Canada Day music mania 

Whistler goes live to celebrate national pride

There’s no better, or more justifiable reason to party than in the name of national pride. That’s an excuse even the tightest-assed citizens can get behind.

Whistler never needs a reason to party but Canada Day, our great country’s official birthday, is special nonetheless. Living in a tourism industry-driven town, Canada Day is the one chance for Whistler’s Canadians to proudly, shamelessly proclaim the true identity of this gorgeous cranny of the world to all those who, despite traveling here, don’t even know we have our own currency.

And for those who are here for a good time, not a long-time, it’s a chance to really toast this great place – one that is worth the trip from afar to experience – shoulder to shoulder with the locals that make it worth experiencing.

Yeah, every year on July 1, red-blooded Canadian guys and gals bleed a little bit redder still and party like it’s 1867. And all over town, the bars, pubs and clubs answer the call.

This year is no different.

For those that like to have their first beer before their morning Pro-Stars have completely digested, the Longhorn will be kicking off their Canada Day festivities as soon as the doors open. The party central patio and bar will feature all-day DJs, prize giveaways, imported eye candy in the form of Molson models, and a host of dumb-drunk games such as the intriguing-sounding "wet beaver toss." The fun keeps going until closing. If you can make it that long.

Across Skier’s Plaza at the Dubh Linn Gate Pub things get going around 1 p.m. Resident musician Rob Thompson will be joined by a variety of guest players to soundtrack endless Canada Day pint-raisings in the pub and on the patio. Thompson will also play an evening set with banjo-picking partner Cam Salay – a duo better known around these parts as The Bowen Boys, who never disappoint, even on far less celebratory occasions.

Up the hill at Merlin’s the fun starts with afternoon sets by Greg Willy and local legends The Hairfarmers. The well-known duo of "Grateful Greg" Reamsbottom and "Guitar Doug" Craig have turned the acoustic a.m. radio-rock set into an art form and Merlin’s has always been one of their best galleries. The ’Farmers will take it into the evening only to give it up to local jam rockers Downtown Jay Brown and the White Guy, who will sign, seal and deliver the night for still-standing Merlin’s patrons.

For those who have been partying all afternoon, Chinese food will undeniably be a genius idea. So it’s a stroke of good fortune that Creekside-based Joey Chan’s restaurant is getting into the Canada Day groove with chow mein and buffet specials and live music starting at around 4 p.m. by local reggae ruler Kosta Man, DJ Phroh and acoustic duo Jolene and Jay.

Getting down to Creekside is an even better plan when it’s taken into account that nowhere in Whistler will rock like Dusty’s that night.

The bar is going loud for Canada Day with Whistler’s own high-octane Zeppelin tribute act Whole Lotta Led, a band that needs no introduction for most local rockers. Led puts on one helluva show, fronted by Creekside Phil Richard’s unbelievable mastery of all riffs Page and the dead-ringer Plant wails of Greg Reamsbottom, who will reincarnate for the evening following his afternoon Hairfarmers set at Merlin’s. The night will start out with the national anthem blasting through a Marshall stack amp courtesy of Phil, an electric guitar and a cello bow. It promises to make everyone there spontaneously give birth… to a bunch of little Canadians of course.

Those who remain in the village will have plenty of places to play and plenty of music to rock out to. Whistler reggae band Living Room is holding down the stage at the Crystal Lounge, one of their favourite haunts. Friend of humanity and über-talented multi-instrumentalist Rob Funk is staying loyal to Black’s Pub, although he will appear on the patio at Tapley’s in the afternoon.

Following Funk, Tapley’s will keep the music going in the evening with acoustic rocker Sam Adams. Around the corner at Moe Joe’s, regular Friday night cover band Last Call will keep doing their rock ’n’ roll duty.

In the Upper Village cozy BBK’s Pub goes live with a special Canada Day set by Rockin’ Randy Phelan, former owner of Whistler Music and a longtime presence on the local scene.

If it’s less rock, more hip-hop that you seek, swing by the Savage Beagle, which is bringing in VanCity’s Party Killah crew, featuring DJs Neoteric, Moves, Rhek and Brand mixing up old and new school hip-hop, breaks, neo-soul and hot club bangers.

And if that ain’t enough for all you Canucks and Canucks-by-association, there’s always the fine Canadian girls of Das Boot Ballet. You know they’ve got to be Canadian these days what with the difficulties Romanian strippers are facing getting work permits due to a certain cabinet minister’s free hand.

God bless this great country.

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