Make Music Vancouver transforms Gastown

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      Optimus Prime is bringing his blues act to Gastown.

      Next Wednesday (June 25), actor Garry Chalk gets back on-stage with a battered guitar after spending the last 25 years in film, television, and voice work. To Transformers freaks, he’s famed for playing the Autobot leader in franchise entries the Unicron trilogy.

      Robot wars aside, Chalk is just one of 100-plus performers transforming Gastown into a car-free music festival when Make Music Vancouver returns to Water Street for its fourth year running.

      Coming to you courtesy of Vancouver en Français and the Alliance Française de Vancouver, Make Music Vancouver is one of 450 similar events worldwide inspired by La Fête de la Musique, which began in France in 1982. Attendance has topped 20,000 people in Vancouver, with 20 stages crammed into those three blocks of Water between Carrall and Cordova streets.

      “There were more tents the first year [2011], but it was kind of crazy,” said communications director Laure Sabini, in a call to the Straight. “We could have more bands this year because there are so many musicians volunteering for this event. But we’re all volunteer-based, so it’s a huge event for the number of people working on it, and we can’t do more, unfortunately. We’d like to.”

      Well, more than 100 artists for free isn’t too shabby. Every genre imaginable is represented, from jazz-funk (Deep Seated) to rock (the Rekkening), rock ’n’ roll (Anything But), Caribbeana (the Unified), alt-country (the Pernell Reichert Band), hip-hop (Whiskaz), and even Mexican folk (Monika Schwartzman).

      It sounds like Sabini’s head is swimming when she’s asked if she has a favourite. “Oh, there’s so many,” she says with a sigh.

      More information is at the Make Music website.

      Follow Adrian Mack on Twitter at @adrianmacked.