Zeuski’s goes guitar mad 

Who: Jerry Legar

Where: Zeuski’s Taverna

When: Tuesday and Wednesday nights all summer

You’d think it would be the $4.50 margaritas or the $11 jugs that draw the crowds to Zeuski’s this summer, but it seems Vancouver’s own guitar virtuoso, Jerry Legar is having something to do with the packed patio these days.

"We’re getting phone calls from people asking when’s Jerry playing next," said Zeuski’s floor manager, Jack Glackmeyer. "It’s actually busier when he’s here, which is great for us, especially mid-week."

So just who is Jerry Legar? He’s a guitarist. He’s a singer (although his Zeuski’s gig is without vocals). He’s a composer, a producer, a promoter, a teacher and one very lively personality. He might win over crowds with his Mediterranean-inspired renditions of easy rock and smooth listening hits but his friendly nature and effortless ability to talk to the tables of guests around him has made him a welcome addition to the bustling Greek taverna.

"I’m absolutely loving these gigs," said Legar on a break at the bar last Tuesday night. "I’ve got carte blanche from management to do whatever I want musically and the international, fun-loving audience are so receptive to it. I can do Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time followed by Little Wayne and even a toned down Jimi Hendrix tune. What more could a musician ask for?"

Perhaps a bigger stage, if Legar’s legacy is anything to go by. The classically-trained guitarist works regularly with many other musicians, as either a colleague or coach. The Saskatchewan native went to music school in Saskatoon, Banff and L.A., learned the hard discipline of jazz in Vancouver and was even privately tutored by Pat Coleman in Toronto and Jack Peterson in Dallas.

"I went to so many schools because I had a huge thirst for learning everything I could about music – all types of music. I couldn’t pick just one," said Legar. "When I was in high school I loved country, rock and folk. Then it was jazz and in the ’80s when I lived in L.A. it was blues. The schooling was all necessary for me to do what I do now, which is a bit of everything. I guess you could sum me up as eclectic."

That’s a good word for Legar. He plays everything from Tennessee waltz, Brazilian jazz, the Delta blues to Stevie Wonder and Shakira. He’s put out several albums including one specifically for film and movie soundtracks called Blue Planet , which despite being 10-years-old is still quite popular today.

"I did the Blue Planet collection with k.d. Lang’s musical director, Teddy Borowicki who is an amazing accordian player and pianist. The music is just timeless," he said.

The album on sale at his Zeuski’s gigs is one he did as one part of the Guitar Brothers, a well known musical group in Vancouver and Whistler several years ago. Titled So Far So Good , the collection of original compositions is something he is extremely proud of.

"The Guitar Brothers opened the Crab Shack back in the day and we also played Black’s before they had that brilliant patio. We came up here a lot," he said.

And now he’s back. But solo in a gig that he’s wont to give up.

"I’ve been playing here a few weeks now and I just find it so perfect for me. I get to escape the hustle and bustle of Vancouver two nights a week and play on the most beautiful patio I’ve ever played on."

Now that’s saying something, because Legar has played in the real Mediterranean, not just a restaurant celebrating it.

"I did a few gigs in Cannes and playing here takes me back to those glorious days on the Riviera. The atmosphere here is just like that. Very international, very open and everything is spontaneous," said Legar.

He’s not far off the mark. In the brief time Legar was in action last Tuesday night, several people who appeared to come for a drink, settled in to stay the night once they saw Legar.

Get swept away yourself every Tuesday and Wednesday night during summer from 7 to 10 p.m.


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