Best of Vancouver: Music

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      Best way to mix Christmas and Keef for a good cause

      One of Vancouver’s most anticipated Christmas concerts is Keithmas, held every year to celebrate Keith Richards’s birthday and raise much-needed funds for the Vancouver Food Bank. The gig always features the cream of the city’s rock ’n’ roots talent, with local legend Rich Hope leading the way, but this year’s lineup is still under wraps.

      Keithmas 2020 will be livestreamed from the mighty Rickshaw Theatre on Friday, December 18.

      Best live-venue pandemic response

      Partly because of the fiercely independent guy who runs it, the Rickshaw might be the most beloved live venue in Vancouver. So when rooms across the city were forced to shut down due to COVID-19, the Downtown Eastside spot was arguably the place music fans worried about most. Virtually every other club in the city operates under the umbrella of a corporate overlord.

      At the Rickshaw, it’s owner Mo Tarmohamed who has kept the lights on for the past decade. If you’ve been deafened by Deafheaven, floored by Daughters, or had six Pabst Blue Ribbons too many at Keithmas, you have Tarmohamed’s devotion to live music to thank.

      During lockdown, the Rickshaw’s commitment to Vancouver’s music scene has continued with livestreamed shows by the likes of Buckman Coe, Unleash the Archers, and Black Wizard.

      But the venue’s coolest initiative might be the way it’s gone all-in on merch, with Vancouverites stepping up with their credit cards as a way to support the club. We’re talking Rickshaw-branded tote bags, snap-back hats, long-sleeve Ts, hoodies, and bandanas.

      Pick up an item at the Rickshaw website and you not only give back to the venue but you look 200 times cooler than the guy wearing the Big Bamboo muscle T in the Budgie’s Burritos lineup.

      Best way to experience the backwoods vibe of Mississippi without heading south

      If COVID-19 has put the kibosh on your lifelong dream to drive down to Mississippi and lose yourself in the Delta blues, there’s a way to experience the authentic sound of that region without even bursting your social bubble.

      Robert Connely Farr is now based in Vancouver, but he grew up in the small southern town of Bolton, Mississippi, home of Charley Patton and the Mississippi Sheiks. He was mentored in the Bentonia style of the Delta blues by the legendary Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, and that sound is tastily served up on his new album, Country Supper, currently available for download.

      Best way to beat the blues

      It’s a known fact that listening to the blues can help you beat the blues. It’s known to us, at least, and Steve Kozak proves the point on a weekly basis with his Wednesday Night Blues & Brews series at Pat’s Pub. Every hump night, the singer-guitarist hooks up with keyboardist Mike Kalanj, bassist Roger Brant, and drummer John Nolan for some down-home blues aimed at helping folks cope with the crazy times. Music starts at 6:30 p.m., safety protocols are in place, and there’s no cover.

      Best way to tap into your inner Van Halen

      The music world lost arguably the greatest rock guitarist of all time last month with the passing of Eddie Van Halen, who inspired countless millions to pick up guitars and play. If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to hold a shiny new electric guitar in your hands, maybe now’s the time to find out.

      For those about to rock with $2,349 to blow, local musical-instrument specialists Long & McQuade can hook you up with an iconic EVH Striped Series Frankie—sporting Eddie’s famed paint job: red with black-and-white stripes. So even if you can’t play guitar worth beans, it sure will look like you can.

      Best shutdown silver lining

      We all claim to love live music, but let’s admit that there have been times when we’ve been too flat-out lazy to leave the house. That explains missing the Velvet Underground at the Retinal Circus, the White Stripes at the Pic Pub, and Travis Scott at the Waldorf Hotel.

      While the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly brutal for venues like the Rickshaw, Vogue, and Biltmore—not to mention the artists who play them—there has been a small sliver of positivity. Pretty quickly, artists realized that when fans can’t come to them, they go to the fans.

      As a result, livestreamed shows have turned into a viable way for Dan Mangan, Jill Barber, and Veda Hille to continue to play music and connect with their fans—not just in Vancouver but beyond. The truly great thing? It doesn’t matter if you’re too lazy to get off the couch; that won’t stop you from missing out. Unlike that time you were too lazy to make the two-block walk to hear Orville Peck at the WISE Hall.