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August 15, 2008

CBC's DiscDrive hits the Road

The CBC's DiscDrive website describes the soon-to-be-scrapped radio show of the same name as "music, off-the-cuff commentary and flights of fancy". That's a fairly decent description of what took place last night at the Vancouver Playhouse during the show's farewell concert hosted by the man, Jurgen Gothe, himself. And, his stuffed cat, who hasn't missed a show either.

Gothe has been hosting DiscDrive for 23 years. That's a lot of rubber hittin' the road as commuting time (which refers to the drive part of the show's title since it runs on weekdays between 3 and 6 pm during peak commuting hours).

Even though the show is another CBC casualty, lucky Gothe is taking over as host of a new show called Farrago 5 p.m. on Sundays at CBC Radio2.

Last night's bite-sized showcase of local talent included: the precision of A Touch of Brass, amazing drumming by Sal Ferreras, Jack Duncan and Joseph Pepe Danza, alluring Tango music that I really enjoyed from a group called Tangissimo, some fancy finger work by Mark of the Mark Atkinson Trio. Slowing it down a bit was former Doug and the Slugs band member Simon Kendall on piano. The final set was appropriately reserved for the local iconic bluesman, Jim Byrnes.

The highlight for me, and by the sound of the applause also a favorite of the audience, was the final number of the drumming set. Amazing! I'm a little biased because I've always thought that Joseph Danza is the sexiest musician in Vancouver. Every time I've seen him play anywhere he just seems to exude joy. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone's hands move that fast as he played a conga-type drum although it wasn't a conga (not Congo as I originally stated:-) and unfortunately I don't recall what Sal Ferraras said it was. I think it may have been a drum from Ferraras's homeland, Puerto Rico. It could have been a Batacajon.

Danza, originally from Uruguay, is also fantastic on the Shakuhachi flute and I know from doing an interview with him a long time ago over the phone (not in person-damn!) for an article on Vancouver's then Sacred Music Festival that he was on quite a personal, spiritual journey and that's how he even came to be taught how to play the Shakuhachi while in Japan.

Not being someone who has ever played a drum, what amazed me is the ability of the three to stay in sync even though, from a listener's perspective, it seemed like what I'm going to call fusion drumming (is there such a thing?). I'm not sure how they could ever stop drumming, together, and precisely in time, but they did it.

Sal Ferraras was also playing some instrument that I'm not familiar with that had a real twang, almost digeridoo-type sound quality. (It's actually called a Jaw Harp i think if I look at Pepe Danza's instrument museum.
If you want to hear for yourself what I'm talking about, apparently the concert in its entirety will be broadcast during the last week of DiscDrive in the final week of August.

Unfortunately, they didn't really zero in on the exact day of that week. I guess you'll just have to tune in every day that week, 3-6 p.m. in honour of 23 years of listening pleasure soon to be reincarnated into a new show that Gothe describes as a "mottled mix of everything that has caught my ear" which could translate as when he gets up in the morning, he'll decide then.

Sounds good to me!

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