The Staggers & Jaggs get the crowd dancing 

Vancouver gypsy-swing band play the Cypress Point Winter Carnival on Sunday (Feb. 11)

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Swing time The Staggers & Jaggs are set to headline the Cypress Point Winter Carnival on Sunday (Feb. 11).
  • PHOTO submitted
  • Swing time The Staggers & Jaggs are set to headline the Cypress Point Winter Carnival on Sunday (Feb. 11).

Vancouver concert-goers might have a reputation for being a stiff, sedated bunch, but it seems The Staggers & Jaggs have found the formula to get them dancing.

"To be honest it's pretty surprising to me," says Conrad Shynkar, who co-fronts the band. "Just the way people react to the music. To see the people dance the way they do, they really boogie."

One listen to the gypsy-swing band's mile-a-minute songs, ripped straight from the 1930s, and it's not hard to see why. Their unique sound also spans demographics. "We play a mix of shows from community events to punk rock shows," Shynkar said. "Little kids to elderly people, everybody gets excited and moves around. It blows my mind. I didn't see it coming."

He can, however, look into the crowd and see the wheels turning as someone decides they're going to cast aside inhibitions. "You can see that moment where it breaks from a head bob to, 'no, no, I'm dancing,'" he says, with a laugh.

While Shynkar and keyboardist Blake Mackay have been performing in bands together for several years, the rest of the group has been a rotating cast — until the current lineup, which includes singer Sabrina Robson, viola player Anni de Groot and bass player Shannon Marie.

"We went through five years of different players, hanging out and playing music, and eventually this group of people just stuck," Shynkar says.

The band has put out some EPs, but with a self-titled full-length album now behind them and another record on the way — due out in the spring — they're ready to expand their following. "We trip around in the summertime," Shynkar says. "So far (we've toured) B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. This next year we're talking about going through the States or Europe, if we can swing that."

Where their first album was recorded in one shot over four hours, they're taking a little more time with their sophomore release. "It's about 85 per cent done," Shynkar said. "It's cool doing it this way... for this one we're taking our time with and putting a bunch of vocal harmonies and extra nick knacks."

Whistlerites will have a chance to hear some of those new tracks — mixed with the old — when the group closes out the fifth annual Cypress Point Winter Carnival at The Point Artist-Run Centre on Sunday (Feb. 11).

And if the band looks like they're having as much fun as the crowd, it's not an act, Shynkar said. "It's funny, one of the things that hits me about this band is that it's really nice getting to a show," he said. "We're coming from different directions and different places with our personal lives — we've been twisted up and had a weird day and then we get on stage and it's almost therapeutic. We let go of everything."

Tickets for the show are $15, or $30 with dinner. Get them at or at Armchair Books.


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