FREE OLYMPICS – DAY 8

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Éric Lapointe

Back home, artists like Garou and Éric Lapointe would be guaranteed sellouts, but tabarnak, the place was nearly 3/4 empty both times I went to see these famous Quebecers this past week (which means probably less than a thousand people showed up each night). What luck for us few who know better (joke…) and get to see up close these “Vancouver”  hidden gems for free! :D

OK, so maybe the percentage of people who speak or understand French is not that high here. Still, I would have thought that curiosity would have filled in the gaps with the Vancouver population overflowing with Olympics tourists and athletes.

Anyhow, rocker Éric Lapointe and his band delivered a great show for us and the small crowd gave him a warm welcome, shouting “Lapointe! Lapointe!” even before he set foot on stage and continued throughout the evening.

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I suggest you check out the schedule on the Place de la francophonie website and sample some of the music on YouTube. Who knows, you might be surprised. Like, did you know that legendary Quebecer Zachary Richard is actually an American from Louisiana who sings in French? And remember André-Philippe Gagon? He’s the imitator who shot to fame with his one-man rendition of “We Are The World” back in the mid-eighties. These guys will be performing this week. Don’t come in too big numbers, though; I’ve been thoroughly enjoying those front row seats myself! :D

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FREE OLYMPICS – DAY 7

Another night out on the town around Granville St. and Robson Square. Not as busy or lively as the previous night, but still entertaining.

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Elvis was here… :)

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This is the band that I had a blast watching a few months ago.

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One of the two “Duh Hockey Guys”… lol

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Nightly light/laser/pyro show.

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Nightly light/laser/pyro show.

DANCING IN THE STREETS

Last Friday night I stumbled upon a trio of musicians playing at the entrance to the Future Shop store at the corner of Robson and Granville. There were two saxophone players — one alto and one baritone — and a drummer with a minimalistic setup. It was a lot of fun! The music was lively and the band members were obviously enjoying themselves very much as they didn’t mind acting a little silly while they were playing.

A crowd of about 25 people gathered around the band and some danced along to the music (you really don’t want to see my “talent” in this department). One guy seemingly just passing through decided to dance “on stage” for a minute or so, the girls shouting in approval. Another passerby left another sort of tip as he balanced the centerfold of an issue of Hustler magazine on the top of the bass drum with two naked lesbians kissing. lol  The band members and the audience had a good laugh; and no, the drummer didn’t loose the rhythm despite the distraction.  On another song the alto saxophone player asked the audience to repeat the “lyrics”after him (I believe they were made up on the spot — part of the welcome impromptu silliness of the night). The crowd was having such a good time that it wasn’t difficult to get us to participate in the singing.

10-15 minutes later, it was time for me to go (not before leaving my biggest tip ever for a street performance). I hope we get to see more “street bands” like this one in the future. I had seen a few in Victoria a couple of years ago, but in Vancouver it’s a rare sight.

16TH ANNUAL CONCERTS IN THE COVE

Every Friday night, from mid-July to mid-August, people can enjoy live music for free in the great setting that is Deep Cove’s Panorama Park.  This concert series is simply called “Annual Concerts in the Cove” (click here for details on this and more), and it features a different style of music every week.  I went to see a very entertaining performance by Jake & Elwood’s Blues Brothers Revue a couple of weeks ago:

Blues Brothers #1
Jake & Elwood on fire on stage

Robot Steps
Robot steps

Kickin' it
Kickin’ it

Panorama Park
Panorama Park

"Do the Chicken!"
“Do the chicken!” — look at the smiles on those kids’ faces! :)  Great fun for all

Blues Brothers #2
These guys did an excellent job covering the Blues Brothers :)

There are three more concerts to come:

– VOC Soul Gospel Choir (Gospel, August 1st)
– Mariachi del Sol (Mexican, August 8th)
– Gary Comeau & the Voodoo All-Stars (Cajun, August 15th)

If these musical styles fit your interests, go check them out — it’s free! :)

Deep Cove Marina
The Deep Cove Marina

2008 JAZZ FEST – SLIDING HAMMERS

Yaletown Splash
Once in a while they open some fire hydrant valves that shoot up in the sky and give us a spectacular show!

Last weekend Gastown was the stage for the free shows and this past weekend it was Yaletown’s turn.  The weather was perfect.  Well, maybe a little too hot?  on Saturday, me and my friends tried to find a spot in the shade with a decent view on the stage, but of course, they were all taken…

 Too Hot to Handle
The shade was our best friend this weekend — it was HOT!!!

Free Jazz at David Lam Park
The David Lam Park in Yaletown.  That ice cream vendor is sure to make a buck sooner than later! ;)

After roasting in the Sun for about 30 minutes, we decided to head to the indoor stage.  A show was already on and, since spots away from the Sun were on high demand, I only managed to sneak way back in the room, with a wooden pillar right in my face. :s  The band Sliding Hammers was playing:

Sliding Hammers
Swedish sisters Mimmi Pettersson Hammar and Karin Hammar

Sliding Hammers
A fine piano solo just ended

I especially liked Ronnie Gardiner, the drummer, from which you could feel a deep sense of joy through his playing (not that the others weren’t having fun — they were; it was just most apparent in him).  He was all smiles and sooo relaxed behind his drum set whether it was a mellow song or playing through a solo.  Going to live shows is so much fun when you can feel that energy emanating from the band/artist.  It was a very enjoyable show with great music and good laughs listening to the comments the sisters had for us in-between songs.

Official Website

2008 DRAGONBOAT FESTIVAL / THE TREWS CONCERT

Dragonboat Race
Go go go!

I must admit that I can’t seem to find a way to get into the action at the dragonboat race portion of the festival (just my opinion…).  We’re never that close to the racers and when they do get close, the fun lasts but a few seconds.

But I could rave all day about the excellent music the festival had in store for us later that evening (Saturday June 21st*): The Trews, a great Canadian rock and roll band were in town to offer us a free concert in the park next to the dragonboat finish line.  I had heard great things about their shows and, let me tell you, it’s all “Trew.”  Great showmanship and quality rock and roll from the boys; they really know how to work a crowd.  As the evening came to a close, we were so not ready to go!

(*EDIT: I just found out that Rumba Calzada was also part of the dragonboat festival; another fantastic, Latin inspired act)

The Trews
Singer/guitarist Colin MacDonald

The Trews
Lead guitarist John-Angus MacDonald

The Trews
Technical glitch: the lights unexpectedly went out for a few songs and people started bringing out
cell phones and lighters to help out, including the singer! lol

The Trews
Bassist Jack Syperek and lead guitarist John-Angus MacDonald

Body Surfing
You know people are having a great time when body surfing is on

The Trews
Drummer Sean Dalton

The Trews
Make some noise!!!

Visit their official Website or their MySpace page to listen to some of their songs.

2008 JAZZ FEST – RUMBA CALZADA

Rumba Calzada
Left to right: unknown guest; Rolando Preza; Raphael Geronimo

The party was already on as I joined a crowd of ecstatic concert-goers, halfway through Rumba Calzada’s set.  The Latino beats and grooves had many people dancing and cheering at the Maple Tree Square in Gastown.  I was amazed to see how band leader Raphael Geronimo was able to send the groove into hyperspace with his small percussion set.  The solid rythm section was quite enjoyable to watch and hear too.

It’s too bad I didn’t have time to write this article earlier for you guys, as the band was set to play another free show at the CBC Studio One Jazz stage on Tuesday (yesterday).  I’m sure many people took note of it when the band announced this other gig of theirs. :)  Let’s hope they come to your neighbourhood soon! ;)

 

Rumba Calzada
Raphael Geronimo  (multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Apivor in the background)

Rumba Calzada
Miguel Valdez and Rod Murray

Rumba Calzada
Let’s dance!

Rumba Calzada’s Official Website