Why would a non-Jazz fan be excited about, and show up to spend a bunch of cold hard cash at a Jazz Festival . . . or in my case Festivals . . .plural? Simple – jazz festivals are rarely only about pure jazz – or what I think of as pure – 3 or 4 guys working an endless jam with few vocals and definitely no dancing. While I respect the tradition and the complexity, it’s not my style. I like more fun, more vocals, more guitar and definitely more dancing. I love the music that grew from jazz roots, which covers pretty much all music actually, but I’ll stick to some direct offshoots – blues, Americana and a whole lot of great music that doesn’t fit neatly into any category other than great (well at least on my playlists).
Here’s my personal lineup for the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, a ten day musical extravaganza crossing multiple genres and tastes at both ticketed venues and free outdoor events all across Vancouver.
Kicking things off right I was lucky enough to score some sweet free tickets to see the Dirty Projectors on Friday night. This is a very different band for me, but since it’s free, I’m going to check out their weird and hopefully wonderful synth/indie pop. Friday, June 23, 2018 at the Vogue Theatre.
I cannot wait to see the sublime guitarist Nels Cline, who performs with drummer extraordinaire Scott Amendola as Stretch Woven. This is Nels Cline’s side gig from his day job as Wilco’s guitarist. His guitar solo on Impossible Germany is maybe one of the best . . . ever. If he plays this and I get to see it live, I can truly die a happy woman. Saturday June 23, 2018 at The Ironworks Studios on Granville Island.
You might be familiar with Morgan James from her work with Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Jukebox. Stunning vocal range and a delivery not to be missed. Check out her cover of Prince’s Call My Name. It’s not jazz, it’s not rock, it’s just fantastic. Sunday, June 24, 2018 at Performance Works on Granville Island.
Another talented female vocalist will be gracing the small, intimate stage at Capilano University as part of the North Shore Jazz Series. Eileen Jewell sings Americana, blues, North American folk/tradition. I fell in love with her Alt-Southern, New Orleans blues style “It’s Your Voodoo Working” the first time I heard it. Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at CapU
I don’t have enough words to describe how much I love St Paul and the Broken Bones. Amazing musicians, amazing performance, amazing show. I caught them at the Joy Theatre (a fabulous new venue on Canal St) during this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (another Jazzfest for people who don’t only love jazz – but that’s a whole other story!). It was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen and good enough that I almost missed the call for Day 1 of Jazzfest! Check out this acoustic set from NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts and then image it electrified, on a big stage, late at night, with drinks. Yah, you got that. Don’t miss them. Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at the Vogue Theatre. Holy crap they will blow the dust outta those old bricks!
Robert Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters are on my wish list. Like I wish my musical fairy godmother magically gifted me one of the $200 tickets. Coz that’s outta my price range. I try to keep it around $25 and will stretch it to $50, but I’m not ponying up $200 clams, especially at the staid, sit down Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Great acoustics, but boring as. I saw Mr. Plant and his Shape Shifters at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY a few years ago. They were fantastic. The performance was halted and the grounds evacuated for rain, hail and tornados (seriously, you can’t make that up) so I’ve always wanted to see the end of the set. If this is your one show and you want to spend the whole budget on it, definitely worth seeing. It’s not a nostalgia act, the music is new and relevant, his voice holds up and I love how he owns every line on his face. He earned every single one! Like I said, wishing for the fairy godmother of tickets to drop on by!! Friday, June 29 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
Wrapping up my ticketed events is Jerry Douglas, Dobro master and multiple Grammy award winner. I’m expecting a free wheeling show that covers everything from bluegrass through rock and jazz to blues and maybe some Celtic. Yah, that’s what happens at Jazzfest’s, amazing musician’s that just don’t fit neatly into an FM radio category! I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night. Saturday, June 30, 2018 at the Vogue Theatre.
And if you want to try a sampling of everything on offer, but don’t have budget for multiple ticketed events, catch one of the free outdoor shows: Downtown Jazz at the Art Gallery , or the Granville Island or North Shore series. And of course, David Lam Park on Canada Day is a Vancouver tradition not to be missed.
Grab a friend, or just show up and make new ones; there is so much fabulous music to experience over the next 10 days, get out and enjoy it all, because . . .