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Sweatshop and Pocket Dwellers kick it at Garf’s

More live hip-hop shows ahead this summer



Who: Sweatshop Union and The Pocket Dwellers with James Bryan

Where: Garfinkel’s

When: Monday, July 4

Tickets: $15

West Coast conscious hip-hop crew Sweatshop Union returns to Whistler this Monday, teaming up with Toronto urban funk collective the Pocket Dwellers and solo artist James Bryan.

The bands have been touring Canada together since June 9 and will wrap things up with the show at Garfinkel’s, beginning with an opening set by Bryan, who is best known for his former work with Canadian soul band The Philosopher Kings.

Sweatshop and the Pocket Dwellers are regular visitors to Whistler. Both were part of the free concert lineup at the 2004 Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival with Sweatshop’s energetic MC Kyprios snagging the coveted opening slot for the Black Eyed Peas. Sweatshop also came back for the 2005 WSSF and over the years, both bands have made numerous appearances in local live music venues.

As the name implies, Sweatshop Union has built its reputation as a hip-hop band with a conscience, more concerned with the state of the union and the perils of rampant consumerism than the state of the rims on their pimped rides (in one video, band members are depicted cruising urban streets in Volvo sedans).

The seven-member Union is actually comprised of four separate crews hailing from Victoria/Vancouver: Creative Minds, Dirty Circus, Innocent Bystanders, and solo artist Kyprios.

The group’s second album, 2004’s Natural Progression , was honoured with a Juno nomination for Best Rap Recording the day after its official release. A mishmash of booty-grooving beats with catchy choruses, humorous tongue-in-cheek jibes with thoughtful socio-political musings, the album was embraced by those indie hip-hop aficionados who prefer their recordings free of gangsta’ posturing, and the danceable grooves landed several spots on several action video soundtracks.

The group’s natural progression was to keep recording, resulting in a third album United We Fall – still fresh as a daisy since its April 2005 release on Battle Axe Records. A more cohesive album compared to Natural Progression’s mix-tape style mash up, the Union has nevertheless remained faithful to its foundations, continuing to speak out against senseless consumerism and other social ills while coasting on fine-tuned, infectious beats.

Beating the Union by one with a count of eight band members, Toronto’s Pocket Dwellers will bring their own groove to Garfinkel’s on Monday. Together since 1996, the organic urban music collective includes guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, horns, turntables, and a hip-hop MC. The wide range of musicians has inspired a multi-layered sound fusing elements of funk, soul, hip-hop, rock, jazz and drum ’n’ bass, equally welcome in hip-hop nightclubs and on jazz festival stages.

Setting the mood on Monday night is solo artist James Bryan. The artist’s past musical lives include co-founder of Canadian soul band The Philosopher Kings and one-half of the curious cartoon-fronted techno project Prozzak, for which he took on the alter ego of a blond hunk named Milo.

The St. Catherine’s, Ontario-raised singer/songwriter has been reincarnated yet again as a solo artist with debut solo album Beautiful World – an eclectic collage of electronic house music beats, organic instrumental infusions, smooth soul guest vocalists and saucy vocoded choruses.

Monday’s show is being presented by Frontline Entertainment, the promotion company behind the Sunday Night Bounce hip-hop night at Garf’s and the weekly Jump Off Fridays at the Savage Beagle. Frontline’s Craig MacMillan says he is striving to bring more live Canadian hip-hop shows to Whistler over the course of the summer. Upcoming events include Mood Ruff, Checkmate & Concise, DL Incognito and the 6-Pack Canadian tour.

Tickets to Monday’s Sweatshop Union-Pocket Dwellers-James Bryan show are $15, available in advance from the Electric Daisy Internet Café or by calling 604-761-0110.

Large Pro coming to the Bassment

Hip-hop fans definitely won’t want to miss this one…

NYC rapper Large Pro will join DJ Seanski for a special edition of The Bassment on Tuesday, July 12 at Moe Joe’s.

Originally from New York City, Seanski (Sean Harris) migrated west to Vancouver in the late 1990s, and has been spinning hip-hop in Whistler on Tuesday nights for the past eight years.

For more information on the show go to www.skimen.com.