Return of live shows has local entertainment professionals feeling giddy

Five B.C. entertainment professionals provide a look-ahead to what they are most excited about for this fall

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After almost a year with no in-person music other than the buskers in front of the local liquor store or a mix of good-to-grim live streams, the return of in-person concerts is a thrill.

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Music lovers are celebrating the return of group gatherings by scooping up tickets at lightning speeds and selling out everything from small venue gigs to arenas.

But what about the players and the people behind the scenes that make the music happen? What are our talented local artists and dedicated entertainment industry types looking forward to in the coming months. No doubt those who make music are also likely to like hearing others make it too.

Postmedia asked five B.C. entertainment professionals to provide a look-ahead list for the coming month’s concert calendar. Here’s hoping we aren’t back in lockdown with another massive COVID-19 variant wave in the fall.

Vancouver-based actor/singer/composer Amanda Sum.
Vancouver-based actor/singer/composer Amanda Sum. Photo by Colin Willistoncroft /PNG

Amanda Sum

As her website proclaims, Sum works in theatre, music, and other antics.

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That explains why audiences have seen her grace stages performing in everything from Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto to do you want what i have got?, a craigslist cantata at the Cultch.

She has also been adding to her list of musical accomplishments by releasing delightful indie-pop singles with great videos for her original tunes such as Groupthink and Hot Headed Egos. At the moment, she isn’t scheduled to appear on any concert stages, but there is no doubt you’ll see her belting out soon.

Sum is all over some local groups with shows coming:

“I’m stoked about Only a Visitor at the Firehall on August 8! The last time I heard them live was in March 2020, while performing Double Happiness: Detour Thus Way together at Left of Main in Chinatown. Pandemic lockdown set in midway through the run, so it’ll be a nice full circle moment for OAV to be one of my first introductions back to live music. They were the last band I heard play before all this. Plus the Firehall has some funny ghost stories.

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“I’m also looking forward to the remaining Songs of Summer sets at Gateway Theatre. In August, Jason Sakaki and Tiana Jung, and in September, Krystle Dos Santos and Steffanie Davis.


Vancouver singer/songwriter Debra-Jean Creelman.
Vancouver singer/songwriter Debra-Jean Creelman. PNG

Debra-Jean Creelman

Singer/songwriter Creelman just released her latest full-length album. Titled Threshold, it’s a gorgeous collection of heartfelt and emotional material which showcases her impressive vocal chops as well as plenty of lush, complex orchestration.

A familiar face on local stages performing her original material as well as sitting in with many top local acts, every chance to hear her stretch out is a welcome one.

With the new album out, the next plans for her own stuff is to take collaborators Jo Hirabayashi (Jo Passed) and Sean Cronin (Very Good) to New York City in January to work with acclaimed songwriter/producer/bassist Tony Scherr. She’s planning on gigging too.

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Creelman is going to catch a friend’s band with one of her indie faves:

“My buddy Louise Burns’ other band Gold and Youth, is opening for Chad Vangaalen at The Rickshaw on Sep. 11. He’s one of my faves, and I’ve yet to see him live — so I will likely emerge from my hermit cave to see that show. Also there’s a chance that Peggy Lee Band will do a show if drummer Dylan van der Schyff ever comes home from Australia. Will def hit that one up if it happens.”


Neil Osborne of 54.40 is glad to be back playing and taking in concerts after a very long break.
Neil Osborne of 54.40 is glad to be back playing and taking in concerts after a very long break. Photo by Eric Alper PR /PNG

Neil Osborne

54-40 leader Neil Osborne has been busy over the past year and a half.

He released his offbeat soundscape project Niz Wiz. He and daughter Kandle Osborne also put out the dirty desert blues garage duo A Family Curse. Plus, 54-40s anti-apathy rocker I Go Blind, a global hit for Hootie & the Blowfish, was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021.

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Now the long-lived band is out on the road bringing hits from Baby Ran to Ocean Pearl and others to fans across Canada. The tour winds down with a three night stand at the Commodore Ballroom, Oct. 7 to 9.

Osborne hopes to catch some legends in future:

“Honestly, it is just great to think of the possibility of attending live music events. This past year has been an emotional set back for every performer, so getting to witness the post-COVID massive energy release on stage will be a thrill.

“I always want to see the classic artists that might not come around too many more times. Paul McCartney comes to mind as he approaches 80 with a new album and likely a 2022 tour. Neil Young is different every time and always great. I see Gordon Lightfoot will be in my neighbourhood in November, so I can’t miss that.”

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Mo Tarmohammed, owner of the Rickshaw Theatre.
Mo Tarmohammed, owner of the Rickshaw Theatre. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

Mo Tarmohammed

Rickshaw Theatre owner/operator Tarmohammed has made it to the other end of this pandemic with the doors to his beloved Downtown Eastside venue reopening.

After being shuttered for over a year, the Rickshaw started an aggressive program of live streaming on-demand concerts by everyone from Juno award-winning local metal group Unleash the Archers to moody post-punk crew Actors. To say that he’s happy about being back in business is an understatement. With 10 dates confirmed and more coming every day, it looks as though the Rickshaw will be rocking right into 2022.

While having people in the place is the plan, some lessons learned in the pandemic will carry over. Live streaming isn’t going away. This has out-of-region music fans going “yeah.”

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Tarmohammed has a long list of shows he’s excited to see:

“Frankly, I’m just happy to start presenting live shows again. We have three sold out shows so far in October including two Propagandhi shows and a band from Ukraine called Jinjer. November will see us host local two bands that are on the cusp of really blowing up: Unleash the Archers and ACTORS. We are also hosting D.O.A.’s 40th anniversary of Hardcore 81 in November.

“And in December, we are anticipating our biggest Keithmas — Foodbank Fundrager show ever. This event always sells out; however, this year we are planning a hybrid live show with live streaming so that we can extend our reach even further and increase the amount donated to the Vancouver Food Bank.”

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Parlour Panther is a Vancouver-based queer indie rock duo whose latest album is titled Retrograde.
Parlour Panther is a Vancouver-based queer indie rock duo whose latest album is titled Retrograde. Photo by David Fitzgerald /PNG

Parlour Panther

Rising stars on the local indie pop scene, Parlour Panther has a knack for making anthemic pop that examines the nonbinary queer spouses powerful voices and shimmering harmonies and arrangements.

Where previous work was more self-reflective about queer love and identity, the duo’s new album digs into grief, protest, pandemic apocalypse love and more. Titled Retrograde, the Coax Records release drops in late August.

You can catch Steph Hodgins and Lee Newman playing their hearts out in live versions of singles such as Faded & Happy in a virtual release show on Aug. 20. Info on parlourpanthermusic.com.

Lee Newman picks Arlo Parks, Oct. 9 performance at The Biltmore Cabaret as the show to see this fall.

“Their latest album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, is on repeat at our house, we’re obsessed. The lyricism is poetic, the melodies are beautiful and the vibe is chill and groovy. It is a great album to listen to any time day or night.

“As a queer couple, we are always keen on finding music with queer lyrics — and Arlo Parks really speaks to the queer experience. We can’t wait to see them live at the Biltmore — which is a favourite East Van venue where we also released our first EP Foreign Lust six years ago.”

[email protected]

twitter.com/stuartderdeyn

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