Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Fest Blog: Day 3 – Oooh! Shiny

Morgan Murray will be blogging about the Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival for The Scope from July 13-18.

Last week I had the joy of blogging the Sound Symposium, another sort of music festival, to say the least.

Sound Symposium is outstanding, and weird. It held its shows at the LSPU, a converted Longshoremen’s Protection Union Hall, in MUN recital halls, in pubs, in hip art galleries, in the harbour, and out at Cape Spear.

It featured music and sounds made with instruments without names, with a radio, four old shoes and one old steering wheel, with kitchen utensils, with ship horns, and pigeons with whistles tied to their ass ends.

Meanwhile, Wreckhouse is held in posh clubs with some of the best blues and jazz bands from across Canada and beyond, usually dressed in their Sunday best, playing instruments they’ve bought, not built, with proper instrument-sounding names.

Just compare the list of partners and sponsors of the two events. Sound Symposium’s list reads like a who’s who of art supporting government agencies (federal, provincial, municipal, République Française!), foundations, institutions, galleries, and public broadcasters. Wreckhouse’s sponsor list is rife with corporate muscle — media giants, fancy hotels, car companies, booze companies, oil companies, and banks.

Don’t get me wrong: Neither of these are knocks against either of these great festivals. It just makes for quite a bout of culture shock to go from one to the other. This blogging stuff ain’t no walk in the park! No siree!

So here goes nothing…

Elvis Bossa Nova are quite good. But you wouldn’t usually make the trip out from Toronto if you aren’t. They won’t blow your mind, or wreck your house, but they are a lot of fun, and quite entertaining. They are a five piecer — guitar, vibraphone, stand-up bass, drums, and more drums — that is dominated by the guitar, as my Wikipedia education in Bossa Nova tells me it should be, but orbits, more-or-less, around the vibraphone (not to be confused with its wimpy, puny cousin the xylophone).

Elvis Bossa Nova manages to create a very cohesive, very enjoyable, and at times very rip-roaring sound all while revolving around something that risks sounding like either elevator music (or the sounds that doors at the Gap will make in the future when you walk through them — Minority Report anyone?)

The sum of this band is more than its parts. The rhythm section, as any good rhythm section does, drives the tempo which fluctuates wildly, delightfully. And the guitar, the guitar adds a crucial layer of danger.

Yes, danger.

Together, the vibraphone and the rhythm section shift to some funky cat burglar soundtrack. Which is fun, but only slightly dangerous, but when the guitar is added it becomes something far more dangerous, like a James Bond theme that would give Paul McCartney nightmares, or like the soundtrack of a film starring Paul Newman wearing leather pants.

I suppose that none of this is actually that dangerous. Paul McCartney, Paul Newman, and James Bond, like Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, are all pretty harmless creations of various corporate sponsors. But they sure can be entertaining.

The Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival runs until Sunday, July 18. You can find out more information on their website.


Bare branches, bird house.

2 November 2006

  1. Paul · November 2, 2006



    Government of Canada ACOA


    Community Sector Council, Government of Newfoundland & Labrador, College of the North Atlantic


    City of St. John’s


    NL Arts Council, Music NL, Canada Council for the Arts…

    WJB 2010 has every single Government Sponsor that the Sound Symposium has minus Canadian Heritage, if I’m not mistaken.

    Do your homework.

  2. rednal · November 2, 2006

    and rogers.
    and toyota.
    and the sheraton.
    and td canada trust.
    and nlpower.
    and nalcor.
    and boston pizza.
    and technip.
    and whatever national sponsors they could get.

    Which, as Morgan correctly points out, makes for a very different feeling festival. Both featuring great performances, but no one can deny how different they feel.

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