While we cannot gather for a 2020 Festival this year, we can still celebrate what the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival means to our community. Festival Tales showcases stories and memories from people who love our Festival—artists, volunteers, audiences, staff, donors, and community members.
This is a collection of those stories that are about relationships that started at the Festival and about some of the hilarious hijinks that happen when the Festival is in full swing.
A Jazz Festival love story from Kemila Zsange:
I met Tim, my current partner, on Canada Day 2007, at the Jazz Fest in David Lam Park. Tim had gone into the Roundhouse for other concerts, while leaving his blanket laid out in the park. I was new to the country and I didn’t know to bring a blanket to an outdoor festival. I went to sit on his empty blanket when the next show started. And the rest, as they say, is history. It’s our favourite festival, and we miss it dearly this year.
This story of a festival friendship from volunteer Tamara Flick-Parker comes from sometime between 2006 and 2008:
I was volunteering for a late shift at the Roundhouse. No idea for which performance, but might have been Peggy Lee & Friends. I had never done a shift there, and there was no Canada Line yet. One of the other volunteers, Sharron, and I began talking. We kinda clicked. I wasn’t sure if the bus I needed to take home was still going to be running (no smart phones yet, at least not for me, let alone transit apps). Sharron had briefly mentioned the area of Vancouver she lived in, and I asked her if she could possibly give me a ride home. She said sure. By the time we got to my house, we had agreed we’d like to hang out again and exchanged phone numbers. When possible, we’ve been hanging out at the Jazz Fest, seeing shows together, but our favourite has been the David Lam Park weekends. We are still good friends to this day all because of the Jazz Festival. In fact, I just Zoomed with her last night. She’s probably about 15 or more years older than I, but she is like a Super Volunteer. She’s really missing all of the volunteering she normally does. I’ve had to pull back from volunteering over the last few years, as I’m in grad school right now.
And a festival love story from 2002 by Bruce Suttie, former volunteer & transpo coordinator:
I had a seat in the balcony of the Vogue and was sitting with several volunteers that I had crossed paths with in my role as Artist Transportation and the intermission began. I suggested we go up the Commodore Lanes Bowling alley as they had craft beer on tap and there was never a lineup. Four of us, all from different crews, got up and I asked a woman in the aisle seat if she could please save our seats. We made it back in time for the headliner and as I thanked the woman for saving our seats I found she was a volunteer as well and she was working a shift the next day at an afternoon show at Performance Works.
We met and shared festival stories and found we had much in common in music and life and ended up crossing paths regularly over the course of the festival, some planned and some by chance. It has been 18 years together and both still involved with the Festival and we celebrate our anniversary of meeting during the best part of summer. Different kind of summer this year but we still have a reason to celebrate.
Our first funny story comes from John Wayne MacEachern, a volunteer:
The 2007 volunteer party was at a place with a pool on South Granville. Great times there! So this one year I took my son—he was 6-7 at the time and had recently taken some swimming lessons—but as far as I knew he hadn’t quite gotten the hang of it yet. Throughout the party prizes were being given out. I was sitting on a chair chatting with my friend Liz when all of a sudden I heard the woman on the microphone say, “First one in the pool gets this Official Jazzfest Briefcase!”. I was fully dressed as I was supposed to be going out on a date after the party, but I looked around and there was my son, running towards the pool. Next thing I know he was jumping in. In a fit of panic I ran after him and dove in to try and save him. Turns out he was a pretty good swimmer. They gave us the briefcase and set of tickets to an upcoming concert. I, on the other hand, had to borrow some trunks and a t-shirt while my clothes dried off in the host’s laundry room. Great memory!
Francoi Depey first volunteered for us in 1993, and shares his surprising love for being on the environment crew:
Freshly arrived in Vancouver and just moving from Europe, I was not familiar with the concept of volunteering for a music festival. There was no doubt that, beside love, one of the reasons why I had moved to Canada was its wild environment. When I realized that not only I could volunteer for a music festival, but I could do it in the “environment” team, I fell in love with the whole country! I quickly realized, that “environment” in the context of a music festival essentially means picking up garbage. I never had so much fun picking up garbage with the background sound of great jazz music in Gastown! It inspired me to volunteer for our local music festival in Smithers for many other years when I moved there that same summer! I returned to volunteering for the Vancouver Jazz Fest several times. Nice environment for sure!
An ill-timed fire alarm story from Betty Perverzov, volunteer:
Sitting in the warm dark night in the cozy confines of the Vogue Theatre, watching the always wonderful Patricia Barber and her trio, when all of a sudden, the fire alarm goes off!! Right in the middle of a song she was playing!! The entire place, me included, jumped to their feet when the word came down that it was a false alarm. Patricia Barber asked if there was actually a fire and the Vogue staff said no. Some guy from the audience called out, “Finish the song!” and she did! Didn’t miss a note either.
A surprisingly festive memory from Renée van Stiphout:
A saw this gentleman in 2019 in the audience outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on the Georgia Street side. He reminded me of Santa Claus. It put a smile on my face as I have always wondered what Santa does on his time off! He’s a cool dude – he enjoys the TD Vancouver Jazz Festival, of course!
And another great story from Bruce Suttie, former volunteer & Transpo coordinator, from the early 2000s:
I was on artist transportation and one of my runs was to pick up Han Bennink, the wonderful free jazz virtuoso drummer and his band of merry men from a sound check at the Cultch. I arrived early and was entertained by the amazing creativity that was taking place as they used anything and everything to make a contribution to the sound. It was time to head back to the hotel so I rounded them up and secured them in the van. Driving along I heard a tap tap tap, and then a seat belt rhythm, and before I knew it my vehicle was a rolling musical instrument as anything that could make a sound was being played. All of a sudden a gush of wind and I looked in the rear view mirror to see the side door of the van wide open as we traveled down Terminal Ave. Everyone in the band was sitting bolt upright and staring straight ahead and looking completely innocent and still. I suspect someone thought the door handle would make a nice sound. I tapped the brakes just hard enough for momentum to close the door and we continued on in silence. I do not believe it was more than a minute when I heard tap tap tap. Good fun!