Music lovers descend on Gastown for Make Music Vancouver

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      You can thank the French for this one. On June 21, 1982, Paris played host to an event called Fête de la Musique, which saw thousands of musicians, amateurs and professionals alike, take to the streets to welcome summer, get crowds dancing, and generally celebrate music itself. In subsequent years, the idea spread to other cities in France and beyond, and similar events are now held annually in more than 450 cities around the globe.

      Vancouver became one of them in 2011, with separate “Make Music” events organized in Yaletown and Gastown.

      For this year’s Gastown edition, which takes place Friday between 5 and 10 p.m., several blocks of Water Street will be closed to vehicular traffic, with more than 150 acts slated to perform. The event has been organized by Vancouver en Français and the Alliance Française de Vancouver (in association with the Gastown Business Improvement Association), but in spite of that—and its origins in the land of Brie and baguettes—Make Music Vancouver’s target audience is, well, everyone.

      “It comes from France, but we don’t want people to think that it’s French,” MMV communications committee member Laure Sabini told the Straight in a telephone interview. “That’s why we actually called it Make Music Vancouver and not Fête de la Musique, otherwise we knew that people would think it’s French, and that only if you’re related to France, or that you like France, that you would go.”

      The range of music on tap is diverse, and includes the psychobilly of the Dragstrip Devils, the gutbucket blues-rock of this is THE SHOES, the Brazilian percussion of Bloco Energia, the midnight-carnival jazz of Murder Dove, the new-wave Americana of Edmonton Block Heater, the melancholy confessionals of Violet Height, the aboriginal gospel of M’Girl, the high-energy synth pop of Miss You in Tuques, the melodic alt-rock of Cry of Silence, the quirky indie pop of Alexandria Maillot, the eclectic world beat of Turkish-born Serkan Sogukpinar, the body-moving electronica of Dark Arps, the feel-good folk pop of The Land of Deborah, and the adrenalized punk of Struck a Nerve. Oh, and something called Sage of the Mangled, which describes itself as “dry happy working graceful zombie eating death infatuated living time bomb exhilarating up town love trip disco warrior legend to bees”.

      Admission to Make Music Vancouver is free, and Sabini said its presenters are hoping that 30,000 or so music lovers will hit Water Street on Friday. “Last year there was about 25,000,” she noted, “so we’re hoping for more and more every year.”

      She also revealed that organizers aim to expand Make Music Vancouver, making it a true citywide celebration. “With this year’s event we’re trying to get more sponsors so that someone can take it over and we can have it in more places than just Gastown or Yaletown,” Sabini said.

      For the complete lineup of artists and all other details, visit


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      David Eaman

      Jun 20, 2013 at 10:38am

      Thanx for the effort, Make Music, but it needs work. Last year, musicians were crammed into spaces side-by-side and solo singer-songwriters with an acoustic guitar had to do battle with an angry metal band beside them. Not fair unless you warn single acts to bring a few thousand watts of battery-operated amplifiers with them (oh, and free earplugs for the masses).
      Play on!!


      Jun 20, 2013 at 4:31pm

      Totally agree David...otherwise a great event!

      No play free

      Jun 21, 2013 at 7:15am

      The bars and food vendors will make a killing
      Musicians will make Nothing


      Jun 21, 2013 at 7:16am

      Banned by
      Denver Musucians Union

      Local Resident

      Jun 21, 2013 at 12:28pm

      Actually last year, the local merchants weren't included in the planning, were often forced to endure some terrible acts that had no business being there and in some cases had the entrances to their businesses blocked by people taking in the free entertainment while effectively discouraging regular customers. If you're going to come down for the music, stay for the food, wine and cocktails. The music can be inconsistent but the hospitality is not.


      Jun 21, 2013 at 6:51pm

      What a mess of an event! Imagine being in a room full of opera singers all practicing at the same time. Except here it's heavy metalish bands all drowning each other out just a few yards away from each other. Many of the people I see walking through Gastown look like they're in shock and are too polite to cover their ears but really want to. Since I live in the area I have to listen to this noise for 5 hours. Those who don't live in the area best stay away. Please, no more next year! PLEASE. Horrible, horrible, horrible!!!!!!!

      St Hellen

      Jun 21, 2013 at 11:20pm

      So how was it?