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The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552
Fax: 604-267-3342

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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Four   September 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca


    Mark Bignell

    Sad Passings, New Venues, Supportive Labels and: Craig Jacks & The
    Mighty Jackalopes!

    A lot has happened since our last meeting here. Ray Condo, a true champion of Roots music, passed away. He will forever be missed. The Cobalt, home of many in the Punk and Metal community and beyond, closed its doors, and most independent music is still without the proper widespread airplay it deserves.

    But not all is lost. Indiepool and Canadian Satellite Radio, along with Socan, the Caras and other supportive folk, have been negotiating with the CRTC (our governing board that controls the airwaves) to open satellite radio to more independent talent. At time of this writing, there is a petition you can sign to throw your support behind it. (Visit www.bandcouver.com for more info and click on the link to sign it.) There are two more venues offering live music a place to be heard: The Buthchershop Gallery (East 26th Avenue, just off Main Street) and The Showroom (in the old Expo site in The Plaza Of Nations), while the old reliables (Railway, Media, Marine, Pic, Backstage Lounge, Main, Montemontre, Cottage and Bistro amongst others) press on in their support of live music.

    There's also been more noise made from energetic and enterprising indie labels and studios such as: Boompa, Cazart, Northern Electric, Copperspine and The Hive to scratch the surface. Maple Music, a more national label, is throwing its support behind some of Vancouver's brightest lights including: Bocephus King, Bob Kemmis, and The Blue Alarm and Winston).

    All the more community-oriented music festivals have plowed on as usual (Crab Park, Point Roberts) and will return next year, and the former Ranchfest (now called Rattleshake), originally put-together by Alt-Country songstress Shelley Campbell (now with Nettwerk Records with her "Blue Ridge Revile" CD), is back in October. Even Craig Jacks has a regular gig.

    Most every Thursday night (9 pm-Midnight) at Darby's (2001 MacDonald at West 4th Avenue), he and his band of Jackalopes bring you a most joyous marriage of originals (which are now available on his long-awaited disc: "Waiting for My Angel"-available at his shows) and crowd favourite covers by the likes of Lucinda Williams, Neil Young and Steve Earl.

    You can definitely hear their influence on Craig's writing. From the driving wheel feel of "Make Up Your Mind" (you can just see the smile on Craig's face as he lets out a scream late in the song), to the haunting strains of the title track and "Old Mountain Town', to the more whacky and playful tunes: "Burnin' Tires" and "Hot Set In The Old Town.” His CD is a pretty true representation of what he's like live. Although you
    Won’t be privy to his facial expressions, and his spirited direction of his band through hand signals, head bopping and meandering all over the stage. You will be privy to his distinctive growl and the contributions of some of the best singers and players in this or any city. Zubot & Dawson, Bottleneck's Robyn Carrigan, Crash's Mike Kenney, Terry Jacks, and Shelley Campbell, make appearances on Craig's album, as well as his own Jackalopes. This isn't strictly cry-in your-beer ballads. Jacks knows his audience and adds
    considerably more variation with his CD and his live show.

    Contagious energy, smart pacing, and fearless playing, make him one of the best performers on the local front, and you don't even pay a cover to get in!  Consisting of as many as 5 people, Craig's band give his songs the kind of sharp, and undivided attention they deserve. Doug Loshinsky adds his crafty fills and steady backbone. Jon Bews (Radiogram) adds the subtle groove to anchor the band, and as there can be as many as 3 guitar players on stage, Craig Jacks, along with John Shepp and sometimes Craig McCaul, can create either the most sublime mix of atmospheric fretwork or the most insane "freak out" known to humankind, complete with Mr. Jacks laughing in silent hysterics!

    Craig has also been known to change a word or two midway through a song, and utter something totally bizarre, just to see if you're paying attention.

    It's all in the delivery. At the end of one set he declared with mock seriousness:  "We'll be back in...three hours! After all of us drop some more acid,” as he looks at me and laughs. This is one singer/songwriter/musician who's anything but boring. He knows how to get up there and entertain, as well as perform. As he's pointed out many times: "If you're not up there, ready to perform the best you can, regardless of the situation or what day you've had, then you're not in it for the right reasons." This might sound trivial, but there's nothing worse then an artist you've been constantly raving about, being a disappointment as a live act. Craig Jacks and his Jackalopes have yet to be that.

    Craig Jacks & The Mighty Jackalopes perform every Thursday night, 9 pm-Midnight, till the end of October at Darby's (in Kits, on the corner of MacDonald and West 4th Avenue).

    Mark Bignell is a tireless advocate of local independent music. His weekly Radio Bandcouver program can be heard Fridays, 10 pm-Midnight at 102.7 FM CFRO

    Visit Radio Bandcouver on-line at: www.bandcouver.com or e-mail Radio Bandcouver at: bandcouver@hotmail.com

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