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Wednesday April 20, 2016

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It's not just about guitars - but there are some mighty fine pickers at The Rogue this week!

Hi everyone. Hope you're enjoying the glorious weather! Mercifully it looks like it will cool down a bit for our next concert, but there was definitely a hot Hawaiian "theme" underlining last night's Roguelele Jam Night at St. James Hall with the amazing Ralph Shaw and dozens of ukulele players and singers having a rare old time in spite of the heat!

I've been presenting shows for as long as I can remember, but I have to say that our last three concerts have left me gobsmacked! Such incredible shows! I do think that all our shows are pretty amazing, but the performances by The Small Glories, The Fretless (with special guest Mairi Rankin), and Jonathan Byrd (with guitarist Johnny Waken) in particular were just stunning! Such power, creativity, and sheer entertainment! Wow! We sure are blessed with some amazing music at The Rogue House. Too bad there were not more people on Sunday for Corin Raymond and Jonathan Byrd. For me that show was the epitome of what singer songwriters / troubadours can achieve. We love it when the likes of David Francey and Old Man Luedecke sell out the venue, but can't help feeling disappointed when other superb songwriters are met with a house half-full at The Rogue.

This week it's all about guitars - gypsy jazz guitars - and so much more! - and then an evening with six of the best blues and roots guitarists anywhere.
1. April In Paris celebrates 10 years in Kitsilano!
Ten years ago I approached Van Django and guitar-builder / Martian guitarist Michael Dunn about the idea of starting a Django Festival here in Vancouver. We’d had some great nights with the Hot Club of Mars and the like over the years and it seemed to me that it was time to start a celebration of Django’s music. This week sees the 10th annual April In Paris festival take place at St. James Hall in Kitsilano! I can't believe it's been 10 years!!

Why this fascination for the music of a guitar hero from the 1920s-1950s, you ask? Well, for me it all started when Dad brought home two budget LPs from Woolworth’s in Newcastle under Lyme. This was around 1965 and the LPs cost the princely sum of 12/6d in old money (65p now!) One featured Lionel Hampton, the great vibraphonist and band leader with Buddy Rich in his band, the other was called Djangology, and featured 10 tracks by Django Reinhardt from the early 1940s. These were the first LPs to reach our household! I played them incessantly and all those tunes stuck in my head, and are still there 50 years on, a phrase or a solo triggered by a flash of memory and there is Django (or Hamp) reminding me of those albums. I still smile whenever I hear a rendition of Sweet Sue or Les Yeux Noirs (or Midnight Sun, or Pig Ears & Rice, for that matter!)

Django’s story is the stuff of legends. Born into a family of travellers in Belgium, he lived in a caravan. All the family played music. He first learned the banjo and later guitar. One day his caravan caught fire and he lost the use of two fingers on his left hand as he tried to douse the flames. He had to relearn the guitar. He was pretty good! In the early 1930s American jazz was becoming increasingly popular in the dance halls of Paris and Django’s music morphed from the traditional Bal Musette music of the early 20th century to incorporate jazz. He met violinist Stephane Grappelli, who had some Louis Armstrong records. Django recognized two kindred spirits at once! He and Grappelli formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France in the 30s and the band were on tour in England when war broke out. Grappelli stayed in London, but Django returned to France. He replaced the violin with Hubert Rostaing’s clarinet. Somehow he survived the war - he even escaped from a train en route to a concentration camp once. The Paris music scene was a vital recruitment tool for Hitler, and a German jazz enthusiast in the military - known as Herr Dr. Jazz - helped keep the music and musicians safe. Django became a superstar - and remains one of the most influential guitarists of all time. We are very lucky here in BC to have so many Django devotees keeping his musical legacy alive.

Over the years at April In Paris we have featured local bands Van Django, Hot Club of Mars, and Marc Atkinson Trio (or quartet) every year. We have also introduced local combos like Company B Jazz Band, Roma Swing, and this year Black Gardenia make their AIP debut. Guest artists have included the great John Jorgenson Quintet (twice), Quebec’s Christine Tassan et les Imposteures (three times) and Denis Chang Quartet (once), and Washington’s Pearl Django (twice) and Hot Club Sandwich (once). The event is colourful, extremely enjoyable, with dancing, singing, amazing musicians, and tasty food and beverages with more than a hint of French flavour. For the past few years chanteuse Deanna Knight has added a cabaret night, with all kinds of merriment ranging from magicians to burlesque dancers and guest musicians. April In Paris is a fun way to celebrate the music of a bygone era, kept alive and updated by some of the finest musicians and singers on the coast!
2. Van Django and Company B Jazz Band, Thursday April 21st 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
Renowned for the quality of their musicianship and as great entertainers, Van Django delivers a unique mix of nostalgic favourites, jazz standards, pop tunes, classical elements, and sing-alongs - always with a few surprises - in swinging gypsy jazz style. The band features violinist Cameron Wilson, guitarist Budge Schachte, guitarist/cellist Finn Manniche and bassist Brent Gubbels. Van Django’s music is punchy, driving and rhythmically inventive, combining a wealth of musical influences while maintaining strong roots in the gypsy jazz made famous by Django Reinhardt and the 1930’s Quintet of the Hot Club of France. On stage, “they effortlessly whip the audience into a joyful frenzy. Attending a Van Django concert is the most fun you can have sitting down with your clothes on.” - Nick Lehr (Djangofest).

Company B Jazz Band is Vancouver’s foremost vintage jazz harmony group. The 6-piece ensemble features a harmonizing female vocal trio in the style of the Andrews Sisters and Boswell Sisters, framed by clarinet/sax, guitar, and upright bass.  This talented group of musicians has been entertaining the masses since 2007 with their creative arrangements, sharp image, and charming wit.  To date, the group has released 3 albums - with a new one on the way in 2016 we hear - and has performed throughout Canada and the US. Most recently Company B were a featured act in the Jiangsu International Jazz and World Music Festival in China.

For tickets and show details click here
3. Cabaret Night w/ Deanna Knight & Hot Club Of Mars, Friday April 22nd 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
Deanna Knight & the Hot Club Cabaret has become a tradition at the April in Paris Festival. Deanna carefully curates a clever cast of local talent to add pizzazz and excitement to the evening. Alongside her vintage flare she will sprinkle in the tapping toes of Alex Clancy as well as the return of burlesque darling Miss Lydia DeCarllo. This year we will all delight in the charms of Jack Garton as emcee and perhaps he will share a song or two with the band. Enjoy the Parisian atmosphere created by Sue Baines on accordion and bring your dancing shoes… as you just might be inspired to get out of your seat and shake it!

Mixing the night up with swing, bossa, tango and more, The Hot Club of Mars is Vancouver’s most eclectic gypsy swing ensemble. The band has recorded two CDs to date: Gypsy Fire, and Kiss Of Fire. The line-up features Deanna Knight on vocals, Michael Dunn, Steve Szabo and Don Kellett on guitars, Mark Dowding on sax, flute and harmonica, Tom Neville on fiddle, & Charlie Knowles on bass.

For tickets and show details click here
4. Marc Atkinson Trio & Black Gardenia, Saturday April 23rd 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
One of Canada’s most accomplished and innovative guitarists, Hornby Island’s Marc Atkinson’s compositions are punchy, driving and rhythmically inventive. The tunes have a fiery but elegant style, infused with a catchy blend of influences. All the while maintaining the laid-back humour and casual “good time feel” of Canada’s West Coast. His music is original, complex and challenging in its conception and delivery but remains accessible and absorbing. With Brett Marten on rhythm and Scott White on bass, the music of this fine trio welcomes all listeners aboard for an intriguing, exhilarating and unforgettable ride.

Daphne Roubini playfully named ”First Lady of Uke” sings and plays the Ukulele in her band Black Gardenia, the Vancouver-based five-piece whose ‘London Jazz meets Americana’ sound has delighted festival and club audiences on two continents. With their unique, darkly-relaxed blend of vintage jazz, country, folk and blues from the 20s, 30s and 40s, Black Gardenia takes listeners on a journey to an age where cool meant classy and noir was the norm. (Watch for a Django jam session between Marc Atkinson and Paul Pigat - the lead guitarist in Black Gardenia. It was a festival high-point a couple of years back! )

For tickets and show details click here
5. A Mighty String Thing, Sunday April 24th 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
'An eclectic group of string wizards come together to present an evening of ear candy from various roots music traditions.'

If you've ever been to a folk festival, you know what can happen when artists of different musical persuasions get together. We're talking once-in-a-lifetime musical moments that leave everyone in the house - both the players AND the listeners going "Wow, did that really happen?". They're usually served up with some great stories and a side order of laughter too. This unique evening will be a night of exceptional guitar music to round out a week of celebration of the guitar pioneer Django Reinhardt. I'm sure he would have been enthralled. Here is a rundown of the superb players who will play in the round. This is a show that you should not miss.

Kevin Breit hails from McKerrow, Ontario (pop. 551), just west of Sudbury. As anyone who's lived in a small town knows, you have to make your own fun and in the Breit house, that meant music. Kevin taught himself to play the guitar and grew up jamming with his brothers before heading down to Toronto when he was 17. Since then, he's recorded and/or toured with more then 100 artists including k.d. lang, Hugh Laurie, Natalie McMaster, Lou Reed, Holly Cole, Bill Frisell, Roseanne Cash, Celine Dion and his sister Sue. Recordings he's worked on have won 13 Grammy Awards for artists like Cassandra Wilson and Norah Jones. Along the way, he's also become frighteningly proficient on the mandolin and the banjo.

In the late 80s, Doug Cox heard dobro master Jerry Douglas in concert and fell in love with the sound. The next day, he saw a dobro for sale and soon he was practicing five hours a day and studying with masters like Bob Brozman and Orville Johnson. He was the first featured Dobro player at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the first Canadian invited to Dobrofest in the birthplace of the Slovakian brothers who invented the Dobro. He's an in-demand teacher at music camps across Canada and in Alaska, Texas, England and Slovenia and the creator of 8 instructional books and DVDs. It's one of several stringed things he's good at, including the Weissenborn, mandolin and guitar. He's brought these musical voices to projects like Slide to Freedom (with Indian mohan veena player Salil Bhatt and tablitha Ramkumar Mishra), Strung (with fiddler April Verch and guitarist Tony McManus) and his own solo projects. He's played at some of roots music's most intimate stages, including the Yellow Door, the Blacksheep Inn and The Freight and Salvage as well as every major folk festival across the country. He's also the artistic director of the highly-regarded Vancouver Island MusicFest and a proud grandfather.

Some musicians pick up their guitar and go lookin' for a groove. Cecile Doo-Kingue seems to live in one. Her music is based in the blues, but it comes with a solid side of funk and there's more than a dash of jazz in her changes up and down the neck. Cecile is what you might call ambi-sonic. She can bring it on acoustic or electric and it's all good. But real blues come from real life and Cecile's lyrics speak to just that, with songs about racism, homophobia and poverty as well as good times, love and lust. She's got an edge in her voice that makes it sound like it's been around, and it has - her parents moved from Cameroon to New York city, where she was born and raised as the youngest of eight kids. From New York, she moved to France and then to Montreal in 1995, where she's made music with Montreal Jubilation Choir, Blind Boys of Alabama, Michael Jerome Brown, Scarlett Jane and United Steel Workers of Montreal to name a few. If by chance Cecile may be new to your ears, you're in for a fine time.

Sam Hurrie grew up in Toronto, where one night he accidentally tuned a black radio station broadcasting John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen" across the lake from the States. It was the first blues he'd ever heard and it changed his life. By the mid-60s, he had an R&B band hot enough to be the house band at the Scene, one of the hottest clubs in New York City. People like John Lennon and Paul McCartney came down to hear them. Sam found himself jamming with Jimi Hendrix and opening for his idol, Muddy Waters. When that gig ended, they toured all over America, working hard but never catching a break and eventually, for Sam, the road got old. Family drew him north to Powell River where he found work in a paper mill and as he says starting in about 1970, I took 35 years off. His love for the blues led him to studying on blues history and applying what he learned to his guitar playing. When his time at the mill was done, he began performing again, older, wiser and still committed to what Hooker made so clear - "the groove is the thing".

Bill Kirchen's skills have earned him the title of "The Titan of The Telecaster" by Guitar Player magazine, but his musical life actually began on the trombone at Ann Arbor High School. During his student days at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, he picked up banjo and guitar and formed a band that ultimately turned into Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. Bill played with them from 1967 to the mid-1970s, and that's him you hear on tracks like "Down to Seeds and Stems Again Blues" and "Hot Rod Lincoln". He plays a 1959 model Tele, with a maple fretboard and sunburst finish that he acquired in 1967 when he exchanged his Gibson SG with a stranger on a bus. His sound's called "diesel-billy" - rock 'n' roll and country music drawing on blues and bluegrass, Western swing and California honky-tonk. He's recorded with Nick Lowe, Emmylou Harris, Doug Sahm, Elvis Costello, Gene Vincent, and Link Wray and many others. These days, he calls Austin home and in the words of the Austin-American Statesman - "Bill Kirchen rules, it's just that simple...".

Mark Stuart's musical education started early, listening to his uncle play the guitar while his dad played fiddle. By the time he was fifteen, it was high school by day and playing guitar by night in his dad's band in various honky-tonks and beer joints around Nashville. At seventeen, he found himself in ever-increasing demand to go out on the road as lead guitarist and vocalist for acts like Freddy Fender, Jonnell Mosser and Joan Baez. One of his fondest memories is touring with Steve Earle in the 1990s as one of the Dukes, appearing on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and doing gigs with Neil Young.  Along the way, he met a young guitar player and singer named Stacy Earle who was also a former Duke and Steve's sister. They've been together ever since and much of his time has been devoted to a husband-wife duo, "Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart". They started their own label and have toured across North America and Europe while releasing several acclaimed albums together. His own music reflects the music he heard at home and all he's learned along the way, from the blues to country and folk to rock and it's all the sound of someone doing exactly what they always wanted to do.

For tickets and show details click here

6. Radio Waves
Tune in to The Edge On Folk - hosted by me, Steve Edge - this Saturday from 8am to noon to hear some fabulous guitar music, a feature on Afro Celt Sound System, a celebration of St. George's Day, and much more. You can listen live on CiTR fm 101.9 and

A Podcast of the show will be available later in the week on CiTR's website.

You can also hear a great mix of music on Radio Rogue (Rogue without end, amen!)                                    

Here I am with Deanna Knight backstage at April In Paris 2015. I like this game!