  the lovely Tonye Aganaba at the Electric Owl on Main St. So inspired I was, I thought I'd do a special posting dedicated to Tonye and the great music she creates.

Can you tell us a little about yourself, where you were born and your childhood - was it musical ?

My name is Tonye Aganaba, and I am a singer songwriter based in Vancouver, BC. I was born and raised in the UK, and moved to rural Saskatchewan at the age of 14 with my family. We moved over to BC a year later and I made my way down to the west coast from Dawson Creek as soon as I was able to! I grew up in a very musical household, my Dad is a nut for all genre's of music, but the biggest influences I can remember from my youth are definitely Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and George Benson. The greats!

You have been in Canada for over 10 years, how has Vancouver changed your outlook on music and on life ?
Vancouver has changed my outlook on music and life in many ways, but I think the biggest would have to be bringing me to the realization that work ethic is everything. The westcoast is laid back by nature, so the ones who win big, are the ones who work hard and are truly dedicated to their craft. It's not enough to be able to pick up a guitar and play, you've got to bleed for it. Vancouver is not an easy sell, you've really got to bend over backwards to try and do anything in this town, but I'm eternally grateful for it. I love the work I do, I love playing live shows and once you reach a certain point you start seeing the effect that your music has…and its brilliant. 

How do you find the music community in Vancouver - are they are friendly bunch ?

The music community is very friendly, but I find  that its really dependent on what style of music you make. I kinda flit around the edges and make every style, so I've been lucky enough to meet people from all genres but I've experience that "Boy's Club" mentality in my time here. I feel for new artists that move to this city looking for a community as it can be really hard to break in. The conscious hip-hop/r&b scene is incredible though, so open and welcoming!! I'm glad I found my home there!

How do you like the venues ? Do you have much opportunity to play and play for money ?

There are some venues in this city that are absolutely incredible and I love playing them in fact, Guilt and Company (1 Alexander Street) is one of them. They are absolute sweethearts, Jody especially, and we always seem to catch a beautiful crowd when we're there! As for playing for money, I've been lucky enough to play alot in this city, but it's up and down though. The digital revolution has really taken a toll on the live music scene as venues are just not willing to pay bands and performers what they're worth, especially not when they can play a DJ a fraction of the price and have music going the whole night. That's why I perform with DJ's, as a solo acoustic act, with a live band, and to my instrumental backing tracks, I try to fit into every venue and when you find those ones that are willing to invest in quality entertainment, you've got to live up to those standards and deliver an incredible show!

What is your fave venue in town to play ?

My favorite venue in Vancouver to sing in has to be The Commodore Ballroom. I've had the pleasure of singing on that stage twice, and both were incredible nights that just blew my mind. It's one heck of a room, and to hear myself busting out of those speakers was just…..wonderful!

Who are your main musical and artistic influences ?

My main artistic influences come from a variety of backgrounds, but I'd list them as follows ( in no particular order)

Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dave Mustaine, Don Alder, Andy McKee, Q-Tip

You were a good friend of Randy Ponzio, how did Randy come in to your life and what did you find so special about him ?

I met Randy while he was busking on the streets of Vancouver. I was having a pretty awful day and going through some personal turmoil, and I was just drawn to this mans incredible voice and persona. It was funny because I actually asked if I could sing with him and he said no. So I just sat and listened, and my mind was blown over and over again. He was, seriously one of a kind. As I sat there, I started harmonizing and singing along, and he heard what I was doing and invited me to join in. The rest is history as the say. We kept encountering each other on the streets of Vancouver, I would see him out busking all the time, and I would hop in and join him for a tune if I had the time. Eventually, he started bringing me in for shows, and he asked me to sing with him officially as part of The Foundation. It was then that things started getting wild! We opened for some artists that I could only dream of seeing live and he mentored me through the release of my first project, gave me hours of his time when I was dealing with family issues, fear and confusion. He was a true friend, and a brother. What really stood out to me about Randy was the fact that he was open to life, and he used his gifts to bring light to the issues that we tend to ignore. He took these amazing moments in shows to turn down the music and just talk to the crowd, to show them the truth. He was like a prophet.

How do you do your recording ? Do you hire a producer ? DIY ?

My recording process is entirely dependent on the project, I sometimes hire a producer or collaborate with one, but I've also been known to track my own stuff too. I've worked with some really wonderful people within Vancouver including Bobby Morales, Jeff Daniels, Sean Dimitre, Chin Injeti, REL!G!ON, Graeme Collins, and Randy Ponzio of course and I loved working with them because we understand each others visions and connected really nicely in the studio. I believe that the best way to grow is by working with those that you admire and aspire to be like, and that's exactly what I've been lucky enough to do. Thanks to all of you incredible producers and are the BACKBONE of what we as musicians do!

You can see more of TONYE on her web site

Monday, 27 February 2012

Introducing East Van Soul Club Radio

Someone - obviously not an animal lover said "there are many ways to skin a cat". This may or may not be true, yet in this time and age where multimedia manipulates the most mindless of activities, we are often asking the question, "how do I deliver my music to the masses" ? In this case there are so many "cats to skin" one may need a degree in something or other just to wade through the mire.

For over a year now I have produced and broadcast a live radio show from from my own living room. Originally, I had DJ'd in that cess-pool of 3-D degeneration known as "Second-Life"; indeed I had spun my disks at reputable venues such as "The Twisted Wheel" and even a Second Life version of "Wigan Casino".  As I weaned myself away from SL I realised I could continue my radio show simply by using Facebook as the contact medium - lo and behold it worked.

East Van Soul Club Radio broadcasts every Monday 10-1pm. I get to play the tunes and chat and generally enjoy myself. My listeners have tuned in from as far away as Greece, India, Barbados. However for the most part they are in Greater Vancouver and my native Wigan. My listeners are personal friends, x-school pals, relatives and total strangers; you too can listen in, all you need is streaming capabilities on whatever music player you have ITunes, Realplayer and Windows Media Player seem to work well enough. A surprising number of people don't know streaming audio exists, its always a bit of work getting  it to work if any of the three pieces of software are not installed, but it is worth the wait.

One of my fave aspects of the show is playing locally grown soul "related" tunes. Let's face it Vancouver is not a source of great soul music, so the net is cast wide and I expend the genre to anything funk/blues/rock related. Some of the great local artists I have played include Baby Harry, Khari and The Hastings, Ani Kyd's Blues Experience, Return of the Stern, High Society, Jackie Treehorn, Colleen Rennison, Devon Martin, Tonye Aganaba, Adrian Essiet, Katelyn Molgard and Jimmy Zee and of course my own band Mr. M & The All Nighters.

I also love to feature the nu-soul performers such as Alice Russell, Duffy, Paloma Faith, Mayer Hawthorne, Sharon Jones, The Budos Band and Charles Bradley, Quantic, SixToys, James Taylor Quartet and many others.

I also like to rock out with a hard edge with Ocean Colour Scene, Buckethead, The Jam, Nine Below Zero, Dr Feelgood, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Moore, The Smiths, Queen, Deep Purple and so many others. So the music kinda jumps around - however we always begin and end with awesome Northern Soul tunes.

You can check out the East Van Soul Club Radio page on Facebook and join the Facebook group.

Hope to have you listening sometime soon, say hello and I'll give you a shout on the radio.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Three NEW Tracks from East Van Soul Club

Coming up with original music is difficult when you love that old soul vibe so much. For the last few years I've worked hard to find the right balance between authenticity and creating my own thing.

Almost every piece of contemporary music today has some element of "computer" creativity. Whether it be in the backing track over-layed with an awesome vocal or a sampling of an unknown classic added to a new groove - the balance is most important.

I've spent the last twelve years working with Macs and music.  In the early days it was painfully frustrating, I simply did not know how to "assemble" a song in order to make it palatable to the human ear. Two wives later I'm still at it and I believe I have come to a point where the music is starting to pull together that might attract attention.

Music is such an individual pursuit these days; endless hours spent in front of the computer, its a lot like writing a book thirty years ago on a lonely typewriter. Whereas music production of the same era could only be a group effort, music production today is endless hours in front of the screen tethered to the speakers - surely this has some bearing on the end result ?

So I present three tracks that have blossomed from the inspiration of others and in doing so I present the original tracks via YouTube, so you can get a feel.

Let me know if you think I have captured the vibe or not.
TRACK 1 -  Original - Cold Grits cover of the Isley Brothers "It's Your Thing"

Here's my version U r thing

TRACK 2 - Original - Dana Valery "Interest Lies" classic Wigan Casino floorfiller

Here's my version Interest Lies

TRACK 3 - Original - The Quik "Bert's Apple Crumble" probably the best thing to ever come out of Southampton musically speaking

Here's my version Quik to the Stick

Check out East Van Soul Club on Soundcloud

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Event Review: Baby Harry Electric Owl Jan 12/12

Baby Harry & Guests @ Electric Owl
January 12, 2012
Baby Harry Callaway has been ploughing the fields of BC's pub and club land since moving from the US a few years back. His original musical style varies from Hendrix, Prince and a bit of Lenny Kravitz for good measure. As a guitarist Baby Harry brings a similar style to the aforementioned, he's certainly not a "shredder", rather relying on his fx, which is uniquely disguised on stage.

Baby Harry has a rather unique stage presence, giving it 100% and then some. Baby Harry is as visually stimulating as he is audibly, using interesting combinations of suits, bow ties and hats to come off as a kind of 60's MC with a loud guitar. Adding BH's style is his choice of guitars, rather than using the standard Fender or Gibson, BH prefers a Hagstrom semi-hollow or a recently defunct East Vancouver Sparrow Telecaster. On this gig BH used a Mesa Amp and speaker set.

Also playing with Baby Harry in support was Don Alder, Vancouver's most underrated guitar player. Don's technical issues let him down, having your acoustic pick up fall inside your guitar is never a plus. Tonye Aganabe came across with a modern day Chapman-esque vibe, which got the audience feeling groove; a personal highlight being Tonye's dedication to the late Randy Ponzio.

The Electric Owl has barely been open a year. Located in the recently rebuilt 928 Main Street, it brings a new vibe to the block occupied by the Ivanhoe and Cobalt. The concrete floor gives it more of a colder feeling than most places, wooden dance floors are the only way to go. Drink prices are reasonable, sound was good but the downstairs lav was out of paper and had some other parts in need of repair. On the plus side this certainly a live music venue, I don't recall seeing any flat-screen tv's in the place. They have live music during the week and dj's on the weekend, which is problematic and needs fixing.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Welcome to East Van Soul Club

Welcome to East Van Soul Club

EVSC was started in 2005 as a result of a meeting with Wigan Casino founding DJ Russ Winstanley. Russ and I are from the same town, I grew up buying imported 45's from Russ' Rock and Soul Shop on Hallgate. In 2002 Russ was the DJ at my high school reunion. Russ signed a copy of his book "Soul Survivors - The Wigan Casino Story" and Volume 2 of the CD compilation; at the time I though Northern Soul was a thing of the past. We got chatting and some years later the East Van Soul Club was created. 

What is Northern Soul ?

Initially, EVSC was started to work in conjunction with my band "Mr M & The All Nighters" which to any Wigan Casino fan is an inside joke. The band went through many incarnations from 2005 to 2011, over 50 musicians and singers went through the revolving door of Mr M. Finally, in November 2011 I had had enough and it was time to move on musically, however the East Van Soul Club lives on.

In 2008 I got hooked on "Second Life" this opened the door to some online dj'ing. I even played at a Second Life versions of the Manchester's Twisted Wheel and Wigan Casino. This went on to progress in to East Van Soul Club Radio, an online radio show that airs live every Monday 10am-1pm Vancouver time or 6-9pm Wigan time.

In March 2011 DJ's Jonny Grayston and Jarrod O'Dell asked about using the name East Van Soul Club. I gave them permission to do so and registered the name under creative commons. Jarrod and Jonny had just started at the Waldorf, a few months later they moved to the Biltmore and continue to have a successful event there on the second Friday of the month.

With Mr M & The All Nighters gigs were always presented by "East Van Soul Club". With the demise of the band East Van Soul Club presented its first stand alone live event December 23rd 2011, at the Media Club. DJ David Love Jones and bands "Return of the Stern" and "High Society" got East Van Soul Club off to a rousing start.

2012 will see East Van Soul Club presenting live events at the Railway, Media Club, Electric Owl and other fine establishments in Vancouver.

Welcome and please keep coming back for music reviews, event reviews, book reviews and everything to do with soul related music.

Check out East Van Soul Club and East Van Soul Club Radio on Facebook