A&E » Arts

Freeflow down with the West Coast sound



Who: Freeflow

Where: The Boot Pub

When: Monday, Oct. 13.

Tickets : $5

It’s dangerous to try to define a place with a sound. After all, Vancouver and the West Coast in general have given us everything from Brian Adams to Swollen Members to 3 Inches of Blood.

But even so, there seems to be a definitive West Coast sound – a funky, jazzy, reggae-laced groove that scores the heart of Vancouver’s Commercial Drive. It’s a sound that makes people want to either dance or grab a drum and play along. It sounds like Freeflow.

Lead singer Jason Evans has to agree. Born on Commercial Drive, Freeflow continues to play its clubs four years later.

"Our music is urban in some ways but it’s taking all sorts of influences from the laid-back vibe of the West Coast," says Evans. "We take our music seriously but our music when we play live is just for people to have a good time, to party and to get down. That, I would think, definitely expresses our ‘West Coast-ness,’ that we’re there to rock the house."

"Whereas playing out east," Evans continues, "people have a much harder time letting go, getting on the dance floor and moving. They might be enjoying themselves, but it’s like they’re too serious, or too cool for school.

"I should say central Canada," he pauses, "the East Coast of Canada, they know how to rock as well."

While the group toured across Canada in the summer of 2002, Evans said this past summer they stayed close to home.

"We hit a couple of festivals and just played around town," says Evans, whose ‘ESL teacher by day, rocker by night’ life could be the subject of a movie of the week.

A highlight, he notes was the Sweet Basil Jazz Festival.

"We’re not really jazz, but all the players in the band are jazz-trained so the improvisational element does factor in," he muses. "I wouldn’t say we’re a jam band but we do quite a bit of improv as far as the way that our songs are structured. We move it around a little bit so you don’t hear the same thing twice."

The band’s specific influences, he says, vary with each member.

"We definitely are from different backgrounds, so it’s interesting," says Evans.

"Myself, being the singer of the band, I’d have to say soul and hip-hop, a mixture of the two. Our bass player is the funk guy. The guitar player is coming from rock ’n’ roll roots, the keyboardist is very jazzy in the way he phrases things and then our drummer is a groove jazz player as well."He pauses.

"Myself, I’m all over the place. My first love was reggae, believe it or not. I think you hear that in the music."

But the mishmash of backgrounds and playing styles has worked for Freeflow. The band has stayed together through marathon tours across Canada and back, and are currently recording their second album, a follow up to 2002’s Barfly Sessions .

"I think it’s a lot of subtle chemistry, the non-verbal communication stuff that goes on in a band that takes a long time to germinate," says Evans.

The new album is turning into a slicker production and the band is hoping their patience with it will result in some mainstream attention.

"This one we’re taking our time with," says Evans. "We’re getting something that’s geared up for the masses."

But even if the album launches the band into the celebrity stratosphere, it’s unlikely they will ever forget their Commercial roots.

"I think with Commercial Drive it’s sort of ‘anything goes,’ very accepting. A lot of musicians live in that area, and it’s that vibe of openness and freedom. It’ s a good breeding ground for anything creative as far as I’m concerned."

Freeflow brings Commercial Drive to Nancy Greene Drive with a show at the Boot Pub this Monday. Tickets $5 at the door.

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