No point in asking what will be in Canadian piano virtuoso/vocalist Michael Kaeshammer’s set-list for his show this Thursday (April 19) at 7 and 9:15 p.m. at White Rock’s popular intimate 100-seat concert venue, Blue Frog Studios (1328 Johnston Rd.).
“I never have a set-list for my concerts,” the Offenburg, Germany-born musician said, on the line from his home-base in Victoria.
“We have a repertoire that we play and I choose from that,” he said.
“It all depends on my mood, and who is in the audience, and the energy in the room,” the multiple Juno nominee and winner, and four-time Western Canadian Music Award-winner added.
“I’ve reached a point in my career where I can do what pleases me and what I feel like doing.
“It’s like this conversation – if I had everything written down that I was going to say ahead of time, then it wouldn’t be very interesting.”
The spontaneity of the moment aside, it’s a good bet that his Blue Frog set will include his roots in jazz, blues and boogie – and also the heartfelt original songs, bearing the influence of all three idioms, that first came to the fore in his 2000 album No Strings Attached, and continue in his latest, Something New.
That marks a return to the love of New Orleans music that first flowered as a teenager in Germany – a time when, in addition to discovering the boogie and stride piano styles of such greats as Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis and Pete Johnson, he started to be aware of Professor Longhair and the playing of his drummer Johnny Vidacovich.
“That’s when I started to hear the New Orleans ‘second line’ drum style,” Kaeshammer said, noting that Vidacovich is among the musicians on his new album, along with such Big Easy legends as Cyril Neville, George Porter Jr., Mike Dillon and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers Brass Band.
“I could have done the album with the band I play with in Toronto,” Kaeshammer – who also enjoys the creative control of functioning as his own producer – said. “But, since I was going to record it in New Orleans anyway, it made sense to do it with all those guys down there and get the real thing.”
For the concert at Blue Frog, Kaeshammer will be working with a close-knit back-up group of B.C. players – “in fact, several of them are among the first guys I worked with when I came to Canada and settled in Victoria,” he said.
For tickets and more information, visit bluefrogstudios.ca
Surrey Little Theatre’s latest production, Slow Dancing, written by Abbotsford playwright Shelley Picard and directed by White Rock’s Margaret Shearman, opens April 19 and runs to May 12 at the theatre, 7027 184 St.
Inspired by a Garth Brooks hit, The Dance, it’s the story of Ann (Maegen Eastwood), a young pregnant woman, who must make some hard life choices. She receives help from a homeless woman, Mary (Shearman), who is in turn guided by her own ‘guardian angel’, George (Ken Fynn) – even though the relationship between the two women is protested by Ann’s husband Charlie (Aaron Elliott). Rounding out the cast is Tanya Rogers in the role of a nurse.
First-time director Shearman (who has years of theatre experience both on-stage and backstage) says she chose to helm the play “because it is a hard story told in a gentle manner – the situation is impossible and the characters are human and fallible, and how they handle things is very real.”
Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursady to Saturday, with 2 p.m. Sunday matinées on April 29 and May 6. Gala night (April 21) will include a special ‘talk back’ session with the playwright.
Tickets ($17, $15 for seniors 65 or over) are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com, by reserving at firstname.lastname@example.org or, by phone, at 604-576-8451.
Berlin to Hollywood
The razzle-dazzle, eclectic Bergmann Piano Duo (husband-wife team Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann) will be back at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre (13750 88 Ave.) with guest vocalist Onalea Gilbertson on Thursday, April 19, 11 a.m., in a cabaret-style coffee concert, From Berlin to Hollywood.
The concert highlights the 1920s and early 1930s collaborations of revolutionary German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht and such composers as Paul Dessau, Hanns Eisler and Kurt Weill (including The Threepenny Opera), plus later work done by the composers (subsequent refugees from the Nazi regime) in Hollywood in the 1940s.
The event begins with a social hour at 10 a.m. For tickets, call 604-501-5566 or visit tickets.surrey.ca
The Semiahmoo Music Consortium’s series of Friday night dances continue to rock Crescent Legion’s Club 240.
Favourite tunes from the past five decades are the musical territory of the popular South Surrey-based Ocean Park Wailers this Friday (April 20).
What started as a labour of love for three experienced but retired musicians coming back to their craft has evolved organically into a sizzling seven-piece band that has become a favourite with dancers at the venue – most recently in a highly successful New Year’s Eve event.
The extraordinarily versatile all-star group – rocking everything from deep blues to R & B, roots and originals – includes Mike Sheeshka (lead vocals and guitar), Kevin Irwin (lead guitar and vocals), Russ Froese (bass and vocals), Elliott Clarkson (saxophone and vocals), the dynamic keyboard duo of Jim Widdifield and Bill Brooks, and drummer Paul Sorbara.
Coming up, The Retrogrades are all ready to fire up their tribute to the high-energy rock ’n’ roll hits of everyone from the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Duran Duran and Queen, to recent performers like Pharrell and Weeknd.
The venue is located at 2643 128 St.
Tickets to all Friday night Club 240 events are $20 and are available online at brownpapertickets.com, at the legion box office or at the door.
Doors open at 7 p.m. with shows at 8 p.m. Tickets are available directly from the legion, from 4-9 p.m. daily at 604-535-1043.
White Rock Traditional Jazz Society’s regular Sunday 2-5 p.m. drop-in sessions of live Dixieland, hot jazz and swing music for dancing at the Crescent Legion Branch’s Club 240 continue this weekend (April 22) with reedman Gerry Green’s Crescent City Jazzers.
Coming up is the return of trumpeter/vocalist Bonnie Northgraves and her band (April 29) and the Big Bang Band Birthday Bash (May 6).
The venue is at 2643 128 St. Admission is $10 at the door (WRTJS members); $12 (non members) and $6 (students with ID).
There’ll be plenty of variety on view for lovers of the visual arts this weekend (April 21-22) as the South Surrey and White Rock Art Society presents its annual Art Show and Sale.
The venue is the South Surrey Recreation and Arts Centre (14601 20 Ave.) and the show – including oils, acrylics, watercolours and mixed-media pieces – is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Admission and parking is free, and browsers (and buyers) will also be able to enjoy live music as they wander through the exhibit.
The Crescent Beach Photography Club presents its annual Black and White Print Challenge, Saturday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Church Hall, 12953 20 Ave.
A total of 13 photographic clubs from throughout the Lower Mainland will be participating in this prestigious event, for which judging will start at 7 p.m.
Judges will choose the best three prints from some 78 submissions. Awards include the CAPA gold, silver, and bronze medals, and three honourable mentions will also be handed out.
The club obtaining the highest number of points will claim the Crescent Beach Photography Club Trophy for a year until the next challenge.
In addition to the main event, the public will be requested to choose a single best print from a display submitted by Crescent Beach Photography Club members. There will also be a selection of door prizes to be won. Admission is $10.
Earl Marriott Theatre Company presents the musical hit Little Shop of Horrors April 25-28 and May 2-5 at the school’s Wheelhouse Theatre, 15751 16 Ave.
With a great score by Alan Menken, and a script based on the Roger Corman-Charles Griffith cult B-movie of the early 1960s, it’s the twisted, but fun, tale of Seymour (Gareth Owen), awkward young assistant at the run-down florists shop of Mr. Mushnik (Will Heine), whose desire to be worthy of his beautiful co-worker, Audrey (Emily McTavish), results in him raising a strange and rapidly-growing alien plant – he calls it Audrey II (Justin Kung) – that thrives on human blood.
The show is presented with a warning of ‘mature language and subject matter’.
Tickets ($17, $15 students and seniors) are available at email@example.com or at 604-542-2181.
August: Osage County
White Rock Players Club’s latest production – August: Osage County, runs until April 28 at Coast Capital Playhouse
Tracy Letts’ ultra-black comedy reveals the flaws and foibles of the Weston clan –an upper middle-class Oklahoma family whose closets are fairly teeming with skeletons.
When the patriarch, alcoholic poet Beverley Weston (Fred Partridge) goes missing, it’s the cue for a family reunion in which no-one goes unscathed, largely due to the vitriolic tirades and unmitigated meanness of matriarch Violet (Cindy Peterson).
It’s not all laughs – among serious themes in the production explored by director Ryan Mooney are racism, parental abuse, infidelity, incest and the molestation of a teenage girl.
Also featured are Alaina Holland, Andrew Wood, Alina Quarin, Pat McDermott, Katherine Morris, Heather Jane Robertson, Cale Walde, Samantha Silver, Cassidy Hryckiw, Chris Connor and Paul Cowhig.
The show runs Wednesdays to Saturdays with a 2:30 p.m. matinée on Sunday, and is presented with a warning of adult themes and language.
Tickets ($22, $19 students and seniors, $10 Wednesdays) are available at the Coast Capital Playhouse box office (Wednesday to Saturday, 1-5 p.m.) at 1532 Johnston Rd. or through www.whiterockplayers.ca
GS & Co at Semiahmoo Centre will host noted artists Chris MacClure and Marilyn Hurst in two painting-on-location events at the gallery later this month.
Hurst will be painting at the gallery April 20-22 from noon to 5 p.m, while Maclure will be at the gallery April 27-29 from noon to 5 p.m.
Both artists will be available to meet with the public and will have a few pieces on hand for collectors. For more, call 604-531-8203.