Thursday, 20 June 2013

Car Free Day - Hits a home run in to the left field

The Car Free Day Festival in Vancouver originated on Commercial Drive - it stems from the rise of "green" politics on the east side of the city; seven years on the event continues albeit it has major competition internally and externally.
twidling my knobs in public

I love car-free day, my band Mr M & The All Nighters played it in 2007, it was raining that day but we had a good time and have the photos to prove it. Last weekend my new band Vertigo played the mainstage as its first ever public appearance and I got to supply the sound through my Adanac Sound for the whole day.

Car Free Day currently runs in 2 other locations; Main Street and Denman Street. The Main event expanded this year to 33rd Ave, making it by far the biggest of the three. Opposingly, by all reports the Denman event continues to dwindle, possibly due to the lack of support from the local BIA. The Commercial event continues, however it has strong competition from the rejuvenated Italian Days that is now just the week prior. Commercial Drive is known as for its "cool-ness" however some parts of the drive are "cooler" than others. South of 1st Avenue the event seems to get about a third of the crowds, this is a little bizarre since people arriving on transit have to get off at the Skytrain and or Commercial and Broadway. The mainstage is located at 7th and Commercial and it was powered by Fraser Valley Cow Poo

the view from the sound desk
As expected the day was a long one for fellow organiser Joel Liman and myself. we were basically loading gear at 8am and ended the day around 9pm loading the gear. Our stage was kindly supplied by Conrad Schmidt @ Vancouver Sound and Lights, special thanks to Devo for helping us put it together. This was the first time out for my PA system, so I was a little nervous as to its reliability, volume and quality. We had a bit of freak out 2 mins before noon when we had no monitors, however with a little help we got things off to a good start.

Vertigo - rockin' out
The bands were awesome, we had many different styles from bluegrass, rock, funk and soul. Coco Jafro had an awesome set despite Karl leaving his keyboard dongle at home, Kiki Em was in fine form and my PA did her justice. My mate Brian Harris made the trek from Maple Ridge to perform with his band "Ages". My band Vertigo did well for its first gig, a bit shaky in spots, but not bad at all for a first outing, at least we are still together and have not parted ways immediately after. Our next gig is July 6 at the Richmond Night Market. Joel and his various bands performed well with some impressive new singers in tow. Nice to see the lovely Rebel Valentine in her post natal repose back on stage.

Ages - doin' their thing

Once the bands were done it was time to pack away the stage and the PA, thankfully made easier by the volunteers that turned up to make it happen. My thanks to Joel, Conrad, Devo and all the performers for making it happen; after a few days rest and a few ideas to make the mainstage that much better,  I'm already looking forward to next year.

To see more photos from the Mainstage

Friday, 7 June 2013

Return of the Stern and Skylab Sounds @ Cellar Jazz June 5th

Wednesday nights are not usually a busy night for most venues, this last Wednesday [June 5th] at the Cellar Jazz in Kits was no exception, however what the audience lacked in numbers they certainly made up for in energy and participation.

Kicking off the night were recent imports from Victoria, Skylab Sounds; Skyla and Ozzie have just moved from the Island yet have already garnered a bit of a following in the city. Their funky/jazzy laptop beat oriented sound was a perfect fit for the Cellar, a venue that admittedly doesn't see too many laptops onstage. Skyla's vocals are well suited to the downtempo vibe and Ozzie's keyboard and bass foil fits nicely in their overall sound. They will certainly be coming back to the Cellar in the near future.

Return of the Stern is a band that I have been following for a few years now. I first put them on with High Society back around Christmas 2011 at the Media Club and was immediately impressed with their ability to groove. Although the line-up has altered some what since, the central core of Adam Baylin Stern on drums and Ryan Grimsey on keys has been consistent. With the recent addition of my former band mate Lorick Russow on tenor sax and Graham Holland the band have a more of a jazzy feel. Lorick's wacky street smart style is a perfect foil for the talented Ryan on electric piano. On a side note Ryan is a graduate of the Young Lions jazz school, having played in the class at age 12, so it was great to see some of that come to fruition on stage. This was the band's most prestigious gig to date and they certainly rose to the occaison. The Cellar is a perfect venue for them.

The future of Vancouver jazz lies in the hands of bands like these; not only within the music they create but in their ability to attract a younger audience. Music is always evolving whether people like it or not, new styles attract new audiences and new audiences keep venues like the Cellar alive. About 90% of the audience had never been to the Cellar Jazz Club before and that was also good to see.