After half a decade of perfecting the fine art of party rocking, one should expect from a band one heck of a good time.
So then take it from Vancouver's Blackberry Wood: they can, and will, rock that party. There's the odd time when it's more work than it should be but as trumpeter/saxophonist Jenny Garters says, "We end up getting through."
She's sitting with guitarist/vocalist Kris Wood at Continental Coffee on Commercial Drive — a fitting locale, you see, for this is a Commercial Drive band through and though. Wood grew up near Vancouver's bohemian centre. He started the band here with his girlfriend Corinne five years ago. Their music, a sort of bohemian beat with gypsy flourishes, seems a product of a neighbourhood that relishes in left field. It has been the incubator for what Blackberry Wood has become.
"One of the big things is a lot of artists on Commercial Drive care a lot about what they're doing. They care about music, they care about the arts. They care, so it's nurturing," Wood says.
Garters who joined the band two years ago after answering a wanted ad at UBC while studying music, says: "The area is its own little bubble that kind of entertains itself."
Not that the band relishes in entertaining itself. It's the kind of music that will hold over in any venue, big or small. As it happens, Blackberry Wood is the kind of band that will rock out at Glastonbury one weekend, then play a crowded art studio opening the next.
They're on the road half the year, playing organic farm parties in Chase or brawn-filled clubs in Kelowna. Either way, they'll have the audience, at some point in the night, flat on their backs doing "bicycle" — peddling their feet in the air as if they're riding invisible bicycles.
Theirs is a thrilling live show renowned for its audience participation and they have only one objective in mind, as we say, to ensure that you, Mr/Ms Audience Member, are having one heck of a good time.
"We want to rock a party," Garters says. "We turn any kind of party into a rock party. That's our philosophy."
Their first album, Travelling Horse Opry, was a gypsy-folk soiree with a jazzy décor. The album earned praise around Vancouver, with The Province lauding the band for their cackling onstage energy.
They're now putting the final touches on their still-untitled sophomore album, which they hope to release sometime this summer. Recorded at Greenhouse Studios in Vancouver with ex-Odds member Steven Drake, Wood says it's "more rock and roll" than their debut and rawer than anything they've done until now. The band's lineup has shifted since the first album was recorded and so the new one is more of a reflection of what Blackberry Wood does in 2012.
"We're just trying to capture the new sound that we've created with everybody," says Garter. "The old album is amazing but it's just the old band. Now we have a new band and a new album and we want to present it to the world."
In the meantime, Blackberry Wood will be playing a handful of shows in B.C., including the Test of Metal after party at the Howe Sound Brew Pub this Saturday. There's no cover so there's very few excuses for not sauntering over for a listen. You might just end up on your back, along with everyone else, fully engaged in that bicycle we were talking about...
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