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Great music, eh?

Canada's Wassabi Collective, Jimmy Towers, Ingrid Hakanson and Kori K celebrate Canuck day with Beaver Fever 2006



What: Beaver Fever 2006

When: Friday, June 30

Where: Garbaldi Lift Company (GLC)

Tickets: $20/$22

Listening to Nelson, B.C.’s Wassabi Collective at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival epitomizes what the band is all about. Some audience members are sitting back on blankets, listening to the electro grooves while basking in the sun. Others, in all their colourful hippie glory, are on their feet swaying to the beats, hands above their heads, eyes closed and smiling.

There is something special about Wassabi Collective. Like the funny tingly rush the green Japanese garnish gives, Wassabi Collective sends out a special vibe that leaves you smiling. It’s uplifting. It’s body moving. And most importantly, it’s returning to Whistler for another show Friday, June 30 at the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC).

JnB Productions hosts its fifth installment of Beaver Fever: A Canada D’eh Celebration with funk, reggae, world beat, breaks and house from a multi-member concert line up.

Wassabi Collective headlines the show, unearthing old favourites along with soon to be new ones from their upcoming not-yet-titled album set for release at the end of the summer.

The road dogs who have played every nook and cranny of Canada, especially the summer festival circuit, are spending more time at home these days. A new home studio at Wassabi frontman Brent "Gisto" Hongisto’s home has kept the touring van parked with only major festivals booked for the summer to ensure plenty of recording time.

The new set up has not only led to concepts becoming realities in a tighter time frame, but also the style of music is evolving into more of an organic sound.

"Having a home studio has made things more casual and more in the moment," Hongisto says in between recording sets at the studio. "In the past we’d have to go down for studio sessions in the city; now we can do it at our own pace. We come up with stuff that is more real, more straight from the source rather than conceptualizing the source."

The Nelson group — made up of Hongisto, bassist Scott Milne, percussionist and vocalist Melissa Meretsky, drummer Jimmy Lewis and DJ Rahj "Mahal" Levinson — is feeling more like a cohesive band, logging in so much time in the studio and focusing on the business end of the music industry.

The high-intensity jam band covers the gamut of everything from reggae, Latin and African beats to techno, house, break beats and rock and roll. The barrage of musical styles are united under rhythms placed in a danceable context with the jam format moving towards more lyrically based music.

"I think that is the coolest thing about music is that you never know what to expect," Hongisto says. "Elements of who we are are going to always be with us, but our sound is evolving. It’s going to be a lot more lyrically based in the future. We are sending out our message."

A message of collective effort, inspiration, positivity and good intensions is at the heart of their easy-listening music, which is also illustrated in the multiple-talent show often boasting the play of Hula Girl or fire spinners.

"Everyone wants to take part and feel the vibe," Hongisto says. "Everyone wants to support that and create that energy around that. We are putting things together on the fly. It makes the show seem fresh, but well thought out too."

Wassabi Collective will hand off to Vancouver’s Jimmy Towers, otherwise known as DJ Andy Clockwork. Prepare to be funked, bumped and mesmerized by his break beat madness. Ingrid Hakanson will join Clockwork, bringing live electronic vocals to the show. The Vancouver songstress is in the midst of recording a new album after the successful release of Out of Touch and has collaborated with the likes of Swirl People and Lawn Chair Generals. Whistler favourite Kori K closes out with house classics.

Tickets are $20 for the first 100 and $22 thereafter. Advance tickets are available at the GLC and Electric Daisy. Doors open at 9 p.m.

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