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  • Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003

     Localcentric: Fantastic Free Festival!

    August 2 & 3, Point Roberts Music & Arts Festival. A Testimony.

     Mark Bignell

    Just catching the sun sinking into the ocean at the end of each sun-drenched day was enough in taking the trek down to Point Roberts, Washington. It's not a sight you're bound to see in most parts of Vancouver (buildings tend to block the view).

    But, the stellar musical line-up somehow made you feel you hadn't left home. Vancouver has some of the most prolific and dynamic music on the planet. This was made even more apparent with the generous amounts of sun, and the gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains and water on the huge boardwalk, providing a most sublime marriage of sight and sound imaginable.

    Sunday is the big day at the fest, with Saturday being a fitting warm up. Simone Pope played some soothing music on her cello. Rob Brower offered the kids a memorable day on the stage, encouraging musical interaction. Poncho and Sal offered up some pleasant flamenco sounds and if you like dancers, Saturday was the day with the ERIE Celtic dancers and the ever popular Rama belly dancers offering it up in unrivalled quantities...

    If you came for the music, Sunday was jam-packed. The funky-grooves of The Mary Ancheta Band opened this grand afternoon. You may know her as a pitch-hitting keyboardist for Bocephus King, among others. Mary has quite the alluring stage presence as she slinks to the stage like a cat, lets her nimble fingers fly across her keys and sings in a most sultry manner. Her cover of Me'shell's "Boyfriend" was killer. Look for an album this fall.

    Mary's four-piece ensemble included Darren Parris, who would prove to be MVP of the day, on bass. He would grace the stage twice more. Craig Jacks, main organizer of this wonderful annual festival, (made possible with grants from The Arts Foundation and other charitable organizations and small businesses), would later state: "If you get sick of seeing Darren on stage, we could always have him wear a mask!" Annie Rapid was on next with her spare acoustic solo set that's best described as early Joni meets Joan Baez.

    Then Linda McRae bounded to the stage and gave a proud performance, all decked out in her party dress and matching cowgirl boots and hat. Linda's Cheerful Lonesome band included, yes, Darren Parris on bass, Bocephus King alumnus Paul Rigby on mandolin and lap steel, the ever reliable Scott McLeod on guitar and war-horse John Card (once a D.O.A. member) keeping things hopping on the skins. From the mid-tempo "Put The Hurtin' Back In The Bottle" to the gospel rave up "Hoot and Holler", Linda set the mood for the rest of the evening.

    Craig Jacks and his Jackalopes with: you know who on bass, boisterously ambled on the stage, declared Darren "band slut" status, and was firing on all cylinders, with newest member Phil Hartman adding some tasty fills on organ, Guitarist Craig McCaul adding some sublime, atmospheric swells and cries, John Shepp adding some choppy licks of his own, and Doug Leshinsky laying down a steady beat. Craig himself added his own licks and some trippy effects, turning some songs into psychedelic rock opuses on his acoustic, his mandolin and harmonica. From his gorgeous ode to his daughter "Marisa" to the jaunty "Burnin' Tires", Jacks and his troops put on a show that was the benchmark of the festival. It also doesn't hurt that they play every Wednesday night at Darby's (West 4th at MacDonald, 9pm) honing their chops!   

    Jon Wood, one of the most in demand and important people in the local Roots music scene (Coal, Auburn, Flophouse Jr. Belinda Bruce, etc) brought on his latest outfit Little Wonder. His newest recruits provided a little more rockin' approach to Jon's former incarnation Flophouse Jr.'s tunes, plus a few new ones of their own, which had a very 1960's Pop approach, sometimes vaguely Lovin' spoonful-ish at times. I hear it in the riffs. I hope we get to hear "Giant Steps" and the moving "Fallin'" on disc sometime soon. Paul Rigby would sit in again, complemented by Radiogram's Jon Bews, John Cody whacking them drums and Sygirl's Jane Gowan adding some trumpet and keyboards to the mix.

    Bocephus King was the closing act, adding his usual off-kilter demeanour to the festivities by throwing together a completely different batch of players. His brother, Mike on bass, Dave Stanaforth (whose written the odd tune for Bocephus) on keys, Dan Myers on guitar, Rob Joseph on drums, and a throw you for a loop addition of Be Good Tanya’s bass player, Andrew Burden, blowing some wacky and insightful riffs on trombone!

    He kept to his older material, as his newer material (slated for release late September or early October) is quite elaborate. The band wasn't as fiery as his other bands, but, they did do a good turn on such bluesy excursions as "Think About You", "Please Answer The Phone Please" and even invited a young guest onto the stage, singing the rather adult lyrics of such tunes as "Josephina" and " My Blue Soul", which even made Bocephus himself do a double take. The comedy on stage made up for whatever lacked in fire.

    But it's hard to complain when surrounded by such breathtaking scenery. As with last year, leaving such a magical and serene place seemed almost cruel. But...there's always next year.  

    Mark Bignell is a broadcaster and advocate of local/independent music. He can be heard live Friday nights from 10pm-midnight on Radio Bandcouver at 102.7 FM, CFRO (Co-op radio). You can also visit him on-line at: www.bandcouver.com!

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