Poppy Family Experience to headline West 4th Avenue's Khatsahlano fest

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It seemed like every worthwhile band in Vancouver was crammed onto one of the numerous stages at last year’s Khatsahlano festival, right? Wrong!

When the biggest block party in the city returns to West 4th Avenue on July 12, punters are in for yet another 50 or so acts, with—deep breath, now—Humans, Lightning Dust, Bend Sinister, Aidan Knight, the Evaporators, Inherent Vices, Jay Arner, Jody Glenham, Geoff Berner Trio, Nicholas Krgovich, Nü Sensae, Phil Western, Piggy, Shawn Mrazek Lives!, Tough Age, the Wayward Hearts, White Poppy, the Wild North, Young Braised, and Young Liars included on a roster that’s every bit as impressive as last summer’s.

Most amazing of all is that Arrival Agency honcho Tom Anselmi has managed to coax the Poppy Family’s Susan Jacks—along with original guitarist Craig McCaw and percussionist Satwant Singh (although not coleader Terry Jacks)—into Khatsahlano 2014’s headlining slot, under the name the Poppy Family Experience. They’ll be joined by a crack band featuring John Collins and Kurt Dahle of the New Pornographers, Destroyer’s Ted Bois, and Josh Wells and Amber Webber of Lightning Dust (and Black Mountain).

“I’ve been working on this for a few years and basically just every six months or so I’d call Craig McCaw and pester him,” Anselmi told the Straight. “I always envisioned those musicians because they’re all excited about the Poppy Family and I hear their influence in that music. And I think the Poppy Family are part of the same lineage of great Vancouver bands that those three bands also belong to. They have a uniquely Vancouver sound. There’s a darkness to the music and a specialness that really only could have come from Vancouver. It’s got a rainy feeling to it, you know?”

Anselmi said the set will focus on the Poppy Family’s classic 1969 debut album, which included Jacks and her cohorts’ first international hit, “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?”. He added: “It’s amazing that the BIA is giving us the opportunity to do something that’s so close to Kitsilano’s roots.”

Indeed, the synthesis of the old and the new appeals to Jane McFadden. “Isn’t it cool?” said the CEO of the Kitsilano 4th Avenue Business Improvement Association, in a separate call to the Straight.

Besides offering “a big draw for people from Kitsilano from years ago”, McFadden noted that such a broad cross-section of music is partly why there were over 118,000 visitors to last year’s edition. “Yeah, and I imagine even more this year,” she said, adding: “The merchants, I can tell, they love it, they step up, and so does the community at large.”

Organizers (also including, for the first time, John Donnelly and Associates) are still finalizing all of the music, but the Grapes of Wrath, the Graham Brown Band, Woolworm, Hard Rock Miners, Holy Hum, Mac Pontiac, Mesa Luna, and original Vancouver punks the Furies will also perform.

Added to that will be the 12 finalists in this year’s Peak Performance Project (to be announced in June), along with last year’s winner, Rykka.

Among the other highlights this year: a retrospective of the work of artist Jim Cummins, titled Return to Planet X: The Underground World of Jim Cummins and I, Braineater, plus three beer gardens, extended patio licences, a selection of the city’s best food trucks, a long-boarding competition, and—if last year was any indication—a whole bunch of sunshine.

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