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.
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
This 4 year old boy stole the show! Everybody was in awe at his prodigious talent.
The mother joined her two children on stage as the MC wondered where they learned to dance like that.
I went to see Downtown Bhangra last Friday, a free Indian flavored show featuring lots of dancing and music. Bhangra is something new to me, but I found the experience interesting. The energy and enthusiasm emanating from the performers was great! The crowd (comprised of many dancing teams set to compete the next day) was alive, especially near the stage, as the night wore on.
The highlight of the night for me was definitely the 4 year old boy blowing the crowd away with his dancing skills in an impromptu dance-off for a variety of prizes. Him and his 6 year old sister were immediately singled out from the rest as the obvious winners. The MC asked the boy to dance some more for us, solo, which he happily obliged. He was totally “in the zone” and having a great time showing his moves to us. The MC then asked the mother to come dance with her two kids. The “show” over, as they made their way off the stage, you could see the boy taking a few steps, then dancing some more, walking a few steps, dancing some more…
UBC Girlz — I think she likes me. :p (too bad the photo is a little fuzzy, but I definitely like the expression)
Bhangra Republik, from Calgary
Being a sucker for live music, I also found the Finnish band Shava, with its Scandinavian blend of Bhangra very good. I missed out on “Dheli 2 Dublin” though, as I left a little early (apparently they’re very good too).
Shava (from Finland) put on a great Bhangra-inspired set
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:
Jake & Elwood on fire on stage
“Do the chicken!” — look at the smiles on those kids’ faces! :) Great fun for all
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! :)
The Deep Cove Marina
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…
The shade was our best friend this weekend — it was HOT!!!
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:
Swedish sisters Mimmi Pettersson Hammar and Karin Hammar
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.
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)
Singer/guitarist Colin MacDonald
Lead guitarist John-Angus MacDonald
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
Bassist Jack Syperek and lead guitarist John-Angus MacDonald
You know people are having a great time when body surfing is on
Drummer Sean Dalton
Make some noise!!!
Visit their official Website or their MySpace page to listen to some of their songs.
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! ;)
Raphael Geronimo (multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Apivor in the background)
Miguel Valdez and Rod Murray
Rumba Calzada’s Official Website
Like Montreal’s “Jazz” Fest, Vancouver’s “Jazz” Fest is not just about “Jazz.” This past Sunday, June 22nd, it was Vancouver’s own Mother Mother‘s turn to light up the stage with their energetic blend of pop/rock/indie music:
left: Ryan Guldemond (guitar/vocals); top-right: Molly Guldemond (vocals/synth); bottom-right: Debra-Jean Creelman (vocals)
Sassy Molly Guldemond
Ryan Guldemond shredding the fretboard
Expressive Debra-Jean Creelman backed by Ryan Guldemond on guitar and Ali Siadat on drums
Jeremy Page (bass/horns)
Check out their official website or listen to their music on MySpace.