Over the years, i’ve assembled various recording of Vancouver-centric cultural events, parades, festival, street-strolls, sound-seeing and other miscellany. I bundle and publish under the vaguely euphemistic moniker of “Urban Vancouver”.
As such, i wrapped a proper podcast feed around the lil collection of – currently 7 – audio dispatches.
Stick this in your pod-o-rator if inclined to tempt your tolerance for ambiguity.
Not enough fun in chapter 1? Pack the cooler and hit the road for even more tunes in the sun.
Turns out BC is the land of plenty for summer-time music fests. You probably already circled a few faves from: “Musical Dim Sum: A Guide to Small-ish Music Festivals in BC and Washington” now augment with these reinforcements to keep your head melted at just the right temperature.
But don’t delay, the band’s are warming up… just around the next bend.
Soundwave (Ucluelet BC)
Web: http://soundwavemusicfestival.ca/ Date: July 16 – 18
Blurb: Go deep into the coastal wilderness after evading law enforcement and pack your gear into Mussel beach for monster sound systems and high-end purveyors of electronic music — they say, “Soundwave is a three day Journey Less Ordinary” and point out, “Rough Roads Lead to Smooth People!”
Camping: Short answer = Yes – cheerfully detailed at FAQ Musically noteworthy: Global talent ranging from Live Sets, to an All Vinyl Shakedown
The Big Day Up (Comox Valley
Web: http://thebigdayup.com/ Date: July 17 – 1:30PM to 11Pm ~ plus an after party in the lodge
Blurb: A one-dayer so doesn’t exactly hit my requirements but a day on Mt Washington on the Island is fun in itself — add music for more goodtimes
Musically Noteworthy: Australia’s Cat Empire headlines a bill with Daniel Wesley
Bonfire Music Festival (Birken — near Pemberton)
Web: http://www.bonfirefestival.com/ Date: July 23-25
Blurb: “The Moon Farm is located in a beautiful mountain valley that gets lots of sunshine”
Camping: Yep Musically Noteworthy: “Our stellar lineup of musical performers will appeal to a broad range of the Roots, Groove, Jazz, Funk & Folk audience who are known to appreciate the outdoor festival experience.”
Littlefest (near Slocan)
Date: July 23 & 24
Blurb: “Littlefest is little, with a maximum attendence of 500 folks. This way you can easily find your way around, strike up a conversation with your neighbor, have a drink – while keeping an eye on your kids.”
Camping: Free on-site!
Musically noteworthy: Bands with names like Meatdraw, The Dharmas, Wood Pigeon, and Blackberry Wood, looks like a bit of old-timey, mellow-going, good-times
Bass Coast Project (Squamish)
Web: http://www.basscoastproject.com/bass/ Date: July 23 – 26
Blurb: Appears to be part yoga retreat, part mud wrestling escape, and part DJ-driven dance o’ rama alongside the river. Limberness awaits. Photos look like a life-changing space cruise.
Camping: I’m guessing yes
Musically Noteworthy: Ummm… just not sure how to answer this — decipher lineup at your leisure
Wild Salmon Fest (Lumby)
Twitter: @WildSalmonMusic Date: July 23 – 25
Blurb: Hang/para-glider fly-up plus music festival in the interior and only $40 wknd which supports wild salmon habitat restoration
Musically noteworthy: Rockin’. Country. Blues.
Under the Volcano (North Vancouver)
Web: http://volcano.resist.ca/ Date: Aug. 8th
Blurb: Arts, social change and activism at Cates Park in North Van
Camping: Not officially
Musically noteworthy: Assortment of activist-minded acts including Veda Hilde plus speakers including writer Naomi Klein
Thanks: Photos by KK, Photo editing by fiercekitty, mariachi photo by authour + Tips from various Weed Scouts — merit badges for all!
The summer’s already rolling by and the prime of festivals season is nigh — so hook up your tent trailer, fill a growler of microbrews to go with your a flat of Old Style Pilsner and choose your vibe from world-y folk to trance in the wild.
I went searching for the small time concert gems with on-site camping and eclectic line-ups with a mix of the familiar and musical surprises. Here are the BC treats I found so load up the microbus and hit the road.
Summertime On the Road
Getting there is twice the fun
My fave thing to do come summertime is rolling out to a music festival for some tunes with friends at some splendid locale — letting loose on a grassy knoll and sleeping in tent after a few microbrews to the sound of a distant drum circle. Love it.
Lucky for all of us, BC is filled with funtimes in the summer including music fests. Maybe it’s the grey in the beard but this year, rather than the usual circuit of local civic fairs and folk fests, coupled with a couple trips to The Gorge in Washington for the big festivals, I’m widening my range in search of a few gems which will refresh my soul but still keep me employed by getting me back by Monday.
As such, I went searching for the smalltime treats including onsite camping and eclectic line-ups for a mix of the familiar and musical surprises.
Cascadian Fests Backgrounder
I’ve done my time on Grateful Dead tour starting with a life-changing weekend in Eugene, Oregon 20 years ago.
In the 90s, along with heavy doses of loud shows at dingy bars, I caught plenty of outdoor concert parties including Garcia and Grisman at the top of Squaw Valley Blues Traveller in Telluride and Seabird Island for Midnight Oil during Clayoquot Summer.
Pre-9/11 (which thwarted any chance of visas for dissident poets and performers), my squad of renegades caught 4 years of Peter Gabriel’s stellar WOMAD fests in grassy lawns and canvas tents near Seattle to see the the finest world acts which brought both surprise and clarity from Polynesian Te’Vaka to Billy Bragg and Wilco playing the songs of Woody Guthrie.
Or we rolled over the Cascasdes to George for a bushel of multi-band gigs: HORDE, Further, Joni & Van & Dylan, Dave Matthews, KiSS, The Dead + the brothers Allman and Doobie. Good times but acres of chaos and commotion amongst the sublime views.
And yup, I’ve partied in the hot sun in Seattle for Bumbershoot with endless supply of top bands but lines and crowds to match and caught a Phil Lesh show on the 4th of July on the side of a ski hill — lovely scenery but access by crowded buses and then long drives to camp sites made it less appealing.
Certainly promoters in Pemberton and Squamish are bringing in big names (and decent ducats) but I’m off to find something a wee bit more chill ~ I guess you could say I’m seeking fewer folks at my fests.
For this dossier, I sought out summer music fests with these requirements:
Close-ish — Driveable from Vancouver on a Friday after work
Thrifty — $100-ish will cover your weekend except for beer
Chill — Enough people for a party but not a hectic crowd
Camping — On-site tenting in natural envrions (bonus: lake)
Eclectic — Mix of live music of high quality and interest
The good news, there are plenty to choose from ~ of course, i’ve missed plenty so drop a comment with your favourite.
All of these fests boast enough familiar names to get you grooving plus lots of up-and-comers to discover:
Blurb: Cross the border and cruise the Cascades mountain to the shadow of White Horse mountain with vending, green village, on-site camping, and beer garden with 21+ micro brews
Camping: Tent camping included with ticket — no vehicles on site so you gotta haul in your gear though there is limited car camping
Musically noteworthy: Some familiar names ready to jam: The Presidents of the United States of America, 5 Alarm Funk, Mother Hips, Hot Buttered Rum, and (former Santana drummer) Michael Shreive’s Spellbinder (more)
Date: Aug. 13, 14, 15 Blurb: A bit of a stretch from Vancouver but a big stage of solid acts along the Shuswap Lake with sandy beaches could make a perfect weekend
Camping: Limited camping for $75 for the weekend
Musical noteworthy: Looks like a Canada Day party with Gord Downie & the Country of Miracles, K’naan, Ohbijou, Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long, Wassabi Collective are intriguing and a band called Old Man’s Beard must be good (more)
These don’t fit the requirements per se but worth noting for musical expeditions on street and lawns:
[Vampire Weekend love Phish — See them at Malkin Bowl — photo: KK]
Blurb: It’s like going to the woods to see a show but you are only a stroll from the West End so you can start with ramen on Denman before sitting on the lawn — either inside with a ticket or outside for free
Musically noteworthy: Can’t miss with any of Vampire Weekend, Flaming Lips, Swell Season with Black Francis, The National, K’Naan
Pacific Rim Arts Society Summer Festival 2010 (Tofino)
Blurb: It’s free (by donation) street fair with the streets closed down for concerts, plus panels and workshops from mining & railway songs and more plus spontaneous “mini jams and guerilla dances” in a small town 300 km from Vancouver.
Camping: Daily bus from Vancouver and camping close to site plus bed and breakfast and motels in town
Musically noteworthy: An extensive mix of early and traditional music
Have some time to disconnect and chill? Pack up the microbus and head to any of these exotic treasures:
Starbelly Jamhttp://www.starbellyjam.org/ Crawford Bay, July 16, 17, 18
Getting there is plenty of fun with a free ferry ride from Nelson to see Steve Kimock, Blackalicious and Chad VanGaalan near Creston on Kootenay Lake
Kispiox Festivalhttp://www.kispiox.com/kvmf/ July, 23, 24, 25
Down home style community music and arts festival waaaay up between Prince George and Prince Rupert near-ish Smithers and Terrace for rustic fun
Discovery Coast Music Festival http://www.bellacoolamusic.org/ July 24 & 25
Family fun (read: no beers) with kids acts, along with the very adult Jim Byrnes, nestled in the heart of the Coast Mountains
Edge of the Worldhttp://www.edgefestival.com/ Aug. 6, 7. 8
Seems like heaven up on Haidi Gwaii if you can get there to see Scatterheart rock out (twice) or Crabapple Creek Electric Jug Band go old-timey funny
Shambhala Music Festivalhttp://www.shambhalamusicfestival.com/ Aug. 6, 7, 8, 9
They say, “Shambhala is a journey, an adventure, a life altering experience” So go hear mostly electronic music near Salmo and “just let loose and dance, dance, dance”
So … are you on the bus or what? Good, i thought so.
Which gigs did i miss? Drop a comment and let me know where I’ll see you boogie-ing-down this summer.
Just look for the grey beard, shady visor and a big smile.
This article was written as a “Special Dispatch” for Miss604.com – published in July 2008 while Rebecca and John were elsewhere. Cross-posting here so i don’t lose track of it … and to get ready for sumertime out n abouts.
In the article, besides talking about food and music, I tease many of the Vancouver-area boroughs a wee bit including where i grew up (Whalley) and where i live now (Lynn Valley) which attracted some commenting about region/class misconceptions and soci0-economics.
My article sets out to make the point that neighbourhoods are never quite what you expect them to be and that fact is right-on with me. Again this is a late draft, not final edit – see Miss 604 for canonical version.
Fusion Fest 2008 – Where the Folk are the Audience
By Dave Olson
All my hipster/greenie/crunchy/urbane pals were all bound for the luminary, venerable Vancouver Folk Fest this past weekend. I turned down extra tickets, rumoured media passes, friendly pleadings and erstwhile invitations cause i already had my weekend fest plans in mind – the Surrey Fusion Fest (see also: Greetings from Fusion Fest – video).
Sure you might think that i missed out on the awesome line-up and beautiful people on idyllic Jericho Beach but i spent scant ducats, saw great bands, ate well, and immersed myself in the ethnic re-mix that is the lower mainland’s super-diverse (and much maligned) municipality. Missed nothing methinks.
I made the lengthy transit trek (3 zones for the price of 2 on weekends) from my North Van sanctuary and spent Saturday afternoon/evening at the new Holland Park with my comrade Dan Funboy, and made the following observations:
No LuluLemon pants in the whole place, none
No whiny West-enders rolling their eyes about “the bridge and tunnel crowd”
No small dogs, nor matching small purses to match
Plenty of police but no incidents i saw (except for two cops rolling over curbs and gardens in quads, WTF?)
Surrey heritage signs celebrating Whalley Little League, early settlers on Old Yale Road etc. were cool bits of edu-tainment
Few trees in the expansive park – A nice fountain but not enough trees
Accessible viewing areas for wheelchair rollers to see the bands on the mainstage
Surrey is really making an effort to do something to provide a sense of belonging and community
I am very keen on festivals in general and tend to hang out with the proletariat rather than fancy folks, but i also don’t make it back anywhere near Whalley Exchange these days – cause well, i’ve been there, done that.
But in spite of all the yuppie grumblings from the urban core (many of whom speak of tolerance and diversity while ignoring where it actually happens), this is really where many new Canadians live – and this is where the low-income families can come have fun, where neighbours learn about each other, and where you can enjoy a variety of music you’d otherwise never get to hear. At a thrifty (free) price.
I spent my entire $11 on food tickets (plus someone gave Dan 3 more gratis) and, with Dan surveying the menu guide, we foraged the international booths for the following tasty snacks:
Peruvian empanada (like a Cornish pasty with meat and olives)
Polish apple cake
First Nations salmon (somehow i don’t think the dill sauce and rice pilaf was traditional but sure tasty)
El Salvador tacos al pastor and papusa
Masala tea from India
Even a veteran linguist would be challenged to name all the languages overheard and foodies could sample some creative tasty bits and also check out cultural exhibits from each cultural region (not political jurisdiction as Persia, Palestine, and Taiwan were included).
The musical line-up boasted a variety of ethnic and distinctly regular acts from a rock band you might see at a Bridgeview roadhouse (Rocking out while waiting for Salmon – video) to a bass player from the MicMac nation (via New Brunswick) who’s exclaimed that she’s “been in the business for 43 years”.
The Chieftains were the headliners on Saturday night which had a Celtic bent to it with the Connors before them (Introducing The Chieftians – video). The Dublin-based band were joined by some young Canadians who were dancing and fiddling and mugging for the camera with mucho aplomb.
The main Chieftain didn’t care for the cameras on the stage projecting the show onto video screens. The drummer got to sing one and managed not to incite a riot when encouraging people to drink a long with his whiskey song.
The fave for me were Nettwerk recording artists, Nathan. A four piece with a country lilt and multi-instrument creativity. Switching between banjo, accordion and Theremin, acoustic and electric guitars, they sang tales of romance and deceit in a firm tender way, and even played a waltz. I am sucker for a quaver in a voice and i’ve listened to their plaintive, evocative songs on repeat today.
I planned to attend another day at the fest, but a lazy Sunday of watching the first Alpine stage of the Tour de France and unpacking at my new house (in North Van) won out.
Final observation (with my apologies to the do-gooders) while waiting for a bus at the Newton Exchange, listening to Angus (with a his can of Colt 45) ask a guy if the security guard uniform he was wearing was a Coast Guard uniform, i spotted a young woman wearing a shirt with iron-on glitter letters saying, “I was incredible in bed last night and all i got was this lousy t-shirt”
PS I coulda sworn i saw John Chow, the F*ck Art, Make Stats guy leaving as i arrived. Was that you?
Long weekend outing starting with a beer on Commercial Dr. and a fresh sack of stinky weed – with Herr Meister Funbov and Cousin Herb – before heading off to the Richmond Asian Night Market to sample okonomiyaki, bacon treats, bubble tea, cheap products, Chinese singing and discussing the uniting force of meat on sticks, then finishing the movable feast with a big joint with 4 kinds of kind bud at Trout Lake Park.
A hemp-ed up guide to conscious travel in Japan as Uncle Weed (on the hoof) waxes nostalgic about backcountry squatting in abandoned villages with graves with offerings, wild mushrooms and counter-culture festivals. He relays practical tips on getting around the islands, finding hidden cannabis culture and exploring the natural beauty from sacred sites and hemp fields in Shikoku to high in the Nagano Mountains to wild ganja harvest in Hokkaido – features some unique Okinawan folk music.
On Halloween in San Francisco’s Castro district, Uncle Weed and amigo MadDog witness a shooting with resultant police and crowd mayhem while strolling in geta sandals, plus meet a forlorn yet peace-loving friend on the bus before Weed heads back to the historic Palace hotel. Music by Jerry Garcia Band and Grateful Dead (in case you couldn’t tell).
DaveO chats about International festival funtimes in a busy Vancouver weekend including Commercial Drive Car Free Fest Day, Richmond Asian Night Market, Scandinavian Midsommer Festival, East Van Chopper Fest and more hi-jinks.