In the lead up to the 2016 edition of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Coastal Jazz asked various members of the jazz "family" to share their thoughts about artists who will perform at the festival. Today, Fiona Black, Artistic Director of North Shore Jazz and programmer of the Blue Shore Performing Arts Centre at Capilano University talks a bit more about some of the excellent programming on the North Shore this year.
I have been proudly co-producing the North Shore Jazz Series with my friend/colleague Kevin Mooney for the past 15 years in partnership with the TD Vancouver Jazz Festival. It all began as a germ of an idea that we brought to our pals at Coastal Jazz: Robert Kerr, then Executive Director and Ken Pickering, founding Artistic Director. Luckily we were all in perfect agreement and North Shore Jazz was launched, a distinct series within the larger festival.
Our main headquarters were at Capilano University, then Cap College, but we reached out to other North Shore venues and ended up with a nice mix of outdoor sites, theatres and even a library. When I say ‘distinct series’, it became apparent right from the start that we’d needed to program shows that would complement the larger festival’s programming instead of compete with them. A lot of our patrons do come from the North Shore, but we also get many that cross the bridge (the traffic does calm down by showtime!). Some of the more eclectic NSJ artists that we’ve attracted include Dave and Phil Alvin, The Waifs, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Bill Frisell, Ruthie Foster, Kelly Joe Phelps, Duke Robillard, John Boutté and Fatoumata Diawara, to name a few.
The theme for this year’s edition is guitar mayhem. Why guitar? I have always loved the guitar in every style of music from rock to jazz to world to classical. Why mayhem? Why not! Seriously though, I thought the clash of guitar styles was adventurous enough to be deemed mayhem. Kicking things off loudly will be one of the most revered (and fearless) guitarists of his age, Marc Ribot and his Ceramic Dogs project, his most visceral and rawest rock project. Many labels have been applied – punk, hard-rock, power trio so if you like it loud, free-wheeling and unrelenting, this is the show you’ve been waiting for! These dogs have bite with Ches Smith (drums) and Shahzad Ismaily (bass/electronics).
Opening for Ceramic Dogs is more guitar mayhem with local heroes Peregrine Falls comprised of the killer duo – Gord Grdina (guitar) and Kenton Loewen (drums).
Continuing with the guitar theme, Los Straitjackets are a guitar-driven instrumental outfit that are as equally ‘out there’ as Ceramic Dogs. Wearing their trademark Lucha Libre Mexican masks, this instrumental band pays homage to the great rock and roll guitar bands of the past, such as Link Wray and the Ventures. I had the pleasure to see Los Straitjackets recently backing up Nick Lowe at the Vogue and for me, they stole the show with their quirky fun and killer chops.
To close out our shows at The BlueShore at Cap, Jon Cleary makes a welcome return engagement but this time with the Absolute Monster Gentleman, his band mates whom are considered some of the funkiest, soulful musicians in the big easy.
Rounding out our ticketed shows at Presentation House Theatre is the one and only Petunia who is swiftly becoming a local legend. His style of music is a blend of old-time country and rockabilly with plenty of other influences. His voice is like no other, a yodeling, soul piercing voice that seems to be channeling all the past masters of old time music yet completely original. There is nothing straight ahead with Petunia, you feel like you’re under the spell of a ‘Twin Peaks’ like reality where nothing is what it seems.
We offer lots of free shows too so no excuse not to indulge. Another guitarist of note is Vahagni; Armenian-born, flamenco style player who will be bringing his trio to the West Vancouver Memorial Library. For an exotic mix of jazz and world music, we bring you the Huu Bac Quintet from Montreal plus one of Vancouver’s most beloved funk/soul bands, Brickhouse at a new North Shore Jazz site at Lynn Valley Village. Then to transport us back in time to the 20’s/30’s, Sweet Papa Lowdown will bring their retro fusion of jazz and country blues perfect for a summer day at Civic Plaza.