Close to 200 people took in the first of the Cloverdale Concerts on Saturday (June 1), and few were more enthused about the night of music than Steve Kozak.
With his band at Shannon Hall, the guitar-playing blues musician headlined a “Blues & Roots BBQ” event that kicked off the new concert series at the fairgrounds.
While “cowboy surf” group The Modelos opened the nearly three-hour show, Kozak stood outside the hall – near a large barbecue used to cook hamburgers for ticket-holders – and talked about the need for more concert venues located south of the Fraser River.
“This is the first time I’ve played in Cloverdale, but I’ve played all over – in Maple Ridge and Langley and places like this, but it’s my first time here,” Kozak said.
— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) June 2, 2019
— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) June 2, 2019
“This hall is a great venue for a concert like this, and it’s got tons of potential,” Kozak added. “It sounds good so far in there, and they’ve got the Stetson Bowl they could utilize and also the bigger arena (Agriplex) if they need, for bands that can fit into there, and it’s great because not a lot goes on here other than the horse races and the casino and the rodeo and stuff. It’s a great opportunity for bands and also people who want to enjoy music.”
David Geertz, who booked bands into The Flamingo’s three showrooms for a year, before the Whalley-area building was closed for good in February, is a principal of Cloverdale Concerts. The live-music agency aims to book “small and mid-size shows” at Cloverdale Fairgrounds, starting at Shannon Hall, with a focus on rock, metal, blues and country bands.
Based in Burnaby, Kozak said he and his band play a lot in Vancouver-area venues.
“We’re finding that it’s more and more of a struggle because the demographic of our music, particularly, a lot of the people have moved out this way, to the suburbs and stuff, and people don’t want to drive into town and fight the traffic and pay for parking, all that,” he explained. “And it’s too long of a cab ride if they want to do that, have a drink or two, and all that has changed the whole thing of live music in Vancouver, so I think David’s idea of bringing music out to the people and having a Commodore-size venue out this way, I think the potential is unlimited.”
On Tuesday (June 4), Geertz said he and the Cloverdale Concerts team were “happy with the turnout and happy with the production” last Saturday night.
“I think where we’ll make improvements on is anything to do with food service and providing a few additional options for beverages,” Geertz said. “We’re taking feedback from people and looking to potentially work with food partners to handle that end of things. And we’re looking to grow our volunteer base to help with things like the door, ticketing and feeding people.”
Next up is a concert at Shannon Hall featuring The Hip Show (the note-for-note Tragically Hip tribute band, based in Surrey) and Fo Fighters (Foo Fighters songs) on Saturday, June 15. Tickets are $20 each at showpass.com., with doors open at 7:30 p.m. and show starting at 9.
Beyond that date, the Cloverdale Concerts calendar includes an off-site event called The Stevedore Stomp, billed as “a five-acre shaker” at a property on Surrey’s Colebrook Road on Saturday, July 27. The day-long event will feature camping, food and performances by tribute bands The Longriders, Priest the Tribute, OC/DC, League of Corruption, Sister Sabbath and The Other Guys. Tickets are $40 at showpass.com.
Back at Shannon Hall this summer, other concerts in the series will include Brickhouse (Aug. 10), a hip-hop show (Aug. 17), and, on Aug. 30, Lindsay Beaver (a Texas-based, blues-rock drummer and singer) with Steve Kozak opening. Ticket details for these shows will be announced soon.
Last Saturday night, Kozak spoke about his musical roots in both Vancouver and Edmonton, and how one particular concert set him on the path of playing the blues.
“I loved music since seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan – I got to see them on there, and my parents had a good record collection too, so that helped,” Kozak started. “And there were great bands that played around Edmonton when I was a kid, ones that played on gas station rooftops and high schools in the ’60s, and I always wanted to play guitar, and I got into that.
“I got into blues and listened to more of that,” he continued, “and I actually got to see the great Muddy Waters when he played the roller rink in North Van, and that really put me on the path of sticking with the blues. I got to meet him and hang out with him, and he invited my wife and I – they were there for five nights, in the early ’70s, and it was amazing. Jim Byrnes was a solo artist opening for him, and I remember Muddy preaching for me to stick with the blues, and it kind of put me on the mission. I promised him I’d stick with it, and I did. I’ve never really played other kinds of music – I like other kind of music but I’ve just stuck with playing the blues.”