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  • Volume Eight, Number Eight: December 2003



    Mark Bignell

    Acoustic Rarity At The Green Room
    Bocephus King / Andrea Parodi And Stevo

    First of all, let me correct a monumental mistake in last month's location of the Green Room. It was meant to read: not to be mistaken for the Green Room on Main near King Edward.

    The Green Room is now back to being called the Media Club, and it's on Cambie and Georgia, downtown, right behind the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Hope we have that cleared up.

    Perhaps the shift in logic had to do with having scarcely a week to promote this rarest of acoustic shows with Bocephus (pronounced Bo-see-fuss) King and his musical compadres. His new album All Children Believe In Heaven is already available in Italy and the Netherlands. Vancouver should have it now or very shortly.

    The show commenced, albeit a tad late, with a lovely set by Stevo from Mazinaw. With a little delay and a few vocal toys, he put on a clinic on what just one person can do armed with only a guitar and a voice.

    He started off with a low-key version of "Rock Sonnet" from the latest, second self-titled release from Mazinaw. The rest of the set, Stevo was seamless, scuffling between two mics, one with excessive reverb and effects and the other used in the standard way. His chiming and looping guitar patterns and his strong and melodic voice had the small but enthusiastic crowd listening in with great appreciation. He can rock, but, there's Folk and Pop influences as well, and he glides through them effortlessly, filling the room with memorable melodies. He's a keeper, folks. Make sure you catch him the next time he steps on stage. He's also spinning old vinyl (you know...records?) every Sunday at The Silvertone Tavern (9-Midnight) as DJ Weave.

    It's a most entertaining way to spend a Sunday evening. He plays everything from Nick Drake to Iron Maiden to the Star Wars theme, complete with him acting out the music, sometimes with his prized toys, on stage--much like he does when he's got the guitar strapped on. A most brilliant performer. Hope you were lucky enough to catch him at the Johnny Cash Tribute late September. It was actually covered in the major weekly (as well as the Columbia Journal).

    So I need not repeat it, even though I was a proud co-presenter, music co-ordinator and host. I only have so much room to conclude that it was a huge success. Meanwhile, back at the Media Club (formerly the Green Room...still on the tour?)
    If anybody knows about Bocephus King's growing popularity in Italy and Europe, you may have heard of Andrea Parodi. He's a promoter of local music in Italy, a writer for a popular Rolling Stone-type magazine and he's a huge fan of Roots music, Americana, Canadiana, and his own Italian heritage. It shows in his music. Direct from Italy, Andrea put on a most enlightening set, with stories of people smuggling goods across the border during the Second World War, and various tales of sexy intrigue and bold characters.

    Although he sang in Italian, the strength of the song writing was so obvious, it didn't matter.
    Italian is such a beautiful language. His English between songs wasn't bad either. He occasionally looked my way for approval on his English.

    I said he was fine. He speaks better English than I do Italian. He sure knows how to strum that wooden six-stringer and get a big sound out of it. Very effective in getting the epic songs across. He could give Bocephus a serious run for his money. He even invited Bocephus on to sing a few bars of an ancient
    Italian song. Here's the awkward English phonetic annunciation: "Camma Bree Sal A Mee Ahh.” An inspired set undoubtedly.

    Then Bocephus ambled onto the riser, with Bottleneck's Scott Smith in tow, adding tasty leads on guitar and pedal steel. The Town Pants’ Aaron Chapman joined in later with some tactful saw; yes saw playing to add further intrigue to the evening. Bocephus was in a light mood this night, with some very comical versions of such cover tunes the Stones' "Waiting On A Friend" (actually hitting the high notes) and an ol'chestnut "Rank Strangers.” By the time he reached the encore, he had people in stitches, making comments about the brown acid, yet not even being on this earth when Woodstock happened in 1969. I mentioned Sesame Street debuted that year in jest, to which he shot back "You've got too many hobbies!!"      

    You had to have been there. His character alone sets him apart from so many acts in this town. You'll have to witness it yourself the next time he plays. Miss him and you've cheated yourself one high-ranking entertainer, performer, and creator of some of the most eclectic and inspired music of this young century. Don't say I haven't told you.

    Farewell To A Fine Local Band
    The Kommission (Formerly Waltz Darling)

    Before we go further into our valued and sometimes grossly under-valued local music scene, I'd like to pay my respects in the passing of one of the best acts in this sleepy little town: The Kommission. Formerly called Waltz Darling, this fearless and dynamic four-piece band was as at home playing polkas as it was playing tunes that meandered between punk, pop, country, and ska to simply scratch the surface. With influences ranging from everything from Hungarian folk tunes, to the Kinks, to The Talking Heads to The Clash to Nick Cave, it really puzzles me how a band this adapt, energetic and entertaining failed to find an audience in this town.

    Attila, lead singer and fellow comrade in the local scene, was an amazing live performer who never failed to dive into his art with both feet, damn it! Gyrating, jumping, twitching and climbing tables to best serve his vocal demons! While Rob, Richard and their third drummer, Michael, backed him up with some of the most solid playing ever afforded to a front man.

    I've seen them play everywhere from the more welcoming stages of The Wise Hall for the
    Clash Tribute, and The Railway Club, to the dingiest, darkest caverns on Hastings at three o'clock in the morning. Even through the most unpleasant situations, they managed to pull through with a continued sense of purpose and a sense of fun!

    Even a most jaded writer for the Westender liked them. Attila broke the news very recently. He told me they may get together for one final gig and that's it.

    After years of slogging it out, they're calling it a day. Thanks For Nothing, the title of their earlier incarnation's CD is, sadly, a fitting epitaph. Wake up, Vancouver! (www.thekommission.com)   

    Keep Live Music In Your Neighbourhood
    Keep Writing City Hall

    By now, you may be aware of Vancouver city hall making efforts to discourage live music at restaurants and bistros lining Main Street, Cambie Street and other locals in this supposed "world class" city.

    Some of the most painfully antiquated rules are as such: no more than two performers allowed on stage with amplified instruments, no dancing allowed and a cabaret license required for a full band, costing a small establishment untold thousands. This is uncalled for.

    If you truly care about nurturing and encouraging local talent in this town, please write city hall.
    Tell them a healthy live music scene on said streets contributes greatly to the local economy, creates a much healthier community, and gives local talent a place to properly develop their talent.

     If city hall wants to communicate it has any pride in its local talent and wants to display it to the world, it would show it by allowing places, which are becoming fewer and fewer, for local talent to grow and flourish. 

    Live music in your local bistro or restaurant makes a community a much more exciting and positive place to live and there are economic spin-offs from it. Keep informing city hall about the positive effects live entertainment can have in your area. These by-laws need to be completely revamped and rethought.

    Contact city hall at: mayorandcouncil@city.vancouver.bc.ca and keep live music in your neighbourhood!

    A few Enthralling CD'S To Feed Your Hungry Player:

    Minimalist Jug Band 
    For Crying Out Loud
    Alternative Folk

    You can't more minimalist then this. The Minimalist Jug Band consists of a desperately creative man by the name of Al, getting the most out of his homemade bass, and his half singing, half talking raps about life and all it can throw at you. This is social commentary, and it's fun to listen to!

    Among the standout stream of thought tales are "Posting Crap On E-Bay.” It doesn't get better then this for playful rants:

    We never wanted free trade and we got hosed.
    They take the oil and gas and make us pay through the nose.
    But it seems we might have the last laugh, because the American bill is worth a buck and a half.
    We sell enough crap, we can buy our land back

    Also available on this amazing playful collection: "Making Myself Sick,” "Problems In a Box,” "Feel Great Today Because I ate Today,” "I'm a lousy Lay" and many many more.

    CD: $15.99, also on cassette...good luck!

    Jane Sawyer
    Self Tilted
    Three-song EP Singer/Songwriter

    Jane sawyer CDIn the liner notes they call Jane Sawyer, ex of Dick and Jane, the missing link between PJ Harvey and Emmy Lou Harris. I don't hear it, but it’s not such a big deal. Jane has a lovely, warm voice that can be assertive, but not preachy.

    Her tunes have solid, gliding arrangements featuring some fine guitar work and some finely layered atmospheric keyboard arrangements. 

    If you're in the mood for some soothing and pleasantly affecting muse, you'll eat this up. The songs on the CD can make you take a serious look at yourself, and offer some comfort if you're ever feeling lost or feeling the affects of an especially rocky relationship. All the songs reveal new charms with each play.

    The 12-string intro-ed "Whose Side Are You On” and "My Perfect Ghost" have some insightful lyrics.

    “I would have loved to have known you. But love wasn't what I chose,” and "This Is The Last Time" are touching songs about moving on. This is a fine sampler from her upcoming album.

    In 3's
    Self Titled
    Fusion Punk Jazz

    In 3's CDThat's what they like to call it. Drummer Shawn Killaly told me I might not like it because it's Instrumental Jazz. Well...it is, but more of a funky fusion of sound, samples and other audio manipulation. That's really not too far fetched for me, especially when it's played well...and it is.

    This threesome, which also features Kristian Naso on trumpet and keys and Alvaro Rojas on guitar, bass and chapman stick, really draws you in right from the first peppy track, in which they yell in unison "Assume The Position!"

    From then onwards, the variation on rhythms and melodies is quite impressive, from slow grooves like "El Commandante,” to more trendy sounds that would be welcome at some of the better raves like "Slappy,” to slower, groove-oriented excursions like "Snaggletooth" to more frantic workouts like "Red Pill.” This is one instrumental Jazz album I don't find boring at all.

    Thanks for the CD, Shawn. Investigate www.in3music.com for further musical needs.

    There You Be.

    Listen to Radio Bandcouver, Fridays at 10 pm-Midnight, on CFRO 102.7 FM for some of the best local music reviews in the lower mainland.
    Visit Radio Bandcouver on-line at: www.bandcouver.com   

    Mark Bignell is an advocate of local independent music.
    His "Radio Bandcouver" show is heard Fridays from 10pm-Midnight on 102.7 FM,
    CFRO (Co-op Radio).

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