FolkWorld Issue 41 03/2010; Article by Walkin' T:-)M
With Glowing Hearts
Folk and World Music in Vancouver
The 2010 Winter Olympics were held in February 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver is one of the major cultural centres of Canada. The music of Vancouver and British Columbia is diverse and innovative, according to the Olympics motto: 'With glowing hearts' or 'Des plus brillants exploits'.
The first folk music that sounded on the West Coast of Canada was probably performed by sailors and loggers, later followed by the Methodist church services. Besides indigenous music, of course. Today's Native music largely is a different cup of tea. For example, singer Sandy Scofield, who resides in Vancouver, fuses traditional chants with rock, pop, blues and jazz. On top of that her original topical lyrics that are supposed to stir up some hornet's nests.
Vancouver's folk scene, as we know it today, evolved in the sixties in the city's coffee houses. Some local heroes are still around: Terry Jacks later had an international hit with the song "Seasons in the Sun," Valdy (born Paul Valdemar Horsdal)
1977 saw the first Vancouver Folk Music Festival, which developed into one of the biggest folk festivals in North America. It takes place annually on the third weekend in July at Jericho Beach Park, attracting an audience of 10,000 to 30,000 music lovers. The Rogue Folk Club was formed in 1987 to present concerts of folk and roots music in Vancouver. The club stages 50 to 60 concerts and dances per year, with shows taking place at St. James Community Hall in Kitsilano and Capilano College Theatre in North Vancouver.
In the 1980s, one of Canada's most successful alternative rock acts were Vancouver's folk rock band Spirit of the West.
Their flutist Geoffrey Kelly later moved on to produce The Paperboys' first studio album, and eventually joined the band full time. The Paperboys had many changing line-ups, with singer-songwriter and guitar player Tom Landa being the only constant. Tom Landa was born to a Canadian mother of Irish ancestry and a Mexican father; this might explain their blend of Irish music, country, pop and Latin.
Today Vancouver's music scene is diverse as can be, representing all the peoples and nations that live in the city. Vancouver particularly became a center of attraction for Chinese, Vietnamese and Indians. In 2001, world music artists from different backgrounds came together to form the Vancouver World Music Collective (VWMC), mixing and matching instruments from their particular cultures.
Members of the collective include Asian groups auch as Silk Road, Khac Chi and the Orchid Ensemble, as well as klezmer band Tzimmes; together their music draws on English and French Canadian music as well as Asian, African and Latin American styles. The still existing Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO) also brought various cultural disciplines together. The members' musical persuasions are even more differing than the VWMC's, embracing classical, jazz and world music. The VICO features a core group of more than 20 people and twice as much temporary members.
Mei Han @ FolkWorld: FW#39
Vancouver-based Mei Han is one of the finest performers on the Chinese zheng (a kind of zither), having performed with the prestigious Zhan You ensemble. She owns two Masterís degrees in ethnomusicology - Beijing and Vancouver, respectively - and has produced a large body of original music - from chamber music to free improvisation.
Geoff Berner @ FolkWorld: FW#34
Another very interesting character is Harry Manx, once called the secret love child of Ravi Shankar and Bonnie Raitt. In the mid 80s he studied with Indian musician and Grammy Award winner Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on the mohan veena - a self-designed, 20-stringed cross between a sitar and a guitar. Manx also plays lap steel guitar, 6-stringed-banjo and harmonica, and invented an idiosyncratic fusion of Indian ragas and Mississippi blues.
Eventually, singer-songwriter and accordion player Geoff Berner poses as the Lucky Goddamn Jew. Berner went from punk music to study traditional klezmer music in Romania, and released a trilogy of klezmer-themed records featuring both satirical and political songs.
So take the chance to seek out some good music while you're over for the Olympics, or pay a visit to Vancouver and British Columbia whenever you fancy it. It's worth your while.
(1) Vancouver 2010
(3) Sandy Scofield,
(4) The Paperboys,
(5) John Reischman,
(6) Harry Manx
(7) Red Chamber, ft. Mei Han (from website);
(8) Geoff Berner (by Walkin' Tom).
To the German FolkWorld
© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 03/2010