Canada Day at Crab Park: A Review
One Big Happy
Family at Crab Park!
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
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!