Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Re-Birth of Vancouver's Soul

Announcing The New Wave of Vancouver Funk & Soul

In the late 60's Vancouver's funk and soul scene hit its first peak as Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers released their only album with the hit single “Does Your Mama Know” on Motown [the band featured Tommy Chong]. Their hits put Vancouver on the map for a short while, if in name only. Jayson Hoover recorded one of the first albums at Mushroom Studios and had a Canadian hit with “King Size”. Other Vancouver notables on the scene were Kentish Steele and The Epics. In the 80's Vancouver was regularly funkin' it up to the groove of Henri Brown and HB Concept – then things went relatively quiet until recently.

The Vancouver soul and funk scene has been slowly building up momentum over the last few years. If you have ever been to the monthly East Van Soul Club event at the Biltmore [2nd Friday of the month] you will already know there is a yearning for that old funk and soul vibe, particularly in the mid 20's crowd. If you have ever been to a Five Alarm Funk or No Sinner gig you will know what kind of following they have. There are numerous other bands of note Tonye Aganaba & The Foundation, High Society, Coco Jafro, Victoria's The Chantrelles and Northern Soul influenced Van City Soul Quartet are pushing out new original recordings that answers the call for eager new fans.

One of the more significant Vancouver developments is the presence of soul legend Dutch Robinson. Robinson is the original singer with 70's funkers Ohio Players; Dutch left the band in 71 and continued as a solo performer signing to United Artists and released “Can't Get Along Without You” . The 45 currently sells for about $100 on Ebay and is a favourite with British Northern Soul fans. Dutch recently got invited to play at the world's largest Northern Soul event in Skegness, England; along with the likes of Archie Bell, Tommy Hunt, Dee Dee Sharpe and 8000 ardent Northern Soul fanatics. Dutch also plays a regular gig at Guilt & Company in Gastown.

“Having a veteran like Dutch Robinson is a major inspiration and catalyst for new ideas” says East Van Soul Club founder Ian Gregson. Gregson who originally hails from Wigan [home of the Wigan Casino] also says “Dutch is the icing on the cake for the re-birth of the Vancouver soul and funk scene”.

“Too often the bands either break up or move to larger and cities in order to keep themselves alive” states Gregson from his home in East Vancouver. “I believe Vancouver has what it takes to keep a vibrant funk and soul scene sustainable”.

There are several venues that favour soul and funk bands, particulary the aforementioned Guilt & Company, The Vancouver Fanclub and the monthly event at the Biltmore.

If in doubt to the validity of this re-birth head on down to a Dutch Robinson event at Guilt & Company and marvel at the 20-somethings dancing up a storm for the 68 year old veteran.

Check out the following bands via their web sites:
Check out these venues:

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