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April In Paris Gypsy Jazz Weekend Is Upon Us! Yay!!
Thursday April 25, 2019

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How did you feel when you watched Notre Dame in flames the other day? I was horrified. I must admit I was struggling to hold back the tears. I've spent many hours in that place over the years, dating back to my first trip in 1977. My most recent visit was in 2012, when Margaret and I found this deserted park just across the river! Even at lunch time there were only a handful of people in there, while the square in front of the cathedral was covered with throngs of tourists and pilgrims. 

Paris, eh? So many iconic buildings; so many wonderful memories. (Check out some of these images I've captured on film down the days.) Like spending a couple of days on a barge on the Seine - just one bridge west of Le Tour Eiffel, or being invited to see The Chieftains at the renowned Olympia Theatre, or hearing Vivaldi's Four Seasons in the glorious stained glass surroundings of La Sainte Chappelle. Another memory that lingers long is of that trip in 1977, when I found my way into a little cafe on Place du Tertre in Montmartre to find a guitar duo playing gypsy jazz, and taking requests on a clothes line - with 10 franc notes attached to the requests by clothes pegs! I was transfixed. Their music took me back to that first LP of Django's music my Dad had brought home over a decade earlier. It was one of the first LPs we had in our house! I knew every track intimately: 10 ear-worms from the war years in occupied Paris, where Django saw out the war and played music to entertain German troops - but above all to instill hope into the hearts of the French people.

Years later, remembering that music, that cafe, and that feeling of liberation and joie de vivre as I'd wandered those cobbled streets hearing those sounds, I was delighted to find a cluster of amazing bands in and around Vancouver playing music inspired by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. So much so that The Rogue presented our first April In Paris festival of gypsy jazz at St. James Hall back in 2007. Every April since then we've carried on that tradition, with bands ranging from legendary guitarist John Jorgenson and his Quintet to the brilliant Montreal guitarists Denis Chang and his Quartet, and Christine Tassan et Les Imposteures; from Seattle's Pearl Django and Hot Club Sandwich, to Victoria's Caravan (Daniel Lapp with The Bills), and Brishen, and above all fabulous Vancouver combos like Van DjangoDeanna Knight & The Hot Club Of MarsLache Cercel & Roma SwingCompany B Jazz Band, and Hornby Island's Marc Atkinson Trio. (Check out my photographic catalogue of the first 12 editions of April In Paris!)

The Bills, Friday April 26th, 8pm, at St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

“The Bills are the biggest blast of fresh air to come out of Canada since The Band” - Glasgow Herald

We start things off with an evening of acoustic magic with The Bills. The Bills are known for their acoustic styles, but for this very special show, the award-winning Canadian folk-roots quintet will showcase their deep and renowned compositions inspired by European/Romany jazz. Strings, bellows, keys, voices, skin and bows – these are the vehicles for The Bills’ unique sonic approach. With individual band members sporting world-class credentials in folk/roots, jazz, classical and world music, The Bills truly are a Canadian acoustic music super-group, and their combined creative studio talent and explosive live shows have made them legendary folk/roots entertainers. Featuring players and soloists like Richard Moody on the violin, Adrian Dolan on accordion, and Marc Atkinson on the guitar, listeners will be enchanted and uplifted by the romance and deep swing conjured up by this quintet of passionate players.

This event is a co-presentation with our good friends at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival (July 19th - 21st). Tickets for the 2019 VFMF will be available at this show.

This just in from The Bills! "Hey hey Vancouver! See you this Friday at the fabulous April in Paris Festival (Rogue Folk Club). Here we are (3/5 of us!) warming up our hot swing/Romany/Euro roots side. Tell all your friends!"

Click here for Tickets and more Information.

Deanna Knight & The Hot Club Of Mars, plus The Lawless Firm, Saturday April 27th, 8pm, at St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

 The Hot Club of Mars is Vancouver's most eclectic gypsy swing ensemble. Travel back in time to the early acoustic swing era of the 1920's & 30's and experience one of Vancouver's most celebrated gypsy-jazz ensembles. Chanteuse Deanna Knight provides sassy and sultry vocals alongside the driving rhythms and hot solos of Michael Dunn and The Hotties. Rooted deeply in the rhythms of Django Reinhardt, this unique ensemble adds to a traditional sound with melody, charm and loads of fun. You will enjoy a clever repertoire, spanning a full century from historical tangos written in the early 1900's to contemporary songs of today.  Deanna weaves her lyrical magic around swing classics, tangos, bossa, boogie and original compositions. Described as “stand out, unmistakable and smooth as fine whiskey” Knight celebrates over 18 years with multi-instrumentalist and ace luthier Michael Dunn and the Hot Club boys (Mark Dowding on flute, sax and harmonica;  Steve “Bugsy” Szabo and Don Kellett on guitars; and Joe Bourchier on bass) who use their Hawaiian, resonator, and Gypsy-jazz guitars to “slice and dice 50 shades of swing with admirable gusto.” Special guest will be Miss Devora Laye on saw and washboard.

The Lawless Firm is the new Gypsy jazz group on the block, made up of several musicians from disparate bands. Guitarist Michael Dunn has been a fixture in the Gypsy jazz world in Vancouver from its beginnings in the late sixties. Don Ogilvie, whose guitar playing mastery is firmly rooted in the Gypsy style, has played in more groups than anyone can count. He has partnered with Michael on and off for just about 40 years. Their newest discovery is Edgar Bridwell. Edgar played with the late Ray Condo and his repertoire includes anything from Mendelssohn to Grappelli and whatever else he can get set his bow to. Joe Bourchier is a journeyman bassist, and chanteuse Eleanore Dunn possesses an "old fashioned voice" ideally suited to the music of the 1920's-1940's. The group will feature some original Django pieces seldom heard as well as a few surprises. This year they offer up the Canadian premiere of a Bolero that was composed by Django in 1937. It is actually a "classical" piece that has never been performed on this side of the ocean. They will have cellist Brian Samuels as a guest to perform this piece, which will be their grand finale.

There will be some swing dancers in attendance and we encourage you to join them on the sprung dance floor! For tickets and information click here.

Van Django, Sunday April 28th, 8pm, at St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

We wrap up this year's festival with a special Sunday concert of new selections of Django tunes and popular favourites with Van Django, who released their 4th CD, Hotel Europe, at last year's event. Budge Schachte (guitar), Brent Gubbels (bass), Finn Manniche (guitar, cello), and Cam Wilson (violin) make amazing music together! Their arrangements of Django classics are exemplary, and they can convert everything from Beethoven to The Beatles - with ALL stops in between - into instant gypsy jazz classics! Come on down and be surprised, amazed, and massively entertained! Tickets and info here

April In Paris is a full weekend of music to put a smile on your face and have you tapping your toes and maybe even getting up to dance! Why not? Come and celebrate the defiant music and definitive style of occupied Paris - without any of the dark clouds of war to get in the way! It may be April in Vancouver, but it's also April In Paris right here at The Rogue