Jamaican reggae artist Turbulence performs at Cloverdale Agriplex in September of 2016 as part of a festival planned by the same people who will stage a One Love Westcoast concert at Newton’s Taj Park Convention Centre on Sept. 9. (file photo)

‘One Love Westcoast’ concert planned for September day in Surrey

Outdoor gathering in Newton aims to ‘keep people moving and dancing’ for an afternoon

Ana David Emery aims to bring a little love to the parking lot of a Newton convention centre for an afternoon next month.

The Fleetwood-area resident is helping to plan another One Love Westcoast concert, this time on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Taj Park Convention Centre.

The event returns to Surrey following a one-year detour to Burnaby.

The first gathering of its kind, billed as Surrey Reggae Festival, was held at Cloverdale Agriplex in September of 2016, when performances by Luciano, Turbulence and other artists drew a few hundred patrons.

Emery, who runs an organization called Latin Summer Fest, is eager to bring Afro, Latino and reggae vibes to this year’s concert.

“We’ve done this for three years now, and it started in Cloverdale and we moved it to Burnaby, but they weren’t on board with the whole thing at Swangard Stadium,” she explained. “We came back to Surrey because everyone we work with is in Surrey, including the crowd. So we thought, why are we killing ourselves trying to drag everybody somewhere else when we’re all already here?”

The concert will feature performances by Vypa, an artist from Jamaica, Ganjo B (Mexico) and others, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 8580 132nd St.

The outdoor site for the concert is the size of “a football field,” Emery said, “maybe a bit larger if you include the front part of the parking lot. We’ve got just one stage at this point with a DJ, so it’s actually two stages with a DJ stage. And that’s really exciting because that will keep people moving and dancing, the DJ music.”

Using the convention centre parking lot, she said, “is a political move, I’m telling you right now, because anytime we deal with anything owned or run by a municipality, the amount of red tape and expenses is so overwhelming, people just say no, we can’t do it, you know. It’s tens of thousands of dollars extra you need to spend, just because it’s a public space. So we asked ourselves why are we doing that when we can go get a private venue that has, you know, enough space for us to run this outdoors anyways.”

Tickets for One Love Westcoast are $20, with free admission for kids 12 and under. More details can be found at latinsummerfest.com, including the “festival hotline” phone number, 604-593-2448. The event is presented by Latinos in Action.

Emery is also among planners of a Latin Summer Market, including a final Aug. 25 date for 2018 at “Bently Road – Grosvenor, ‘The Green Space’ behind Di Reggae Cafe.” The market is billed as “the original Latin Outdoor City Celebration,” yet Emery says it’s all “low-key. It is localized, and it’s a neighbourhood market that we don’t want to be a huge thing,” she said. “So far we’ve had six to eight booths and that’s it. We don’t want it to be huge, we want it to be small.”

The One Love Westcoast concert is a different story, however, and Emery hopes to attract up to 2,000 people to the event, “if we really push it.”

When asked about her motivation to stage the concert, Emery went into great detail.

”Events like this, people like me and others do it out of our own pockets because we need to do it,” she started. “If we don’t dance or drum or have our music and food and our people around, we literally perish. You know, we can’t survive without the music and the food and the people, we just can’t.

“So whatever it takes to keep that going, living in a place like Canada, which is cold, not only physically, we have different climates here, it’s cold socially,” she continued. “People don’t hug, don’t touch. I have a good word for that — it’s calin, which means caress or touch in French, and in Spanish it’s carino, a similar word, and neither of those words is translated to English because we don’t touch in English, caress, we don’t kiss on the cheek — we don’t touch, let alone dance in the park or anything like that. So we want to sing and dance and hug and do whatever we did before we got here.

“It’s outrageous that we might become like the Canadians — no, we don’t hug anymore, or we don’t touch and kiss anymore because ‘that’s just not done here,’” she added. “I came from Montreal and I had a blast — up from nine to nine every single day, going to every event, every festival, every street thing, it is amazing — like being in a different world. I didn’t even think I was in Canada, because it’s a totally different atmosphere and attitude. Everybody is so friendly and open-hearted, and want to talk to you and figure out where you’re from, all that, to connect. We don’t have that here, and we’re trying to bring that back with events like this.”

As for the performers at One Love Westcoast, Emery detailed the headliners and some of the other featured artists.

“Vypa has actually played in every reggae event this year — Montreal, Toronto, Dubai, Nigeria, and he’s gone all over the world this year alone, trying to get the reggae thing out. He’s known in the reggae community,” she said.

“Ganjo B, he plays reggae in Spanish, from Mexico, and he was featured at the ska festival in Victoria as well.

“And some of the new ones we have, Songpati, which is Venezuelan, and we’re really excited with Kin Balam, which is an amazing youth who plays flamenco guitar. He, like, channels spirits through all kinds of — he’s self-taught, and he’s amazing, you have to watch him play.… He’s 23 or something like that.”

The concert poster lists Rhumba Machines, Rumba 7 and Alpha Yaya Diallo among other performers.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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