Posts by Dylan Mazur

2013: A Retrospective

One year has gone by since I was welcomed as a contributor to the A-OK team and granted with many fantastic opportunities. In this retrospective I’d like to look back at some of my favorite events and meetings from the past year. More-so than just retreading the events this post will be dedicated to a more personal odyssey of what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown over the last year as a self-proclaimed journalist striving to immerse myself in our rich and vibrant community.   (Click on any of the headlines to be directed to my coverage of that event)

Honorable Mentions:

Keloha, Ecotone, Lille Gard.

Great festivals featuring many great artists and musicians in one place.
Lots of good friends made these fun, memorable times.
A special thanks goes out to all of the people whose hard work made them possible.

Top 5:

#5 – Okanagan Arts Awards

No other time did I get to dress so fancy, act so professional, or feel so exclusive as I did this night. After watching a motivational awards ceremony I got to socialize with with other well dressed supporters and talented achievers while drinking complimentary wine and eating hors d’oeuvres. The party continued on into the night  at Hanna’s Lounge and Grill on the waterfront…

#4 – By Divine Right interview

One of the two interviews I conducted this year with out of town musicians. It was a great experience and honor interviewing indie rock legend Jose Contreras who’s fronted the band throughout its 20 years and 10 albums and has appeared in music videos on MTV in the 90’s. He was really friendly as well, giving me a personal look into the life and times of an established and professional musician.

#3 – Center of Gravity

What I enjoyed most about this event was spending time with my new found friend and acquaintance from Sublime Photography & Design backstage at the media tent and up front in the pit. Having an experienced and professional photographer around helped boost my confidence and passion for the art, and helped me have a lot of fun as well. I also got some rad pictures of big names for my portfolio, and got to shoot my first bikini contest as well. Center of Gravity hosted a smorgasbord of sports which let me step outside my realm of concert photography and realize how fun and challenging different subjects can be.

#2 –‘ Tiger Moon’ video shoot

I’ve always had a strong interest in film, but lack the resources and funds to seriously pursue it on my own. So when I was given the opportunity to film the debut video of local band Tiger Moon’s  song ‘North Highway’ I was thrilled to bits. Along with A-OK’s editor in chief we drove out to a fancy acreage, met the wonderful Kasey Graff and Dan Tait, and shot the video in the loft of their fabulous garage using professional camera equipment. It was a fun time, and seeing the finished product instilled me with the greatest sense of accomplishment yet.

#1 – Festival in a Box

This was probably the least sanctioned of events that I attended this year, but also the funnest. A bunch of great fiends and people gathered together to engage the community and express their talents and art. It poured rain that day, but it didn’t put a damper on the experience and even helped to cement the whole experience in my memory.

This concludes my retrospective of 2013.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I hope it will be as full of friends, fond memories, and opportunities as the last.

Dylan

Sincerely, your friendly neighborhood contributor, Dylan Mazur.

Samantha Savage Smith

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This weekend I was fortunate enough to walk into Calgary musician Samantha Savage Smith’s performance at the Streaming Café on Leon this past Saturday evening. The smooth Jazz/Blues infusion of her voice captured my attention immediately as she sang slow, rhythmic rock love songs, and answered tweets from those streaming the show online. Many of her tunes were off her 2011 debut album ‘Tough Cookie’, along with some new ones. Her album quickly became one of my favorite albums that I picked up this year as I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since.

You can watch the show in its entirety  here on Streaming Café’s website.

 

Monster Energy Center of Gravity 2013

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This weekend Wet Ape Productions hosted their 6th annual Monster Energy Center of Gravity event in downtown City Park. Thousands of people from BC, Alberta and abroad flocked to Kelowna to participate in or spectate at the three day event. Tickets for the event sold out quickly online at around $200 a pop. Individual passes for the sporting and musical sides of things were available.

COGVolleyball/Dunk Contest/Break Dancing

The musical line-up, catering to party goers, consisted of DJ’s, rappers, and rock stars. Like Keloha, another Wet Ape Productions festival hosted earlier this summer, MECOG2013 featured several stages. The Beach Stage was a 19+ beer garden that hosted the Bikini Model Search on Saturday and Sunday, the Dirt Stage hosted live music throughout the weekend, and the Sun FM Main Stage hosted all the major DJ’s including world renowned artist Tiësto.

COG Sunday 020Bikini Contest Finalists

The festival was also a great place to catch a wide arrangement of sporting events in one place. Competitions consisted of “Best Trick”, “Best Line”, and “Tournament”. Several areas were dedicated to their particular sports. The Dirt Zone featured massive dirt jumps for Mountain Bike and Moto Cross sports, The Water Zone had pools and jumps for Wake Board and Wake Skating, Urban Zone was a course that hosted Skateboarding, BMX, and Break Dancing, Hot Sands had Volleyball and Hoop Zone had basketball.

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Wake Boarding/Mountain Biking

Like at Keloha there were plenty of vendors and merchandise tables. The layout of the grounds was a bit awkward with limited walking paths to get between areas, usually separated by fences or tents, but it’s understandable considering the scope of COG.  Throughout my time there I witnessed a few athletes take some spills and cuts (one which occurred at the Urban Zone was particularly bad) and I think that medical atttention could be improved for next year. Security presence was up to par with plenty of contractual support and police officers patrolling the grounds and it felt pretty safe for spectators. The event is intended as an all ages outing and I highly recommend families to come out and attend the sporting events during the day, but the music portion of the festival is undoubtedly a bigger draw for adult audiences.

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Lights

The full line-up for the festival was as follows:

  • TIESTO, KASKADE
  • Dada Life, Wolfgang Gartner, Cazzette, Tommy Lee & DJ Aero w/ SOFI, Lights, Just Blaze
  • Hopsin, Hoodie Allen, CLOCKWORK, Le Castle Vania, DVBBS, Keys N Krates, Robbie Rivera
  • Prok & Fitch, Project 46, LOUDPVCK, M O D, MAK J, Manufactured Superstars
  • The Wild, Kytami, Mishap & Phonik Ops, Kai Sky Walker, Cityreal, Immaculate

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Just Blaze

After the gates were closed festival goers could continue the party at the COG House, Kelowna’s very own Curling Club transformed into a night club with more live DJ’s spinning tunes until late into the night. Afterwards people could get home or to their hotels safely thanks to a shuttle program put in place specifically for the festival that ran to stops and hotels along the highway. It’s easy to see why Center of Gravity is “Canada’s Hottest Beach Festival”.

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Tiësto

Interview with By Divine Right

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Canadian alternative indie band By Divine Right played Fernando’s pub last night as part of their coast to coast tour promoting their ninth album, ‘Organized Accidents’.  Formed in 1989, the group’s only consistent member has been original founder Jose Contreras, well-known for leading the alternative rock revolution throughout the nineties, and for his collaborations with other big name Canadian artists. Past members of By Divine Right have included Brendan Canning and Feist. BDR now plays as a trio with Jose accompanied by drummer Geordie Dynes and his nanny Alysha Haugen on bass. After the show I got to catch up with Jose for a quick off-the-cuff interview.

When you started By Divine Right in 1989 where did you want it to go? What were your intentions?
I thought BDR would be a mostly improvisational Psychedelic band. When I was younger I was so influenced by the 80’s, I had a band that was synthesisers and drum machines, then at one point I saw Apocalypse Now and I heard the Doors again so I started listening to all of my 60’s albums and realized I loved the 60’s more, so my goal was to somehow steer it back to something real. I really just wanted to make a cool psychedelic record and listen to it, and I did.

What do you think about what BDR has become?
The weird thing is how time changes how you view things. In the States we were considered alongside with all of the other Canadian bands that were blowing up at the time so we were playing all of these really over the top shows and getting great reviews, whereas in Canada it was like people just wanted us to go away. Then just 5 years ago I began getting all of this credit for stuff because I was there and I didn’t stop. I think my last couple of records are really cool and fresh sounding. They’re honest and they’re creative and they’re not marketed. There are a lot of peers right now that are going a little too hard. They could be weirder and sound a lot less manufactured. There’s something to be said for the idea that obscure music is better. I believe in what I am doing, and when I pour it on it feels real.

You also produce? I heard you collaborated with Hannah Georgas?
Yeah, we wrote a song together, Bang Bang You’re Dead. It was like song 4 on CBC 3 which is cool. I have a lot of friends who are really good at marketing what they do. I’m not really like that. Out here I’ve worked with the likes of Hey Ocean, and in Toronto I’ve worked with my wife Lily Frost, the Meligrove Band, Bicycles, St. Sebastian etc.

Your ninth album just came out, are you already working on anything else?
Yeah, I’ve got three records that are almost done. One’s a new BDR record which is super off the cuff, but it’s really fun, and also I have an improvisational record in the works. The third project is a secret which nobody knows about. The new BDR record is tracked live. It’s really unexpected. Its super scrappy, super amazing and we’ll probably just release it digitally.

BDR has really paved the way for Alternative and Indie rock, and they will continue to do so with their experimental style and ambient sounds. The current line-up is a formidable trio of honest, outgoing and sincere musicians who have a great passion for their art. Even after two decades Jose is still animated and fun when he gets up on stage, and has a modest outlook on his life and achievements that make him very personable. I look forward to what he has in store for us.

Keloha Music and Arts Festival 2013

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Kealoha is a Hawaiian word which translates to “The Love”. The Keloha Music and Arts Festival is beautiful people coming together and creating magical moments under the hot Okanagan sun. This 3-day, all-ages festival is an all-weekend extravaganza of love, art, and good vibes. Over 30 talented musical acts share two stages in Waterfront Park, serenading and making dreams come true. The grassy knolls of the Island Stage provides a natural amphitheatre complete with shady trees to sit under when the heat starts to take its toll on you and The Sandbar Stage, located on the beach, is perfect for rolling out a towel and digging your feet in the hot sand. Or, you can cool off in the refreshing waters of the Okanagan Lake.

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Yukon Blonde

Between the stages there was plenty else for you to see and do. Lakeside Lounge and Paradise Beach provided a tropical get away for adults wanting to indulge themselves with an intoxicating tonic. VIP pass holders could skip the line-up and enter Paradise, an exclusive area complete with tables and private port-a-potties. Sponsors Big Surf and Palm Bay provided the perfect tropical summer brews for the sun drenched fiesta.

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The Trews

If you were a Hungry Patron you could make a trip to the Food Plaza where an assortment of vendors sold mini-donuts, hamburgers, tacos, pizza-by-the-slice, and more. Everyone’s favorite neighbourhood restaurant Kelly O’Bryan’s was even on hand to sell their famed Pachos. My favorite lunchtime item was the Bronco Burger from the Good Stuff Foods vendor with their reasonable prices.

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MUTEMATH

Those with a creative side could visit Art Avenue, a stretch of space between the Sandbar Stage and Food Plaza, which hosted drop-in yoga, paddle boarding, sandcastle building, gymnastic performances, and interactive art installations. The sidewalk was even transformed into a giant chalk canvas for the public to express themselves on. Installations included pyramids in the sand, and a volcano frothing bubbles.

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Dear Rouge

Sunset Way, the path between the Food Plaza and Island Stage, became home to a small village of vendor tents where small businesses sold clothing, accessories, and more. The tent I spent most of my time at was the Merchandise Tent where you could buy CD’s and T-Shirts from your favorite bands at the festival.

Continue Reading…

The Hot and Dry Canadian Summer: Night 3

Saturday night was the third and final night of the Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Kick-off at Habitat featuring: Wild Son, The Fangles, and Shreddy Krueger. Everyone on behalf of Awesome Okanagan would like to thank you for coming out and supporting local music this weekend. We hope you had a great time and look forward to future events. Coming up next Friday, July 19th is our Summer Fashion Show and Fundraiser, “High Tide“.

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The line-up for the final night of our Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Kick-Off was a heavier mix catering to the rowdier concert goers. Wild Son, who also opened for the Sandbar Stage at Keloha on Sunday morning, kicked off the night and got everybody dancing right away. Wild Son, for those who don’t know, is a groovy folk rock band that has been getting a lot of attention lately.

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The Fangles played second, and were a nice transition between the other two acts. The Fangles are a whisky drinkin’, crowd surfin’ rock band with some punk flair. The capacity throughout the whole weekend seemed to peak during their performance, perhaps a testament to how accessible their music is to those on both sides of the hard rock spectrum.

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Last but not least was Shreddy Krueger, a heavy metal band with caterwauling vocals and a crashing drum kit featuring no less than seven or eight cymbals.  The pure volume of their set-up created a sound barrier between the crowd and the stage that repelled any attempt at getting close; walking within three feet was like running head-on into a brick wall that sent you staggering backwards. The face of the crowd gradually transformed as mosh pits formed, catering to the burlier tattooed types. If this sounds like your idea of a good time you should definitely check out their next show.

Have a great summer everyone, and stay tuned! My coverage from the Keloha Music and Arts Festival this weekend will be coming to you shortly!

Hot and Dry Canadian Summer: Night 2

The Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Kick-Off continues at the Habitat! Last night featured four more great bands that you may or may not be familiar with.

Opening was a solitary member of Manual Scavengers playing electric guitar and singing. You wouldn’t expect the voice that came out of this man. He was a blazing fast talker and story spinner with an outlandish sense of humor and tremendous boldness. He was joined half-way through by their drummer and the show was transformed into an entirely new experience, taking on a pulse that got people dancing.

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After Manual Scavengers one of my favorite new local bands took the stage. Tiger Moon, founded earlier this year by Dan Tait and Kasey Graff, appeared as a complete band with two new members. We shot a live video of them performing their song “North Highway” earlier this summer for one of our Rooftop Sessions. You can check it out here.

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Third on the bill was Windmills. Cory is no stranger to A-OK. Living in Vernon, he makes occasional trips to Kelowna and Vancouver to perform. Windmills brought a mellower mood to the venue that got everyone swaying and hip holding. His interpretation of R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition’at the end of the night got everyone ramped up to party again for the final act, Van Damsel

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Van Damsel is a modern indie rock band from Kamloops. They don’t play Kelowna too often but when they do they’re always a treat to behold. High energy, groovy danceable sounds flowed forth from these four guys as they performed tunes off their EP ‘Say Hello to Your Mother’ and their two newest songs, “The Sunshine, Girl”, and “August”.

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Tonight is the final night of the Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Kick-Off at the Habitat. Wild Son, The Fangles, and Shreddy Krueger will all be playing for your enjoyment. Get there by 9pm to find a table and enjoy some Cariboo beer!

Hot and Dry Canadian Summer: Night 1

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Need to cool off from the hot heat and quench your dry, dry throat? Awesome Okanagan and Cariboo Brewing have your solution. They’ve teamed up to bring you three nights of killer entertainment in a row and provide you with a cold beverage companion. All of your favorites are here, playing the stage at Habitat. The shows are even better than before with knock-out staging. Billows of cotton candy curtains engulf the stage, pillowing the performers as they seduce you with their sweet sounds. Tonight was host to three performances: The Winter Provincial, My Kind of Karma, and JoyfulDoor.

The Winter Provincial lit up the stage as soon as the sun went down and My Kind of Karma followed shortly after. This was my first time experiencing MKOK, and I was pleasantly surprised by their interesting style paying homage to groovy funk rock and reggae. Their performance was a feast of strings consisting of a Ukulele, Guitar, and Banjo. If it sounds like a strange combination they’ll surprise you!

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JoyfulDoor was last, and they were the storm that rocked the venue. The calm clouds took on an ominous presence as the vocals rose and washed over the crowd like a powerful wind. The drums thundered and smashed against your body, sending you reeling into spirals of movement. And the bass guitar trembled throughout your whole being. When the ride was over the audience was clamoring for more.

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This night couldn’t have been a success without the participation of all three of the bands. They opened for all the sweet sounds of summer and set the bar for all live shows to follow. Make sure you catch Van Damsel, Windmills, Manual Scavengers, and Tiger Moon tomorrow night (technically today) at the same place and same time. Doors at 8, show at 9.