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  • Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003


    Canada Day at Crab Park: A Review

    One Big Happy Family at Crab Park!

     Mark Bignell

    Not many people know about Crab Park. It's well hidden, just west of an overpass (which many think is a bridge) off the foot of Main Street. But once the performers and some of the first time attendees took in the surrounding trees, layered hills, gorgeous view of the north shore mountains and the nature reserve, they were mesmerized.

    This is a park to be proud of. The people of the Downtown Eastside deserve countless thanks and credit for raising this park up from a mere gravel pit to what it is now. That's no small feat. They've also, unfortunately, had to fight city hall for 20 years to keep the park they've worked so long and hard for their own. I was quite proud having my radio show Radio Bandcouver collaborate with Don Larsen and company from Crab Water for Life Society, showing my support for the park, keeping it a much-needed green space for the people of the Downtown Eastside, and offering them some fine music to go along with it. For the most part, the gathered throng was appreciative this afternoon, gathering around the stage, after been served some free grub from the hard-working crew behind the barbecues serving a long line up of people.

    The fine music began with Scott Smith, who you may know from such stellar acts as Bottleneck and the Bughouse 5, and his Eastside Blues Band, who gave their varied and unique interpretations of standard blues tunes. From the Allman Brothers to John Mayall to Little Walter, the band delivered with enough variety to keep even the most jaded listening. Also, having Victor Polyik on the harp, Jeremy Holmes on bass and Liam MacDonald on drums doesn't hurt.

    Smith would later join Auburn on stage later, adding up to one big happy family of musicians on stage who know each other quite well from playing in each other bands, and from living in and around the same streets of the upper main area. The alt-country/roots scene in Vancouver is much like a family: we're all pretty close, which makes it all the more inspiring. Craig Jacks and his mighty horny Jackalopes (every Wednesday at 9 pm at Darby’s, by the way, at 4th and MacDonald) were up next, giving their highly individual renderings of such well-traveled roots anthems as Steve Earl's "I Ain't Never Satisfied,”(giving it more much-needed dirt than the original) and "Barricades Of Heaven,” as well as a lovely version of Freedy Johnson's "Perfect World.” Craig also has some fine songs of his own: "Marisa,”(an ode to his daughter with some haunting guitar work), "waiting for my angel" (which features Shelley Campbell of auburn on backing vocals.),"Wild Wolf" and "Old Mountain Town" among others. In between songs, Craig demonstrated his cheerful madness, poking fun at what he referred to as "mind flatulence,” when he forgot the odd lyric, which hardly mattered to the appreciative crowd.

    Yep! He's a performer all right!

    Then, after a fair delay, the gorgeous vocals of Shelly Campbell and her full group of Auburn graced the stage. Shelley, looking a little ragged, shrugged it off and gave what was easily one of her best performances. From "Drivin' You" to "Typical Truckstop" to "Jasmine" to "Yukon River,” Shelley proved she is one of the best indy artists anywhere with some heartfelt crooning that just had the crowd swooning--some of them taking in her music for the first time.

    The band included the solid core of Jon Wood on banjo, Scott Smith (serving double duty this afternoon) on guitar and pedal steel, Butch Murphy on bass and the steady Ed Gooddine on drums.

    Shelley even broke from her usual more reserved demeanour, offering her Blue Ridge Reveille CD to a member of the audience who actually knew the words to O Canada. “C’mon. somebody’s got to know the words," she declared. Somebody did get up on stage and just got through our country's anthem, with some encouragement from the audience and Shelley. It was good to see everyone there in such good spirits. Shelley even dedicated a song to me: "Bliss,” capping off a sublime afternoon in the most gorgeous of surroundings in Crab Park! They really should have more live shows here! 

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