Levi James and Chelsea Brennan simulated a lion and gazelle when the Serengeti-themed Hope Couture luncheon reportedly raised more than $700,000 for the B.C. Cancer Agency’s pancreatic cancer rapid-access clinic. Malcolm Parry / PNG
HOPE SURPASSED: Susan Chow and Lisa Dalton co-chaired the recent sixth-annual Hope Couture luncheon that reportedly raised more than $700,000 from 415 mostly female guests. Those donations will help the B.C. Cancer Foundation fund a pancreatic cancer rapid-access clinic. At the event, medical oncologist and Pancreatic Centre B.C. co-director Daniel Renouf said a recent wide-scale study of the role of genetics in pancreatic cancer will further B.C.’s pioneering role in screening for the dangerous ailment. He said the clinic will bring together “oncologists, surgeons, geneticists and the scientists. That’s the innovative part.” Along with a fashion show by the Bacci’s and Boboli stores, the Serengeti-themed luncheon had body-painter Christina Rapacz present fitness instructors Levi James and Chelsea Brennan as a lion and gazelle. Fully dressed attendees tucked into an entrée of chermoula crusted B.C. ling cod and vegetables.
WALL FLOWER: Hope Couture participants Charlotte Wall and daughter Sonya Wall paid $18,000 to name a new bloom donated by Langley breeder Brad Jalbert’s Select Roses concern. The rose will commemorate Sonya’s corgi Joe, who recovered from cancer to die of old age. Joe’s recessive fluffiness makes similar Corgis ineligible for showing and thus not favoured by breeders, or possibly the Queen. Happily, cash raised in his name may help humans survive cancer as the much-loved furry outcast did himself.
SECOND BOUQUET: Inspired by the Walls’ bid, Gloria Au paid $17,500 to do the same for a Select Roses hybrid she has still to name.
LEMON’S ZEST: Ontario-raised architect Robert Lemon recently celebrated his 40th year in Vancouver by hosting a garden party at Shannon, the Granville-at-55th mansion he’s helped restore for two decades. Sugar tycoon B.T. Rogers built the 30,000-square-foot edifice but died before its 1925 completion. Finance and mining tycoon Austin Taylor acquired it in 1935. Developers Peter Wall and Peter Redekop paid a now-pocket-change $750,000 for the mansion and its four-hectare property in 1967. Wall has since built many condos there.
Photos from the Gudewill family’s collection helped Lemon recreate century-past wallpaper, millwork, chandeliers and suchlike. Those features were appraised and appreciated when a deluge squeezed Lemon’s garden party guests indoors for drinks and a recital by University of B.C. School of Music students Jonathan Lopez, Markus Masaites and Nina Weber. Rather than the 1937 hit September In The Rain, the Genesis Trio members performed works by Beethoven, Bruch and Rachmaninoff that likely pleased other Shannon audiences 94 years ago.
CUTTING A RUG: Lemon’s guest Larry Killam pointed to a 1930 photo of Shannon’s great-hall carpet and said: “That’s in my living room.” Killam bought it at auction in the late 1960s when he and three co-developers were reviving a downtown district they named Gastown. Far older than the rug or even pioneer-era Vancouver, Killam and wife Sherry’s Southlands home is built around the framework of a 17th century British barn they bought and erected here, albeit without its straw floor covering.
TIME TO LIVE: The recent 15th-annual Gift of Time gala needed very little time to reportedly raise a record $1,530,000 gift for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Second-time co-chair, realtor Karley Rice, had Aritzia executive VP Pippa Morgan and Primex Investments VP Lee Rennison join her to help raise that sum and bring the all-time haul to a reported $13.5 million. Founded in 1995, Canuck Place has nine patient beds and four family suites at its original Shaughnessy location, and nine beds and five suites at the recently commissioned Dave Lede House satellite in Abbotsford.
PARRYNOIA: Unlike the long-ago Russians who sought him as tsar, today’s Britons may not find Boris Godunov.
DON’T BE DUMB: Lake Cowichan-raised Stephanie Nielson didn’t spare potential readers’ sensitivities when titling her dating guidebook Don’t Be A Dumbass: The Every Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl. Along with stern advice about personal hygiene and being a know-it-all, it ends with the assertion that those who settle for less than they desire end up with exactly what they deserve. Now a divorced mother of two, Nielson expects a Tinder-introduced fellow to end her own “100 dating disasters” by producing a ring this fall. Asked if that might entail living together, Nielsen gave the best — or worst — advice of all: “Not until we’re married.”
THE GANJA GANG: New-era dope dealers congregated in Elevator communications firm owner Bob Stamnes’ Mount Pleasant building recently. Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers (ACCRES) president Jeremy Jacobs welcomed them. He and Stamnes also launched a Vancouver-based cannabis consultancy named Counsel 45 that Stamnes, alluding to a multinational professional-services network, called “the Deloitte of cannabis.” As youngish retailers made merry, it was ironic to recall that some of their same-age forebears were jailed for selling, or even possessing, joints on similar city streets.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: As well as having greenhorns and greybeards spout purple prose, ever-colourful Ottawa gave us a blue blood in blackface and caught another red-handed.
ENCORE: Fancy having the Nickelback band and signers Barney Bentall, Jim Cuddy, Shawn Hook and Stephen Kellogg perform at your Gleneagles waterfront home. That happened when the Obakki clothing line owner, Treana Peake, staged the second annual White Envelope fundraiser at her, spouse Ryan and neighbour Judith Stewart’s estate-style properties. Ryan is a Nickelback band member. The event reportedly raised $400,000 to help sustain the Obakki Foundation’s educational, clean-water and other sustainable projects in South Sudan and nearby nations. Treana welcomed former South Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal who is now a Toronto-based singer, screen actor (The Good Lie), political activist and leadership lecturer. His maxim: “Turn your eyes inside yourself and, as you change, saturate yourself with information that can enhance your new skills.”
REVVED UP: The recent 10th annual Luxury & Supercar Weekend brought more exotic vehicles than ever to VanDusen Botanical Garden. As usual, a previous-evening reception filled Niels and Nancy Bendtsen’s Inform Interiors store.
Cars inside included the show’s darling, a battery-powered 1,900-horsepower Pininfarina Battista costing around $3.5 million. That would get you a tasty West Vancouver home or, to those fully exploiting the Battista’s mojo, perhaps a visit to crowbar hotel. On the Inform store’s Water Street sidewalk, a 720-horsepower McLaren 720S Coupe was tagged at $401,910. The sky-blue coupe complemented L&S Weekend co-principal Nadia Iadisernia’s Ferrari-red Diane von Furstenberg dress and Ferragamo heels that together cost less than the $1,460 needed for the McLaren’s optional coloured brake calipers.
FANCY DANNY: Parked beside swanky-panky dreamboats on the VanDusen lawn, an Ontario-built Pontiac Acadian cost maybe $3,000 in 1964. Today, having gained a 10.3-litre, twin-turbo engine developing 2,510 horsepower, it could be worth $1 million. That said, not much, if anything, remains of the ho-hum two-door sedan that Victoria-based Danny Jadresko bought in 1983. He and bride Sandy later honeymooned in it. With son Cody, and aided by Quebec-based custom-car builder J.F. Launier, the Jadreskos spent 18 years developing the Acadian into a “street outlaw” that can blow the doors of most European exotics. Meanwhile, their W&J Construction and Woodsmere Holdings firms opened the doors to thousands of single- and multi-unit homes they’d built, including 600 units in Langford that rent for $800 to $1,200 monthly.
HOMEWORK: For the principal of Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Secondary, David Starr, it entails writing books. His refugee-themed debut work, From Bombs to Books, and its seven successors were aimed at young readers. The latest, Like Joyful Tears, “is my first big-boy book,” Starr said. It has a Canadian woman help a South Sudanese massacre survivor relocate to Canada. Starr’s novel was aided by his own dealings with refugees, and polished by editor-wife Sharon, who is vice-principal at Port Moody Secondary. Partial royalties from it benefit the Obakki Foundation.
BREATH AND LIFE: At the Vancouver Playhouse recently, Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji screened, 65_RedRoses, their 2009 film about since-deceased cystic fibrosis patient Eva Markvoort. The fundraising event promoted CF awareness and organ donation. Although the lauded movie wasn’t an Oscar contender, attendees Alison Snowden and David Fine won one for their animated short, Bob’s Birthday, and earned three other Oscar nominations. Like Markvoort, Snowden received donated lungs, but survived. After a virus destroyed her own, Snowden was put into an induced coma for a month and deemed to be too weak for transplant surgery. Business and personal partner Fine said “a breakthrough idea” entailed awakening her and rebuilding strength during non-stop treatment by ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) heart-lung-bypass technology. It worked. Donated lungs arrived, Dr. John Yee undertook the surgery, and Fine and the recovering Snowden completed another Oscar-nominated short, Animal Behaviour. Snowden’s proposed acceptance speech at the February, 2019 Academy Awards ceremony would have praised VGH, her surgical team and Canadian medicine generally. However, the award went to Toronto director-writer Domee Shi’s Bao.
BRAVO: The effectiveness of the 16-year-old VSO School of Music was clear when four students performed at Ronald McDonald House recently. Sequoia String Quartet violinists Catherine Teng, 16, and Kai Chow, 15, violist Davin Mar, 14, and cellist David Han, 13, played works by Handel, Mozart, Vivaldi and others, with intelligence, clarity and youthful confidence.
FOOTBALL FAME: B.C. Lions fans still sang “Roar, you Lions, roar” in 2003 when Pasquale “Wally” Buono left the Calgary Stampeders to be the local team’s head coach. Roar they did, through five West Division championships, two Grey Cup wins and one loss (2004 to the Toronto Argonauts). After retiring in 2018, Potenza-born Buono will be inducted into the Italian Cultural Centre’s Hall of Fame Oct. 4 and possibly called “the pride of all B.C.”
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: As we consider electing more parliamentarians with no more authority than pets on a leash, a Scottish high court judge has ruled that parliament’s role in scrutinizing the government is a central pillar of the UK’s constitution, which follows naturally from the principles of democracy and the rule of law.
GOING DUTCH: Last year, Netherlands native Otto Tausk succeeded British-born Bramwell Tovey as Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s music director. Then, as what the Dutch might call tit voor tat, Nederlands Dans Theater snagged Regina-born Ballet B.C.’s artistic director, Emily Molnar, to lead its 27- and 18-dancer companies. Former Ballet B.C. dancer Molnar has steered the once-moribund company through a decade of break-even-or-better seasons to critical acclaim here and on national and international tours. Addressing dancers, staff, board members and supporters recently, she said: “What we have done together is remarkable.” Then, to rueful smiles all around, “It doesn’t happen easily.” Encouragingly, though, dancers “now have more opportunities to stay at home with full-time or almost full-time work.”
MORE GLOBALISM: Finland native Kari Turunen has succeeded Vancouver Chamber Choir’s Illinois-born founder and 47-year artistic director, Jon Washburn.
SCHOOLS IN: Fairchild Group chairman Thomas Fung and actress-wife Amy usually draw business, professional, political and cultural guests to their annual garden party. This year, with son Joseph having founded the Fairchild Junior Academy in Hong Kong, local educational-facility top brass shared the lawn. They were University of B.C. and Simon Fraser University presidents Santa Ono and Andrew Petter, St. George’s Senior School headmaster Tom Matthews, York House school head Julie Rousseau, and West Point Grey Junior School head Ciara Corcoran. An after-supper singalong fronted by host-guitarist Fung could have been, but wasn’t, conducted by UBC grad Ken Hsieh. Edmonton-born Hsieh founded the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra in 2003 and has been music director ever since with no successor even contemplated.
THE YOGI BERA AWARD: Goes to industrial safety trainer Chris Samson for his August quote: “I’m all for taking risks, so long as it’s done safely.” B.C. transportation minister Claire Trevena is runner-up for: “I think it’s very good to have a regulated market in the way that we have a regulated market.”
THEY’RE LOVIN’ ’EM: Ryan and Nicole Stark were heartbroken in May, 2018, when four-month-old daughter Hadley died. So were staff at 73-bedroom Ronald McDonald House where the Fort St. John family lived while B.C. Children’s Hospital staff fought to save Hadley. Spirits soared this July when three-month resident Nicole delivered daughter Clara along with sons Sawyer and Soren. “Families want normalcy,” said CEO Richard Pass while welcoming the triplets at an RMH donor reception. “That means more stay-together programs for whole families.” The record stay there is 497 days.
BEEP: Phone messages for classic-car minder Vern Bethel are answered promptly. Ones for daughter Pamela can end up on stage. Umpteen 1990s calls to and responses from then-teenaged Bethel constitute her lauded 2017 show, After The Beep, playing the Vancouver Fringe Festival’s The Nest theatre to Sept. 14. Those dialing 250-885-1285 might even hear themselves in a sequel.
THEY’RE ON: Whatever their luck with horse-race bets, Deighton Cup organizers Dax Droski, Jordan Kalman and Tyson Villeneuve sure pick winning weather. Sunshine bathed Hastings Racecourse when their 11th annual event’s record crowd of nattily attired younger folk enjoyed music, food, champagne, cigars and even some betting. Mile’s End Motors dealer David Bentil’s usual pavilion and tree-shaded compound had guests loll alongside such exotic jalopies as a 2017 Ferrari F12 TDF worth $1.5 million. Quite a change from the vacuum cleaners Bentil sold door-to-door along and near his native East London’s Mile End Road.
R.I.P.: Former Sun editor-restaurant reviewer Alex MacGillivray died recently — no funeral by request — but his name lives on via actress-daughter Caroline who founded non-profit BeautyNight (beautynight.org) in 2000 and has helped endless marginalized women gain confidence, integration and contact-making skills.
BREATH OF LIFE: Guest John Yee wasn’t whisked away from the Fungs’ party to perform another of the 60 double-lung-transplant surgeries he’s undertaken yearly on six hours’ notice. The Sun’s Pamela Fayerman reported that Vancouver General Hospital’s new vivo lung perfusion process allows more precious time to assess donor organs. Dr. Yee still laments cystic-fibrosis patient Eva Markvoort who, despite such surgery, succumbed at age 23 in 2010. Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji’s documentary about Markvoort, 65 RedRoses (that’s how many youngsters pronounce “cystic fibrosis”), will screen at a Vancouver Playhouse gala Sept. 8 to help fund CF research and encourage organ donation.
HAPPY FIFTEENTH: To the Belgian-themed Chambar Restaurant Karri and Nico Schuermans opened on Beatty Street and moved next door in 2014. Also to seafood-themed Coast, which Glowbal Restaurant Group president-CEO Emad Yacoub located in Yaletown and upmarketed to Alberni Street in 2009. Chambar recently staged a dinner by five female chefs and same-gender Vancouver Community College students to help fund scholarships. Its anniversary highlight will be an all-invited block party’s pig roast and waffle fest on Sept. 8.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Late French president Charles de Gaulle, whose vetoes made petitioning Britons wait 12 years to join what is now the European Union, might relish their current opera bouffe to get out.
Bard on the Beach Festival This annual celebration of The Bard is back, celebrating 30 years with four productions on two stages, plus a host of special events. This years shows include: The Taming of the Shrew, until Sept. 21: The 2007 ‘spaghetti western’ version of show – one of Bard’s most beloved productions – is the inspiration behind this hilarious Wild-West love story, where two fierce kindred spirits finally meet their match in each other. • Shakespeare in Love, June 12-Sept. 18: Young Will Shakespeare has writer’s block. The deadline for his new play is looming and he’s in desperate need of inspiration. And then he finds his muse – Viola. She’s Will’s greatest admirer and will stop at nothing (including breaking the law) to appear in his next play. Will’s love for Viola quickly blossoms but their road to romance runs into plenty of speed bumps. • All’s Well That Ends Well, June 26-Aug. 11: This new, bold staging is set in India during the waning days of British occupation and the cusp of Indian independence. Helena, a privileged young Indian woman, secretly loves Bertram, an officer in the British Army. Cultural, social and political barriers stand between them. But Helena doesn’t give up, and her journey takes her into the heart of her own culture and identity. • Coriolanus, Aug. 21-Sept 15: Political warfare – and war within a family – drive Shakespeare’s compelling story of the ruthless fighter, Coriolanus, as she fights for honour without compromise. The themes of pride and arrogance are at its core, as Coriolanus examines what it means to be loyal to a parent, to a leader and to a country. • Bard Village, Vanier Park • 604-739-0559, bardonthebeach.org
Fraser Valley Children’s Festival: Fairy Tales Bring out your fairy’s, dragons and fairy tale characters for the 23rd Annual Children’s Festival with arts and crafts, music workshops, entertainment and much more for the young and young at heart. • Fraser River Heritage Park, Mission • June 9, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. • Free admission, mission.ca
Italian Day on The Drive A vibrant cultural street festival celebrating Italian culture, heritage and community. The Drive comes alive in green, white and red with piazza-style animated zones, live music, food vendors, patios, lifestyle attractions, fun family activities and more. • Commercial Drive, June 9, noon-8 p.m. • Free, italianday.ca/
5X A South Asian millennial festival showcasing the best of music, art, film and fashion. This multi-day, multi-genre event celebrates creativity through art, fashion, live music, club nights, film, and a block party, plus a conference to build connections and capacity in our communities. • June 12-16, 5xfest.com
2019 Festival d’été francophone de Vancouver One of Western Canada’s biggest celebrations of Francophone music and culture. • June 13-23 • lecentreculturel.com
88th B.C. Highland Games & Scottish Festival Wear your kilts, plaids and tartans and enjoy two days of piping, live Celtic music, free entertainment, competitions, kid’s activities, a whisky school, vendors, food, massed pipe bands and a few surprises. • Lafarge Lake Park, 1290 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam • June 14 and 15 • $15, bchighlandgames.com
20th Annual Surrey Fest Downtown As many as 4,000 people visit this festival each year to view the exhibits and enjoy food and live entertainment. • Holland Park, 13428 Old Yale Rd., Surrey • June 15, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. • surreyfest.com/
Breakout Festival 2019 Canada’s only all hip-hop outdoor music festival. Price of admission includes ride pass to Playland. • PNE Amphitheatre • June 15 and 16, 3 p.m. • Single day tickets: $99-$149, two-day tickets: $189-$269, breakout-festival.com
Car Free Day Vancouver Car Free Day celebrates the vibrancy of Vancouver’s diverse neighbourhoods by organizing a multi-site annual arts and culture festival that reclaims traffic thoroughfares as community focused public spaces. Artists, local residents, performers, artisans, non-profits, and businesses re-imagine spaces normally reserved for vehicle traffic. • West End, June 15, noon-7 p.m., Denman Street from Davie to Robson • Main Street, June 16, noon-7 p.m., Main Street from Broadway to 30th Avenue • The Drive, July 7, noon-7 p.m. Commercial Drive from Venables to N. Grandview. • Free, carfreevancouver.org
Croatia Days 2019 Celebrate one of the most vibrant communities in the Lower Mainland! Enjoy live entertainment, folk dancing, music, choir performances, a children’s play area, futsal, video entertainment, a variety of fresh food, video entertainment and a beer garden. • Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Dr. • June 15, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. • Free admission, 604-879-0154, croatianculturalcentre.com
Gathering Festival Celebration in the Park Following four weeks of festival programming for Vancouver’s inner-city community, the festival wraps up with a free all-day event featuring two stages, arts, crafts, community booths and family activities, including a headline performance by Canadian power-pop legends Odds. • Emery Barnes Park, Davie & Seymour Streets • June 15, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. • Free, gatheringfestival.wordpress.com
Hillcrest Summer Festival Enjoy amusement rides, inflatables, games, activities, stage performances, a vintage car show and entertainment such as face painting, balloon art and musical performances. (In event of rain the event will take place at the Vancouver Curling Club, 4575 Clancy Loranger Way). • Riley Park, 50 E. 30th Ave. • June 15, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. • Free, 604-718-5885, hillcrestcommunitycentre.com
Langley: 25th Annual Community Day This year the event will feature two stages, a food truck festival, beer garden, a kids and youth zone, fire rescue kids challenge, marketplace community organizations, and more. • Douglas Park, 20550 Douglas Crescent., Langley • June 15, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. • Free, 604-514-2940, langleycity.ca
Pacific Rim Kite Festival This colourful annual extravaganza transforms Garry Point Park into two wind-whipped days of demos, kite battles, and individual and team flying shows. • Garry Point Park, Richmond • June 15 and 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. • bcka.bc.ca
Queer Arts Festival The Vancouver Queer Arts Festival is recognized as one of the top five festivals of its kind in the world (Melbourne Herald Star). This year’s theme rEvolution gathers together artists who dissemble, push and transgress; art as the evolution of the revolution and will tie together nearly 100 artists and more than 20 events and programming including receptions, curated visual art exhibition, performing arts series, workshops, artist talks, panels, and screenings, parties and more! • Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews • June 17-28 • queerartsfestival.com
Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival North America’s flagship dragon boat festival returns to Vancouver. Kick off summer with three days of some of the continent’s best dragon boat racing, headliner music shows, cultural installations, interactive performances, local artisans and shopping, food, and family-friendly activities. • Concord Pacific Place, Creekside Park, and the waters of False Creek, 1455 Quebec St. • June 21-23 • Free, concorddragonboatfestival.ca
Point Grey Fiesta West 10th Avenue and Trimble Park are turned into a start-of-summer neighbourhood celebration with a parade followed by amateur stage performances, exhibitors, vendors and the only carnival in a Metro Vancouver park. The festivities kick off Friday afternoon with bike decorating at 4502 West 10th Avenue, and carnival rides start as soon as school is out at 3 p.m. in Trimble Park. Led by Fiesta’s mascot, Ole the Bull will start the Saturday morning parade at 10 a.m. Activities in Trimble Park include local businesses and artisans exhibiting and a variety of acts performing on stage. Carnival games and rides run until Sunday afternoon, and as a homage to Father’s Day, dads ride free with a child all day Sunday. • June 21-23 • Free, pointgreyfiesta.org/
TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival One of the largest jazz gatherings in Canada brings together jazz legends, emerging musicians and contemporary visionaries from different countries. This year’s featured events include performances by Wu-Tang Clan, The Roots, and Herbie Hancock. • June 21 until July 1 • coastaljazz.ca/
24th annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival Celebrate Midsummer with Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. There will be cultural displays, along with artisans, events for all ages and the best of Scandinavian foods. • Scandinavian Community Centre, 6540 Thomas St., Burnaby • June 22 and 23 • $10/adult, under 16/free, scandinavianmidsummerfestival.com
Cultus Lake Day Kick the day off with Pancake Breakfast by donation at Cultus Lake Fire Hall, followed by a parade, an artisan market, food vendors, activities and more, all wrapping up with a fireworks show at 10 p.m. • Cultus Lake Park, 4165 Columbia Valley Hwy., Cultus Lake • June 22, 8:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. • Free admission, cultuslake.bc.ca
Driediger Farms 6th Annual Strawberry Festival Whether you are in the market for B.C.’s best berries, delicious artisan foods or a day in the sunshine with your family, this is the event for you. Shop local brands and eat local food! • Driediger Farms Market, 23823 72nd Ave., Langley • June 22, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. •facebook.com
East Side Pride Celebrate Pride on the East Side! Throw down a picnic blanket and take in an array of diverse performances, visit the Community Market with over 30 vendors and community partners, and grab a bite to eat at a food truck. • Grandview Park, Commercial Drive • June 22, noon • Free, vancouverpride.ca
Lynn Valley Day The day starts with pancake breakfast (8:15-9:45 a.m.) followed by a local parade and a full day of family fun. Highlights include games, inflatables, Maypole dancing, face painters, live entertainment, food and a beer garden. • Lynn Valley Park, 3590 Mountain Hwy., North Van • June 22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. • Free, lvlions.com
McBurney Plaza Summer Series McBurney Plaza Summer Series will be filled with live entertainment, fun activities and amazing give-aways. • June 22, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Kick off summer with live music by Side One Band, backyard games and gourmet ice pops. • July 13, 6-10 p.m.: Enjoy an evening of live entertainment, local craft beer and wine, and delicious street food. Enjoy entertaining opening acts and an all request Dueling Piano Show. (Dueling Pianos in the Plaza is a 19+, adult only event). • July 20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Downtown Langley will be the hub for celebrity spotting as we welcome a lineup of talented Legend impersonators to perform live. Enjoy popcorn as you watch the show, plus a paparazzi photobooth and face painting. • Aug. 10, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Prepare to be amazed! A unique and talented line up of magicians are ready to entertain you with live shows and roving magic. Enjoy magical balloon twisting, cotton candy and activities. • McBurney Plaza, 20518 Fraser Hwy., Langley • June 22 until Aug. 10 • Free, downtownlangley.com
National Indigenous Peoples Day: Langley The Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society invites you to come out and celebrate their unique heritage, diverse culture and many aboriginal achievements. • Douglas Park, 20550 Douglas Crescent, Langley • June 22, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. • Free, langleycity.ca
Strawberry Festival Enjoy a celebration of summer days with the West End Community. Presented by the West End Seniors Network, this event will feature local vendors, community organizations, food, music, activities, free horse carriage rides and the best strawberry shortcakes in town! • Barclay Heritage Square, 1433 Barclay St. • June 22, 1-4 p.m. • Free, 604-669-5051, wesn.ca
Greek Day on Broadway Live a day the Greek way and immerse yourself in a world of delicious Greek food and drink, market vendors, entertainment, and live music. • West Broadway from MacDonald to Blenheim • June 23, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. • Free admission, greekday.com/
Golden Spike Days Festival One of the oldest and longest running family events in B.C. this annual event features live entertainment, including headline performances by Big Sugar, Harlequin and Prism; plus special events; food and activities for all ages. The event commemorates the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway line and its arrival at the original Western terminus in Port Moody where the last spike was driven. • Rocky Point Park, 2800 Murray St., Port Moody • June 28 until July 1 • Admission by donation, goldenspike.ca/
Vancouver International Guitar Festival Join guitar builders, players, collectors and aficionados for live music, master classes, special events, and the opportunity to see, hear and play some of the world’s finest handmade stringed instruments. • Creekside Community Centre, 1 Athletes Way • June 29-30 • vancouverguitarfestival.com/
Evo Summer Cinema Series Enjoy an outdoor screening of your favourite films on the four-storey inflatable movie screen. Come early to enjoy lots of fun pre-show activities including games, giveaways and prizes, and grab some delicious bits at one of the food trucks. games, prizes, and giveaways, as well as the weekly offering of food truck fare and classic movie treats. This year’s film lineup includes: Wayne’s World, July 2, 9 p.m. | Beetlejuice,July 9, 9 p.m. | Shrek,July 16, 9 p.m. | Sleepless in Seattle,July 23, 8:30 p.m. | Moulin Rouge, July 30, 8:30 p.m. | Finding Nemo, Aug. 6, 8:30 p.m. | Harry Potter 3, Aug. 13, 8:30 p.m. | Jurassic Park, Aug. 20, 8 p.m. • Grand Lawn at Ceperley Meadows, Second Beach • Lawn seating if free, VIP reserved tickets available for a fee, eventbrite.ca
9th annual Indian Summer Festival Bringing locally and internationally renowned artists to venues across the city with the provocative theme of Tricksters, Magicians, and Oracles; the 2019 festival lineup features futurists, novelists, stand-up comedians, musicians and storytellers from around the world. Highlights include: July 4: Indian Summer Festival Opening Party • July 5: International speakers series 5×15 • July 6: Conjuring the Future – a galaxy of potent musical voices from across Canada • July 7: Pico Iyer on Life, Love and Mortality. Writer, world-traveller and TED sensation Pico Iyer has spent his life answering the great questions of humankind • July 8-14: PAUSE Free Programming • July 12:Amjad Ali Khan & Sons with Sharon Isbin: Strings for Peace • July 4-14, indiansummerfest.ca
The Dancing on the Edge Festival Canada’s longest running festival of contemporary dance is an eagerly anticipated highlight of the Lower Mainland’s dance season. This year’s DOTE presents extraordinary dance productions from Canada, Brazil and Korea, offering high calibre, challenging and gorgeous dance. The innovative and spell-binding work features World Premieres, North American and Western Canadian debuts, and works-in-progress from some of the most sought-after contemporary choreographers. • July 4-13, dancingontheedge.org/
Vancouver Greek Summerfest This annual celebration of food, entertainment, and family fun features the famous barbecued lamb and Loukoumades, as well as hundreds of live singers and dancers on the Performance Stage. • 4641 Boundary Rd., July 4-14 • Free admission, vancouvergreeksummerfest.com/
Burnaby Arts Council: Summer Arts Festival An outdoor festival celebrating summer, this fun and engaging event offers thrills, excitement and culture! The festival showcases local artists competing in a live art tournament, a variety of entertainment, artists and artisans and much more. • Outdoor event at Deer Lake Gallery, 6584 Deer Lake Ave., Burnaby • July 5 and 6 • 604-298-7322, burnabyartscouncil.org
Cinema Under the Stars Start your weekend off with a Friday night experience at Cinema Under the Stars! Leigh Square will showcase recent movies on their enormous, 26-foot tall silver screen at Sun Valley and Gates parks. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, round up some friends and bring the whole family. • July 5, 9 p.m. at Gates Park: Mary Poppins Returns • July 19, 9 p.m. at Sun Valley Park: The Hidden World • Aug. 2, 8:45 p.m. at Gates Park: Ralph Breaks the Internet • Aug. 16, 8:45 p.m. at Sun Valley Park: Avengers: Endgame • Various venues, Port Coquitlam • July 5 until Aug. 16 • Free, in the event of rain, movie will be moved to the next available Friday. Movie subject to change so check for updates on the city website or call 604-927-8400 for confirmation., portcoquitlam.ca
Theatre Under the Stars: Mamma Mia! and Disney’s Newsies Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) invites audiences to a summer of inspiration with Mamma Mia! and Disney’s Newsies, running alternate evenings from July 5–August 17. A beloved Vancouver tradition since 1940, TUTS’ 2019 season offers two exuberant musicals: one that tells the lighthearted tale of a mother and a daughter who embark on a hilarious quest to discover the identity of the daughter’s true father; the other shares the stirring account of a ragged band of newspaper boys in 1899 in New York City who strike for fair pay and humane working conditions. • Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park • 604-631-2877, tuts.ca
Whistler Children’s Festival Fuelled by imagination, creativity and giggles, the Whistler Children’s Festival is the resort’s longest-running event, now in its 36th year. • July 5-7, whistlerchildrensfestival.com
10th Carnaval del Sol The biggest Latin festival in the Pacific Northwest, featuring two days of live music, art, dance, sports, and poetry in celebration of Latin American Culture. Carnaval del Sol, recreates the atmosphere of a vibrant city plaza in Latin America. The arts showcased during this event include live musical bands, Native Canadian and Latin American visual art, traditional folk dances from different countries, arts and crafts displays, dancing and culinary lessons and a Latin American inspired fashion show. • Concord Pacific Place, 88 Pacific Boulevard • July 6 and 7 • carnavaldelsol.ca
Khatsahlano Street Party Ten blocks of amazing music, merchants, food and fun, including performances by Hey Ocean!, The Boom Booms, Harlequin Gold, and many others. • West 4th Avenue from Burrard to MacDonald • July 6, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. • Free admission, khatsahlano.com
7th Annual Summer Repertory Festival An uplifting comedy set in a doughnut shop, a classic political satire for the age of Trump and a celebration of the power of storytelling make this year’s Annual Summer Repertory Festival from Ensemble Theatre Company one of its most thrilling yet. Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts, Garson Kanin’s Born Yesterday, and Michael Healey’s The Drawer Boy and brought to life by Ensemble’s talented group of actors, directors, and designers. • Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery St. • July 10 until Aug. 16 • From $25, Festival Pass: $88, ensembletheatrecompany.ca
Harrison Festival of the Arts From the world stage to local artists there’s something for everyone at this annual 10-day festival. Other highlights include an Artisan Market, workshops and an art exhibit. • Harrison Hot Springs, July 12-21 • harrisonfestival.com
Punk In Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival This outdoor festival features craft beer and punk rock performances by NOFX, Bad Religion, The Real McKenzies, Anti-Flag, Chixdiggit, and The Last Gang. • PNE Amphitheatre, July 13 • Passes start at $69.50, ticketleader.ca
Wind Festival for the Arts Paddle, play and soar at this free three-day art and music festival celebrating all things wind and water. From amazing workshops to local artists and live performances, to the biggest artisan market we have ever seen, this is the largest free festival in Squamish. • Downtown Squamish, July 18-20 • Free, squamishwindfestival.com
107th annual Aldergrove Fair Days One of B.C.’s best small-town fairs features world-class fun for the whole family. Highlights include musical performances including headliners Loverboy, a Show ‘n’ Shine Car Show, a chili cook-off and much more. • Aldergrove Athletic Park, July 19-21 • Admission by donation, 604-418-9507, aldergrovefair.ca
42nd annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival Explore an amazing array of artists gathered from around the world. This year’s festival includes performances by Sam Roberts Band, Corb Lund, Charlotte Day Wilson, The Hamiltones, Larkin Poe, Basia Bulat, and many others. Other festival highlights include an Artisan Market, Folk Bazaar and the Little Folks Village for kids under 12. • Jericho Beach Park, July 19-21 • thefestival.bc.ca/
Surrey Fusion Festival This two-day festival showcases and celebrates the cultural diversity of Surrey. The event brings together cultural and community groups from around the world, along with 150+ artists and performers. Live entertainment, food pavilions and interactive cultural activities will keep you busy throughout the weekend. • Holland Park, 13428 Old Yale Rd., Surrey • July 20 and July 21 • Free admission, surreyfusionfestival.ca
Squamish Constellation Festival This brand new festival features three days and nights of music, art, food and fun featuring two stages and more than 40 acts of multiple genres. Headliners include Jessie Reyez, Bahamas and Serena Ryder. • Hendrickson Field, Squamish • July 26-28 • constellationfest.ca/
Mission Folk Music Festival Staged in one of B.C.’s loveliest parks overlooking the Fraser River, the Mission Folk Music Festival is renowned for its mix of accessibility and easygoing comfort, affordability and small-town friendliness, and some of the finest folk, world, roots and blues music from across Canada and around the world. • Fraser River Heritage Park, Mission • July 26-28 • 604-309-6079, missionfolkmusicfestival.ca
Honda Celebration of Light For three action-packed days and mesmerizing nights, the Honda Celebration of Light brings people together for a musical fireworks competition. This year features competing teams from India (July 27), Canada (July 31), and Croatia (Aug. 3). • English Bay, hondacelebrationoflight.com
Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest North America’s largest one-day Food Truck Festival features food trucks, beer gardens, live music and much more. • Columbia Street, downtown New Westminster • July 27, 4-10 p.m. • Free admission, downtownnewwest.ca
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Country Fest Enjoy 4H livestock shows, horse shows, home arts and gardening competitions, and backyard farming demonstrations. The daily entertainment includes live music, multicultural/community acts, roving entertainers and much more. • Albion Fairgrounds, 23448 Jim Robson Way, Maple Ridge • July 27 and July 28 • Free admission, mrpmcountryfest.com
Punch Bowl: Festival of Cocktails Join more than 50 vendors sampling their finest summer spirits, beer and cider cocktail creations, plus live music and a barbecue. • PNE Fairgrounds • July 27, noon-3:30 p.m. or 5-8:30 p.m. • punchbowlfest.com/
Richmond Maritime Festival Landlubbers and sea-goers of all ages will enjoy activities that delight one and all. Discover local lore, visit beautiful wooden boats, create works of art, bring your picnic blanket and enjoy the tasty treats. Take in music, painters, potters, stilt performers, puppets, story tellers and much more! • Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, 5180 Westwater Dr., Steveston • July 27 and July 28 • Free admission, richmondmaritimefestival.ca/
Caribbean Days Get ready to soak up some tropical rhythm, culture and food at one of the largest cultural events in B.C. Kick off the day at the Multicultural Street Parade, followed by a day of live entertainment, an international food fair, a craft market and a family zone with face painting and other activities. • Waterfront Park, North Van • July 27 and July 28 • caribbeandays.ca
South Surrey Festival A fun, family friendly event that offers safe, creative and inclusive activities for the whole community. Join us for a variety of activities and attractions like stage entertainment, face painting, crafts and games, artisans and vendors, food trucks and more. • South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre, 14601 20th Ave., Surrey • July 27, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. • Free, 604-592-6970, surrey.ca
Vancouver Bach Festival The Vancouver Bach Festival is one of the largest festivals of its type in North America, featuring a superb series of concerts with guest artists from all over the world. Concerts are held downtown at Christ Church Cathedral and at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on the UBC campus. • July 30 until Aug. 9 • earlymusic.bc.ca
62nd annual Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival Five days full of fun, excitement, action, and entertainment for the whole family. There is music, children’s activities, a kettle boil, a parade, wacky bed races, chainsaw chair carving, an 8km run, pancake breakfast, two world class Loggers Sports Shows, and so much more. • Al McIntosh Loggers Sports Grounds, 39555 Loggers Lane, Squamish • Aug. 1-5 • squamishdays.ca
Chilliwack Sunflower Festival Features more than three acres planted in the giant Mammoth sunflower that can reach heights of 12 feet and taller. There will also be 1.5 acres planted in a cut flower orange variety which will reach heights between five and six feet. The fields are completed with an acre of show garden featuring 15 different varieties of different heights, colours and bloom sizes for guests to enjoy. • 41310 Yale Rd., Chilliwack • Aug. 1 • chilliwacksunflowerfest.com
Rockin’ River Music Fest An impressive lineup of distinguished country music alumni featuring Jason Aldean, Old Dominion, Brothers Osborne, Maren Morris, Kane Brown and Brett Kissel. Over 30 acts performing across multiple stages as well as an expanded Party Zone, increased riverside and XL campsites, free-flow party patios, and more onsite amenities including food options, bars, and bathrooms. A new Entertainment District will be located in the Chattahoochee campground featuring added music, breakfast options, and late-night entertainment. • Merritt Festival Show Site, Neilson Street, Merritt • Aug. 1-4 • 4-day pass: $275-$425; 1-day pass: $60-$200 at rockinriverfest.com/tickets, rockinriverfest.com
Vancouver Mural Festival The city’s largest annual free public art celebration brings artists and murals to Mount Pleasant and Strathcona, as well as a week of events including the Strathcona Street Party. • Aug. 1-10 • Free, vanmuralfest.ca
Wanderlust This festival brings together a remarkable group of yoga and meditation instructors, musical performers, speakers, artists and chefs for a transformational retreat. Choose your own adventure with multi-level yoga and meditation sessions, mouth-watering organic foods, heart-pumping music, inspiring lectures and workshops, and boundary-pushing outdoor activities. Find your true north. • Whistler • Aug. 1-4 • wanderlust.com
29th annual Harmony Arts Festival The District of West Vancouver celebrates summer with free concerts, signature culinary events, movie nights, children’s programming, art markets, an Indigenous Showcase and more. This annual festival features 10 days of events and activities designed to showcase arts and culture and celebrate summer on the North Shore. An extensive array of programming includes more than 50 free live musical performances and concerts on two stages, art markets, al fresco culinary experiences on the waterfront, art demonstrations, talks, and exhibits, outdoor cinema nights in the park, fun activities and interactive art experiences for kids. • West Vancouver’s waterfront, between 14th Street and 16th Street on Argyle Avenue, West Van • Aug. 2-11 • Free admission, harmonyarts.ca/
Abbotsford Agrifair The 109th annual Abbotsford Agrifair is set to return for another weekend of summertime fun in the country. Returning this year will be the popular midway rides, the Demolition Derby, the Laughing Logger Show, 4-H shows, the Country Horse Classic, the Global FMX Motorcross Show, Cannon Top Gun Logger Competition, the pig and duck races, nightly concerts and roving entertainers. New events include a Pirate Ship Show, a Tank car-crush event, a Tractor/Truck Pull Show, Yule Kids and so much more! • Abbotsford Exhibition Park, 32470 Haida Dr., Abbotsford • Aug. 2-4 • agrifair.ca
Tsawwasen Sun Festival A three-day celebration of fun in the sun, jam packed with special events, games, friendly competitions and many other attractions. There’s antique hunting and skateboarding at the South Delta Recreation Centre and BINGO at KinVillage, while the bulk of the events take place at Winskill Park. The pride of the event is the annual Rotary Parade which heads down 56th Street from 16th Avenue to Winskill Park. • Tsawwassen • Aug. 2-5 • sunfestival.ca
19th annual Caribbean Festival There is no shortage of reggae, ska, Soca and Cuban Salsa performances at this annual festival celebrating Caribbean culture. Enjoy two large stages offering continuous music, a wide variety of food vendors offering authentic Caribbean foods, street vendors and a large Kid Zone. • Albion Fairgrounds, Maple Ridge • Aug. 3 and 4 • 604-467-5535, caribbeanfest.ca
43rd annual Powell Street Festival The largest Japanese Canadian festival in the country returns for its 43rd year. This year’s lineup of performers includes a wide variety of local and international talent. Enjoy stage performances, music, visual art exhibits, literary events, interactive installations, children’s activities, a craft market, martial arts demonstrations, amateur sumo tournament, historical walking tours, tea ceremonies, ikebana and bonsai demonstrations, and delicious Japanese cuisine. • Oppenheimer Park and surrounding areas, 400 block of Powell St. • Aug. 3 and 4 • Free, powellstreetfestival.com
Brigade Days Explore the encampment of re-enactors showcasing the Hudson’s Bay Company era as they swap stories, play music, and show off traditional skills. Don’t miss the Arrival of the Fur Brigades canoe re-enactment at the river at 1 p.m. on Monday. • Fort Langley National Historic Site, 23433 Mavis Ave., Fort Langley • Aug. 3-5 • Regular admission applies, 604-513-4777, pc.gc.ca
Pride Parade & Festival The three-hour parade route features approximately 150 entries offering non-stop entertainment. Enjoy floats, marching groups, dancers, community groups and performances. Immediately following the parade is the Sunset Beach Festival – a jubilant event featuring live music, beer gardens, vendor booths and more. • Starts at Robson & Thurlow, continues through the West End, finishing at the Sunset Beach Festival site • Aug. 4, starts at noon • Free, vancouverpride.ca
Anirevo: Summer 2019 Celebrate anime and Japanese pop culture in the heart of downtown. Join us this summer as we bring you even more amazing surprises and boatloads of memories! Highlights include cosplay, voice actors, panels and the Exhibitor’s Hall. • Vancouver Convention Centre • Aug. 9-11 • summer.animerevolution.ca
The 147th Annual Chilliwack Fair This fair is the cornerstone of the summer event schedule in Chilliwack, where you can find family entertainment and friendly competition. The Fair’s widespread appeal makes for a truly community event, with attractions ranging from the crowd favourite BCRA Rodeo, the Laughing Logger shows, live music, pig racing and bouncy rides, to artist and cooking demonstrations, home and garden displays and a marketplace. • Heritage Park Chilliwack, 44140 Luckakuck Way, Aug. 9-11 • chilliwackfair.com
Abbotsford International Airshow Canada’s National Airshow features all kinds of vintage planes and military aircraft, static displays and lots of performers including the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. • Abbotsford International Airport, Aug. 9-11 • abbotsfordairshow.com
Burnaby Blues + Roots Festival 2019 Officially celebrating its 20th anniversary this family-friendly event returns to Deer Lake Park with performances by Feist, Lord Huron, Dan Mangan, The War and Treaty, William Prince, and Southern Avenue. • Festival Lawn at Deer Lake Park • Aug. 10, 1 p.m. • $60/$70, ticketmaster.ca, livenation.com
Clover Valley Beer Festival 40+ breweries, 80+ brews, live music, food trucks and a kick-ass time! Partial proceeds go towards Twins Cancer Fundraising. • Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre, 17728 64th Ave., Surrey • Aug. 10 • gibbonswhistler.com
Kaleidoscope Arts Festival With plenty to explore and site-wide beverage licensing, the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival will look and feel like an urban street festival. Includes performances by indie artists Current Swell, Royal Canoe and Terra Lightfoot. Try your hand at the arts, browse handcrafted wares in the artisan market, watch performing artists Blink Acro, Disco Funeral, Hip Hop Hoop, and visual artists Richard Tetrault and Sandeep Johal. Enjoy delicious food truck fare and sip craft beer and spirits. Music will fill the site, with DJ Emilita getting the festival vibe going at 2 p.m. and live concert performances hitting the TD Community Plaza stage starting at 4:30 p.m. • Town Centre Park, Coquitlam • Aug. 10, 2-9 p.m. • coquitlam.ca
RibFest Langley For three hot days and nights, Langley will host the summer party of the year! Join us at McLeod Park for live music, cold beverages, and delicious Southern-style barbecue ribs, pork, beef and chicken, plus fresh local corn and a full offering of entertainment. • McLeod Athletic Park, 56th Ave and 216th St., Langley • Aug. 16-18 • Free admission, ribfestlangley.com
Rock Ambleside This year’s classic rock festival will feature performances by Tom Cochrane with Red Rider, Honeymoon Suite, Quiet Riot, Blue Oyster Cult, Pat Travers, The Romantics, The Headpins, Streetheart, SAGA, Sass Jordan and David Wilcox. • Ambleside Park, West Van • Aug. 16-18 • rockamblesidepark.com
The Fair at the PNE One of B.C.’s most beloved summer events and an annual tradition for thousands of families across the province. Showcasing a diverse entertainment line-up, internationally acclaimed musical performances, and rides and attractions, this year’s Fair delivers another exciting line-up of new exhibits and top-tier entertainment. Highlight’s of this year’s Fair include Reveen: The Superconscious Experience, Knights of Valour, The SuperDogs and a new line-up for the Summer Night Concerts. • Renfrew and Hastings St. • Aug. 17 until Sept. 2, open 11 a.m. till late • pne.ca/fair/
Richmond Garlic Fest Highlights include fresh local garlic, garlicky delights from local restaurants, an expanded Farmers Market, live bird of prey flying demos, a Kid’s Zone with tons of farm & nature-themed activities, live music, farm tours, workshops and more. • Terra Nova Rural Park (The Sharing Farm), 2771 Westminster Highway, Richmond • Aug. 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. • By donation, 604-227-6210, richmondgarlicfest.com
Steveston Dragon Boat Festival Steveston comes alive for one of B.C.’s biggest dragon boat races and one of Richmond’s most popular community festivals. Enjoy dragon boat races, live music, vibrant visual arts, entertainment, children’s activities, and culinary offerings, while kicking back and enjoying a relaxing summer’s day by the water. • Britannia Heritage Shipyard to Imperial Landing in Steveston Village, Richmond • Aug. 24 • Free, stevestondragonboatfestival.ca
Deep Cove Daze This local community arts festival features entertainment on the waterfront, mainstage entertainment, a fun play zone for kids, a food court, a beer garden, an artisan/vendor alley, a sponsor area, and various events such as a kids parade, pie-eating contest, and a cardboard kayak contest. • Panorama Park, Deep Cove, North Van • Aug. 25-26 • Free, musart.ca/deep-cove-daze
Richmond World Festival Features more than 90 artists on nine stages including headliners K-pop star Verbal Jint, Tokyo Police Club and Dragonette. Other highlights include Your Kontinent Digital Carnival, more than 50 food trucks in the FEASTival of Flavour, a culinary stage and Global Village, an artisan market place, the Bamboo Theatre and much more. • Minoru Park, Richmond • Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 • Free, richmondworldfestival.com
Tickets: $25, $75 VIP (includes tickets, pre-show cocktails with the artists & auction preview) at 604-251-1363, or TheCultch.com
1. Gaelynn Lea. The violinist/singer was discovered playing at a farmer’s market in her hometown of Duluth, where Alan Sparhawk of Minnesota indie-rock band Low caught her act. She has since gone on to win NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest and fans such as the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who said: “Karen Dalton and Joanna Newsom melt together in the form of Gaelynn Lea, and set about absolutely obliterating your heart.” Her playing style is rooted in classical, Celtic and traditional folk music, but she also uses looping pedals, which gives her a more modern sound.
2. Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture. Lea was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic condition that causes complications in the development of bones and limbs. She headlines an evening organized by Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, a Vancouver-based non-profit that supports and promotes artists who identify as living with a disability.
3. David Roche. An in-demand speaker, Roche has turned living with a disfigured face into stories of hope, courage and humour. Inspirational though he may be, he is also “frank and witty and incapable of resorting to sentimental pap” (Publisher’s Weekly).
4. Mujtaba Saloojee. Self-taught painter Saloojee re-learned how to make art after a spinal injury caused him to lose mobility in his hands. The local artist will give a visual arts presentation.
5. Cocktails with the stars. The evening includes a silent auction with original art, jewelry, experiences, and gift baskets. VIP ticket-holders receive early entry to the venue, tickets to the show, a preview of the items to be auctioned, and pre-show cocktails with the artists.
HATS OFF: Nobody expected Easter bonnets, fascinators or headgear of any kind when the Show It Off extravaganza filled the Vancouver Playhouse recently. Hair alone was the attraction, and Avant Garde salon owner Jon Paul Holt and dancer-choreographer producer Viktoria Langton showcased plenty of it when the male and female show benefited B.C. Children’s Hospital. Stylist from the UK, across Canada and hereabouts created confections that, in most cases, were frothed up on models attired in the Playboy rather than Easter bunny manner.
HIGH FLYERS: Early aviators gained surprising extra height by flying at top speed and jerking back the joystick. They called it the zoom climb. A century later in 2008, one-time television wunderkind Moses Znaimer applied the term to half-century-old folk able to elevate their lifestyles. Among now-77-year-old Znaimer’s related enterprises, Zoomer trade shows feature travel, financial, cannabis and health-and-wellness exhibitors. Entertainers, too.
The recent Zoomer show here saw Kendra Sprinkling produce a version of the 17th annual Motown Meltdown concert that will play the Commodore Ballroom April 27. Its beneficiary, Seva Canada, restores eyesight to thousands of global patients annually. One concert singer, Dee Daniels, will zoom home from her and Denzal Sinclaire’s touring tribute to the late Nat King Cole and daughter Natalie.
FEET FEATS: Olympic bronze medallist Lynn Kanuka’s columns helped prepare Vancouver Sun reader for last weekend’s 35th annual Sun Run. She and run co-founders Doug and Diane Clement were acknowledged at a reception where Sun editor-in-chief Harold Munro noted that the 10k event’s earlier participants had covered the equivalent of 10 times around the world. Kanuka’s 2019 columns revealed that her training world extends northward to Burns Lake and New Aiyansh beyond Terrace. With three other regions, they’re part of her 10-year-old effort by which Indigenous leaders develop running and walking programs. Regarding such communities’ elders, “Their health has changed,” Kanuka said. “Their blood pressure has gone down.” So have blood-sugar and cholesterol levels, “One has even lost 100 pounds,” she whistled.
DO GO: Although tough by foot, the few B.C. residents following remote, spectacular Highway 37 north from New Aiyansh to the Alaska Highway should relish every one of its 750 kilometres.
KENNEY, CAN HE? During 2015 TaiwanFest celebrations here, then-federal immigration minister Jason Kenney called festival manager and former University of San Francisco fellow student Charlie Wu “my Chinese brother with different mothers.” Let’s see if such familial regard for B.C. residents will continue.
SKY TIME: Springtime sees the Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s substantially open-air Reflection terrace reopen formally. Rain made the recent event rather more al drencho than fresco. But with one area permanently covered and some others tented, attendees stayed dry and, given the enhanced intimacy, possibly more reflective. They were hosted by Zahra Salisbury, whose brother Azim Jamal and uncle Joe Moosa founded Pacific Reach Properties that paid $145 million for the then-90-year-old hotel in 2017.
UP PARRYSCOPE: One block west on Georgia Street, the Depression-delayed Fairmont Hotel Vancouver will celebrate its 80th birthday on May 9.
GREEN PARTIERS: Free drinks and a high-volume deejay would fill any Friday-night joint to the rafters. So it was when A-grade party giver and wood-structure-tower advocate Michael Green celebrated his self-named architecture firm’s move to Armoury-district space formerly occupied by Emily Carr University students. Despite a new climbing wall, Green’s guests didn’t actually reach the joint’s near-10-metre-high rafters.
Still, two among them routinely reach higher altitudes in places quieter, colder and far more dangerous than False Creek shores. Former rodeo roper-funeral director Kelsey Kushneryk and partner Lindsay Owen are 4,000- and 5,000-hour pilots who have spent six seasons flying for Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air in Antarctica and the Canadian Arctic. Owen hit the news in 2017 as first officer aboard a Twin Otter that sped 14,000 km from Alberta to rescue two sick workers in ‑60 C temperature from near the blizzard-whipped South Pole. She and Kushneryk also pilot an 80-year-old DC-3 airliner that, like the same-age axe with four new heads and six new handles, has likely had every part replaced and turbine engines installed.
A-PLUS: Now ensconced on Keefer Street with a 30-year lease, the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, aka Centre A, celebrated its 20th anniversary recently. President April Liu and interim executive director Yun Jou Chang welcomed centre founder Hank Bull and guests to the Main-off-Hastings Imperial where Chinese-language kung-fu movies once were screened. Las Vegas-born Liu is a Chinese art historian and Museum of Anthropology public-programs curator. Belgium-born, Taiwan-and-Prince-Rupert-raised Chang is vice-president of the pan-Asian Cinevolution Media Arts Society. As well as encouraging beginning artists, the centre “strives to activate contemporary art’s vital role in building and understanding the long and dynamic Asia-Canada relationship.”
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: While Chinese genetic scientists transfer human brain cells to monkeys, the reverse process may have been perfected in London, Ottawa and Washington, DC.
BEEMER TEAMING: BMW dealer Brian Jessel and managing partner Jim Murray cleared all but one vehicle from their Boundary-off-Lougheed new-car showroom to stage the 14th annual Cabriolet gala. Previous runnings reportedly raised $2 million. Staged by Diana Zoppa and sponsored by ZLC Financial chairman-CEO Garry Zlotnik, the recent one benefited Pancreatic Cancer Canada by netting some $525,000. The sole car left standing beside a spotlit stage and dining tables reflected the ever-more-elegant gala’s name. It was a just-introduced BMW M850i Cabriolet tagged at $145,000. Figuratively donning his dealer hat, Jessel compared it to a certain $350,000 British sportster, “But this is a nicer car.” As for other BMW introductions, half-year Cabo San Lucas resident Jessel said: “We’ve got a lot of new product coming this year. I won’t have to marry for money after all.”
BETTER WORLD: Operatic soprano and graduate biomedical engineer Isabel Bayrakdarian sang at the Elektra Women’s Choir’s recent benefit-banquet in the Sutton Place hotel. Elektra honorary patron Bayrakdarian also performed at the choir’s 30th anniversary concert in 2017. At the hotel, co-founder Morna Edmundson conducted the 53-voice ensemble as she did in January at East Hastings Street’s Oscar’s Pub. That Elektra Uncorked fundraiser followed the release of Elektra’s 15th album, Silent Night. No repertoire stick-in-the-muds, the choristers are heard prominently on Gibsons-based progressive-metal musician Devin Townsend’s Empath album that released March 29 to seven-figure YouTube hits. Such musical genre-bending aside, few would dispute Schubert’s An Die Musik that Bayrakdarian sang to Elektra patrons: “You, lovely art, in how many gloomy hours of experiencing the turmoil of life have you ignited love in my heart and transported me to a better world?”
OVARIAN OVATION: With Franci Stratton chairing for the third time, the recent Love Her gala reportedly raised $225,000 for Ovarian Cancer Canada. The lunchtime event included a fashion show by West Vancouver retailer Marilyn Diligenti-Smith. Local volunteer models hit the catwalk as singer Amanda Wood belted out Girl On Fire. Ovarian cancer, however, is a murderous fire that researchers and practitioners yearn to put out while striving to discover how its starts. Back at the gala, attendees applauded when an annual award commemorating business and community leader Virginia Greene went to Christine Coletta and cousin Lisa Konishi who have jointly lost eight friends and family members to ovarian cancer. More cheerfully, Coletta donated and served much wine from her 45,000-cases-a-year Okanagan Crush Pad operation.
PAUL’S LETTERS: Paul Wong’s year-long artist in residency at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden ended with a reception at his Keefer Street studio. Fifty-five arts-related tenants reportedly pay $2 a square foot to occupy the building’s lower, third and fourth floors. A Korean restaurant and Scotiabank branch are conveniently located at street level. Meanwhile, Wong’s now-concluded exhibition of 700 letters to late mother Suk Fong has received a reply. The Canada Council for the Arts reportedly offered $54,500 to fund a related book. “We’re trying to get the money as soon as possible in case there’s been a mistake,” Wong cracked while admitting, “It was more than I asked for.”
POST PAST: B.C.’s early 20th-century South Asian pioneers were the subjects of a recent Vancouver Sun article. Now, moviemaker Baljit Sangra wants to portray their second- and third-generation descendants. To open the DOXA Documentary Film Festival May 3, Sangra’s 85-minute Because We Are Girls examines three Williams Lake sisters who concealed their shared sexual abuse for almost 25 years. She hopes that her next, and bigger, project will be a feature-film drama. “I would love to do a coming-of-age narrative of South Asians growing up in the 1970s,” Sangra said. “The fashion, the music, what they thought.” That might cost $5 million. Let’s hope she raises it.
NEW LEAF: Simon Fraser University chief Andrew Petter presented the President’s Distinguished Community Leadership Award to Mike Harcourt recently. The latter’s merits aside, the Four Seasons Hotel ceremony echoed Petter having been in 1991-96 NDP premier Harcourt’s cabinet. No such gender or partisan links occurred in 2010 when the honour went to Petter’s decade-later successor as B.C. Liberal finance minister, Carole Taylor. Her co-awardee, since-deceased husband Art Phillips, was Harcourt’s predecessor-but-one as Vancouver mayor. Soon after her award, Taylor was named chancellor of SFU where, vis-à-vis president Petter, she said: “My job is to protect him.” In his early 20s, lawyer Harcourt counselled Kitsilano-based Cool-Aid youth social services’ clients, some of whom were jailed for possessing marijuana joints. Today, he chairs Lumby-based True Leaf that plans to produce 2,500 kg of cannabis annually.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: A century ago, satirist Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary contained: “Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” Also: “Conservative: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.” Finally: “Liberty: One of imagination’s most precious possessions.”
Until recently, The Centaurs were one of those classic 1960s garage-rock bands that seemed lost to time.
“All that is known about The Centaurs is that they came from The Hague,” said the liner notes to compilation of Dutch bands from the “psychedelic sixties,” Flight to Lowlands Paradise. “Their only single came out on Polydor in 1967.”
The band did live in The Hague in the ’60s, but they were actually from Richmond, B.C.
After forming in 1964, the quintet played most every type of local gig you can imagine. They opened for movies at the Lougheed Drive-In, attracted 1,400 teenagers to the Peach Bowl in Penticton and were headliners at Vancouver’s first psychedelic hotspot, The Afterthought.
But they grew frustrated at being a garage-rock band in a rhythm and blues town. So in November 1966 they moved to Europe.
In Holland they were billed as the “Topgroep uit Canada,” opened for The Troggs and had a hit single. In Germany, they were offered a residency at the Star-Club in Hamburg, where the Beatles had honed their craft.
“They said, ‘We’d like you to stay, we want you to play here like The Beatles — but we’re not going to pay you,’ ” recalls drummer John Gedak.
“We said, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘We will make you famous.’ I looked at him and said, ‘Well, we’re already famous. We have a hit record in Holland with Polydor, we’re booked there as Canada’s top band.’ ”
The band was in Europe 18 months before they got homesick and came back to Vancouver. Gedak stayed behind to play with a German band, and The Centaurs broke up.
Fast forward five decades. Gedak is living in Tsawwassen and sells a drum kit to someone who wants to give it to a kid as a birthday present.
“He goes over to Victoria to this party, and who’s at the party but our old road manager, Don Moss,” says Gedak. “So I call (Moss) and he says, ‘By the way, I’ve got this box … I opened it up and there’s this tape in there.’ And I’m going, ‘Oh my God.’ ”
Before leaving for Europe, The Centaurs had recorded several songs from their stage show with legendary local producer Robin Spurgin.
They pressed about 20 cheap “acetate” copies to send overseas to try and get gigs, but the whereabouts of the original tape were a mystery until it turned up in Moss’s box.
Last week, their debut album was finally released, 53 years after it was recorded.
The four remaining band members got together at Gedak’s house to autograph copies of the vinyl album, and to reminisce about their unique career.
“We were one of the first bands in Vancouver to have long hair,” recounts guitarist Hugh Reilly, 76. “We had numerous confrontations where these greaseballs, for want of a better term, wanted to beat us up.”
“The Knight and Day on Boundary and Lougheed, they wouldn’t serve us,” says Reilly.
“There was another occasion where we walked through The Bay downtown and we literally stopped conversations, dead in their tracks. Walking down the sidewalks we had people with grocery bags walking into parking meters because they couldn’t take their eyes off us.”
Singer Ron Williams was a handsome buck and a snappy dresser, which made him a magnet for the women in the audience. But this didn’t always sit well with their boyfriends.
“There was one time Ron got into a confrontation with somebody, at a little disco club in Richmond,” says bassist Al West, 75.
“Oh that was a bad one,” says Gedak.
“After we packed up we were heading out to the parking lot and this circle was gradually forming around us,” says West. “It was getting pretty scary.”
“It was like West Side Story,” said Reilly. “There was a big circle of guys closing in on us, so we grabbed mic stands and stuff like that (to defend ourselves). The next thing the cops arrive, and escorted us all the way to Burnaby.”
“You beaned somebody’s car with a mic stand,” says keyboard player Bob Brown, 71. “They were pulling out and it went bang!”
“That was a different time,” says Reilly. “That was the rowdies from Prince George.”
Gedak was still in high school, and the principal threatened to boot him out unless he cut his hair. He argued he needed long hair for the band, so the principal relented, as long as he greased his hair down and combed it back.
“All the guys would come into the washroom and go, ‘Comb it down, we want to see what it looks like!’ ” says Gedak. “I’d comb it down and they’d go, ‘Wow, that’s so cool!’ ”
Originally they dressed in matching suits and turtlenecks, but quickly they adopted the mod look, picking up bright, snazzy clothes from the Bad Boys Ragge Shop in downtown Vancouver.
As cool as they thought they were in Vancouver, when they got to Amsterdam the scene was something else.
“It was a shock,” says Reilly. “Even in ’67 when the Retinal Circus (club) and the psychedelic thing was kicking off, compared to what was going on in Holland … (Vancouver was) a backwater.
“We felt like country bumpkins over there. Unisex was everywhere, the mini-skirts, the hair down to the butt, male, female, it didn’t matter.”
Initially, the band was scheduled to go straight to Germany. But the night they arrived in Amsterdam Gedak went out to see the sights.
“First music I heard, a club, I walked in and it was live,” he says.
“I said I want to talk to the manager, I’m in a band from Canada. This guy come out and says, ‘I’m Hans Van Oosterhaut.’
“He was manager of a band that had a hit called Ma Belle Ami, the Tea Set. He freaked out. ‘You’ve got a van and you’ve got your gear? I’ve got to hear you play!’ ”
Van Oosterhaut became their manager and in a short time they found themselves opening for The Troggs, who had recently topped the charts with Wild Thing.
“When we went onstage we came on really powerful,” says Gedak.
“So when (The Troggs) came on, they cranked everything up. Back then they didn’t have big sound systems like they do now. So they cranked their little amps up, but couldn’t keep up with our stuff, and the lead guitar player blew his amp.
“So here’s Hugh, our lead guitar player, having to lift his Vox amp over all the crowd to get it up to (The Troggs’ guitar player) so he could play his amp. I’ll never forget that.”
The band rented an apartment “on the main drag” in Scheveningen, a seaside town near The Hague, and six months of fun ensued.
“It was a rotating door there,” says Gedak. “You’d be playing all these gigs, and all these (female) fans — let’s call them fans — would be coming in and out like they owned the place.”
“Well, we needed somebody to cook for us,” deadpans Reilly.
They headlined all over Holland, but after six months their work visas expired and they got the boot.
“Our fans wrote in to the Queen (of Holland), ‘please allow this band to stay, blah blah blah, they’re Canadian, they helped us win the war,’ all this kind of stuff,” said Gedak. “Didn’t work. They wanted gigs for their bands, not Canadian or U.S. bands coming through.”
So they went to Germany, starting with the Star-Club.
“The place was just a dive, honest to God,” said Gedak. “Black. The Beatles paid their dues there. They played their heart out and wrote their music and said to hell with everything, we’re just going to get our stuff together. We weren’t interested in that, so we packed up and went south into Bavaria, where we had a lot of gigs lined up.”
After a year in Germany most of the band came back to Canada, which hadn’t changed all that much.
“I came back from Europe and the same guys were in the same cars at the same drive-ins with the same girlfriends,” says Brown. “And I’d had guns pulled on me in Holland, been chased by seven different kinds of German police, and had all kinds of adventures with girls.”
Brown remained a musician, playing solo gigs all over town. Reilly became a computer programmer for the City of Surrey and West became an engineer for a company that built robotic submarines. Williams moved to Williams Lake, where he died in an accident in 2015.
Gedak thrived in business.
“I started an art gallery chain called The Picture Show Art Galleries, which turned out to be 37 art galleries within three or four years from Vancouver to Winnipeg,” he says.
“I had a store in every mall. Then I started Getaway Vans (with his family). They were everywhere.”
Indeed. In his home he has a framed letter thanking for his help during the Papal visit in 1984, when Getaway Vans built the Popemobile that ferried Pope John Paul II around the Lower Mainland.
“It was a white pickup truck that we completely converted in the back with blue and gold upholstery that matched the papal colours,” Gedak explains.
“It had four captain’s chairs and an aisle way down the middle, all done up in velvet and carpet. So he could walk in and sit down or stand up, we had a handle there for him to stand up.
“The neat part was when I built it at Getaway I drove around in it and blessed everybody.”
But he kept playing drums throughout and got The Centaurs to reunite a few times for gigs. Then he met Jaime Anstey, a young guy who’s so obsessed with ’60s music he formed Regenerator Records to release some of it. (The label is co-owned by Larry Hennessey, of Larry and Willie fame.)
It took a couple of years to put out The Centaurs album, From Canada to Europe. But it’s a fabulous little disc, a lost garage-rock classic that mixes originals like On Your Way and You Never Let Me Do Nuthin’ with covers like Heart Full of Soul (by The Yardbirds) and Kicks (by Paul Revere and the Raiders).
Gedak is a pack rat and kept all sorts of mementoes from their career, including posters, fan letters and photos. There’s a colour photo shoot for their Dutch 45 that’s so psychedelic you get a contact high just looking at it.
The album jacket (on both vinyl and CD) is packed with selections from Gedak’s horde, and is worth the price of the disc alone. Fifty-two years after they broke up, a new generation can discover the power and glory of the “Topgroep uit Canada.”
ANOTHER RECORD: First-time co-chairs Carman Chan, Isabel Hsieh and Pao Yao Koo hit a home run when the Chinese community’s 24th annual For Children We Care gala reportedly raised a record $4.1 million. That will go toward a $14-million campaign for relocating the development-and-rehabilitation Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children to the B.C. Children’s Hospital’s main campus.
Last year’s event brought in close to $$3.4 million, which exceeded 2017’s by $836,000. Contrasting the hospital’s fiscal prudence, the gala’s theme was Versailles, the extravagant palace and estate that helped bankrupt 18th-century France and send King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette to the guillotine. Conductor Ken Hsieh and the Metropolitan Orchestra entertained gala-goers with music from Parisian Jacques Offenbach’s 1858 Orpheus In The Underworld that also enlivens the cancan dance. Happily, the gala’s fundraising co-chairs proved that they could-could and did-did.
FOR PAINT JOBS WE CARE: Open Road auto dealer Christian Chia showed a $500,000-range Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV at the For Children We Care gala. Viewers included the event’s third-time presenter, Peterson development firm executive chair-CEO Ben Yeung. Few buyers of the off-road-capable Cullinan would likely subject its flawless, porcelain-like surface to damage along bush-and-rock-flanked trails. Ditto when parking by night in certain DTES zones, including one where developer-to-be Yeung located his fresh-from-varsity dental practice.
STARRED: Local self-made billionaire Jim Pattison and entertainers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have received Hometown Stars from the Canada Walk of Fame organization. The local ceremony followed a flossier one in Toronto where Paul Anka and investments supremo Warren Buffett serenaded Pattison with Frank Sinatra’s My Way. Rogan and Goldberg were lauded here by fellow walk-of-famer Howie Mandel. Also by teacher Mike Keenlyside from Point Grey Secondary where their stars will be embedded. Of their alma mater, “Everybody needs to know that Seth was a dropout and didn’t graduate,” Goldberg cracked.
When John Oliver Secondary grad and legendary toiler Pattison was asked if he really ought to be at work during daylight, he replied: “The answer is: Yes.” As for working for Pattison as former NDP premier Glen Clark does, successor John Horgan said: “I’ve got a job right now, but that’s an option.” That option would doubtless pay more than his current $205,400.16 salary. Meanwhile, Horgan and others might heed Pattison’s words: “Do the little things well and the big things will follow.”
BEAR FACTS: Another billionaire hit town recently. That was Seaspan Marine Corp. head Dennis Washington whose US$6-billion-range net worth is close to Pattison’s but whose 332-foot yacht Atessa IV overpowers the latter’s 150-foot Nova Spirit. Washington arrived for the premiere of Great Bear Rainforest, an Imax movie executive-produced by his son and Seaspan ULC executive chair, Kyle. Its director, Ian McAllister, met the younger Washington three years ago at a luncheon for the Pacific Wild Foundation that McAllister co-founded. Rather than conventional digital shooting, three-decade Bella Bella resident McAllister argued for Imax’s costlier 70mm film system that promises worldwide access to young audiences. The picture’s own young characters include Mercedes Robinson, who lives in 350-population Klemtu and retrieves DNA from trees where bears scratch themselves. Of her debut movie role, Robinson said: “You can get a lot of information from bears … who are guardians of the eco-system and have the ability to make it thrive and make the land more healthy.” When grown up, “I hope to provide information to the younger generation so that they protect the (bears’) territory and save it from those taking it from them.”
NEED FOR SPEED: B.C. Women’s Hospital Foundation president-CEO Genesa Greening and board chair Karim Kassam reported $300,000 was raised at the recent Illuminations luncheon. That’s where guests were illuminated regarding thousands of women plagued by slow-to-diagnose health concerns. A tenfold increase in research funding is said to be needed to address complex chronic diseases that are up to nine times likelier to affect women than men.
MEADOW MONEY: Attending the luncheon, the B.C. lieutenant-governor and former Women’s Hospital Foundation board member, Janet Austin, called the hospital’s researchers “some of the best in the world.” Then, pointing to retired Vancouver police inspector Bob Usui, who is one of her 35 ceremonial aides de camp, she told guests: “People think he is the lieutenant-governor, not me.” Her joke likely reminded some of an earlier LG, David Lam, who claimed that children sometimes misheard his title as “left-handed governor.” As for research-funding, Austin sounded in tune with rancher-predecessor Judith Guichon by saying: “Money is like manure — no good if it isn’t spread.”
NEW CARR: Bonhomie, not money, was spread on Great Northern Way recently with Gillian Siddall’s induction as Emily Carr University of Art and Design’s second president and vice-chancellor. She succeeds 22-year incumbent Ron Burnett who oversaw the much-enlarged academy’s move from Granville Island.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: February 23 is International Dog Biscuit Day or, for humans taking a mouthful, World Sword Swallowers Day.
The Dear Norman letter on page 15 of the program for PuSh 15 puts the 15th annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in context.
This is the first time that the now fixture on the local cultural events calendar hasn’t been helmed by its co-founder Norman Armour. The touching thank-you note from friends, colleagues and staff to the outgoing artistic director lauds him and co-creator Katrina Dunn for launching the cutting-edge arts showcase.
Interim artistic director Joyce Rosario says a lot of thinking went into how to program this year’s event to both celebrate the festival’s foundation and recognize boldly moving forward.
“Right from choosing the cover image the program (of UK performer Selina Thompson’s show SALT.) to how we decided to celebrate our 15th anniversary without our founder, the question was how do we express gratitude for the work that went into making such a great event,” said Rosario.
“So we brought back the opening and closing night parties, which we haven’t done in a long time, to celebrate where we’ve been and we are going. Also, we ran a big ticket promotion of $15 dollar tickets for the first 15 days of sales, and that was a really great experiment to discover which shows were popular and went the fastest, who were the new people getting tickets, and the tastes of ongoing audience members.”
Even an event as established and successful as PuSh must be constantly studying its metrics to determine how to maximize audiences.
The nature of the performances that the festival presents is such that even sellouts don’t always add up to big profits, as artists travel large distances and many of the productions have substantial stage technical builds.
Curating the multiple shows is always a balancing act; an act that the festival has proven adept at juggling year in and year out, offering up the kinds of experiences that resonate with audiences long after they happen.
PuSh is, ultimately, about accessing transformative experiences and PuSh 15 will kickoff with a bang.
The free opening night bash at Club Push (Jan. 17, Beaumont Studios, 9:30 p.m.) features Vancouver’s sharp queer Filipinx MC Kimmortal and art-fashion-dance collective Immigrant Lessons performing selections from their new collaboration titled X Marks the Movement. It promises to be a potent mix of art, politics and partying.
UK cabaret provocateur Lucky McCormick’s Triple Threat — a “trash-punk morality play” retelling the New Testament — is at the closing night party at XY (Feb. 2, 9 p.m.). Hardly wine and cheese events, both of these bookends define what makes PuSh what it is.
“Sure, we’re niche, and attract those who are willing to dive in and take a chance on something you might not know,” said Rosario.
“PuSh fans are a couple of things: People who are driven by their curiosity, looking to have an interesting conversation or insight into performing arts that they see; and often regular audience members for one thing, such as dance, who take this time of year to stretch out and see something completely different, such as a mix of an Indonesian noise band with an acclaimed Australian dance group (Attractor, Jan. 18 – 19, Vancouver Playhouse).
Rosario admits the latter is how she approached her first PuSh festival events a decade ago. She loved it so much that she kept coming, and now can’t envisage the local cultural scene without it.
While Vancouver was always a hotbed of multidisciplinary performance, there was much more separation of the genres when PuSh began. The landscape has shifted profoundly since then.
“I think that it’s how artists are working, and how they have been working, and we were just more aware of it early on; now other folks have cottoned on is all,” Rosario said.
“So the big question becomes how do you remain in the know of what are the new practices. The city has changed, the arts scene has changed, and now we are in this liminal moment where we are about to transition into something different with new leadership; that’s exciting.”
The fact is that almost all of the major arts and cultural festivals in the region — and, to a large degree, worldwide — are undergoing regime changes as their founding Boomer base steps aside to let the next generation lead. It’s something that Rosario and Armour discussed often over their five years of working together before his retirement.
This year’s event still bears Armour’s hand, as it was in motion when he decided to move on to other pursuits. Rosario admits there are shows this year where she isn’t sure who initially suggested booking the artists.
“Norman was from Upper Canada, I’m from East Van, yet we found common working ground and fun doing it,” she said.
“My lens is definitely more of a dance one than he had, which was one of the reasons he brought me on board. As we move onward there are bound to be more examples of new interests in the programming, but we’ve always had a wide variety and scope.”
The 15th edition includes over 150 performances of 26 productions from 24 companies representing 13 countries. Of these shows, six are world premieres, 11 are Canadian premieres and six of those are western Canadian premieres.
It’s a huge undertaking for the eight staff and 20 contract employees who make it happen. The 2005 budget was under $200,000. This year will be more than $1.7 million. Audience attendance is expected to top 17,500. For a celebration of non-mainstream arts, that’s massive.
It’s also challenging in terms of deciding what and what not to see. Aware of these demands, the festival even has its own official collaborative beer to quaff while you make your selections. Strange Side is a joint creation from Strange Fellows Brewing and Parkside Brewery and will be available at Club PuSh, and other venues.
Rosario and the PuSH team are developing a program that reflects the 15th festival theme of issues around diversity, accessibility and gratitude. She is particularly excited about three shows around this theme at this year’s festival:
1 – SALT. (Jan. 24 – 26, 8 p.m.,) and Race Cards (Free, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2, both at Roundhouse)
“Obviously, UK artist Selina Thompson is on the cover and we are lucky enough to have her here for two shows, which is really great because I love her work. One is a free installation and the other is a theatre piece and this gives the audience a really solid introduction. Having her here for two things rather than having to wait maybe years for another chance to present is special.”
2 – Attractor (Jan 18 – 19, Vancouver Playhouse)
“Three of the elements I love so much — dance, music and performance — in one program from Dancenorth Australia, with the amazing band Senyawa. These guys are as influenced by heavy metal and noise as they are by traditional Indonesian music and paired with these dancers should be fantastic. Rully, the vocalist, who is down in Portland, asked me if I knew Tanya Tagaq and could introduce them, because he would really like to meet her. Pretty awesome.”
“A show by Toronto’s Buddies In Bad Times theatre with the company head Evalyn Parry performing with Inuk artist Laakuluk Williamson Bathory exploring things they got to jamming on during an Arctic expedition together. It’s about being female artists and their relationships to the environment, being from Toronto and Iqaluit. Shows with powerhouse women, I’m all for.”
• PuSh festival programs are available at local JJ Bean outlets and other locations.
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