Vancouver's Music West Features 300 Bands

ATN High Tech Guru (and IUMA honcho) Jon Luini reports: Ah, Vancouver

.. beautiful, sunny, warm, Canada. Well, at least

that's what it was like here during the few days of Music West: quite

a contrast to the dreary

rains which were left behind in San Francisco. Music West, the largest

music conference in British Columbia, featured the usual array

of industry panels, exhibit areas, and of course, 300 bands performing

over the course of a few days. Also featured was the Digital Cafe,

whose claim to fame may be hogging all available ISDN circuits

in Vancouver for the duration of the conference. Live

teleconferencing,

connections to the internet, and some cool interactive software

from the Vivid group kept things hopping throughout the day. Thanks to

the miracle of modern technology, attendees

could watch the North American Skateboarding championships, which were

being held at the Slam City Jam portion of Music West ( also

featuring such notable punk bands as D.O.A.). The Slam City Jam is

scheduled

for post-show multicast onto the Internet in conjunction with IUMA,

Music West,

and the Digital Cafe/Vivid Group. Rumor has it that the usual mosh pit

at the D.O.A. show featured Will Hobbs (IUMA) and John Perry Barlow

(EFF).

Reportedly, Barlow didn't even lose his fashionable scarf in the

chaos.

I was lucky enough to catch a few fantastic shows while in Vancouver:

Ani DiFranco: Never before have I seen such power and emotion come

across

from a combination of voice, acoustic guitar and drums. Ani and her

drummer

managed to harness the power of a freight train between the two of

them

and brought the crowd to a punk-folk dance frenzy. They managed to be

sincere and restrained on slower numbers without losing one bit of

intensity. Ani also runs her own indie label and was featured on a

panel

at Music West. She's already on the net, and

IUMA has extended its hand for possible collaborations in the future.

Colin Hay: Here was a surprising treat indeed. The former frontman of

one of the most well-known "bands down under," Men At Work, Colin is

now releasing his 3rd solo album and supporting it with a wonderfully

entertaining and strong solo acoustic live tour. A bit older and

wiser,

Colin seemed to be reaching a bit deeper into his emotions for his

new material. His live performance was a fantastic mix of

Aussie pub humor and sudden seriousness. Those who enjoyed Men At

Work's

material no doubt recall Colin's unique vocal qualities,

and it was a refreshing treat to hear them again, no worse for wear.

He accompanied himself on a single guitar (switching between 12

string

and 6 string acoustic); his voice sounded more powerful than ever.

Like many artists from down under, Colin's recent release is only

available in Australia and Canada, but you can send in your

requests for more information about Colin's latest release,

Topanga,

to mrwalkersco@peg.apc.org.

The Mutton Birds: These New Zealand musicians are an amazing

combination

of wonderful songwriting, beautiful harmonies, and a surprisingly

eclectic

and original use of odd sounds. They knocked the socks off

The Gastown Hall. Comprised of Don McGlashan (guitar, vocals,

euphonium), Al Gregg (bass, vocals), Ross Burge (drums) and Dave

O-Long

(lead guitar, theramin, and assorted wacky shit), they alternate

between

beautifully sculpted folk-rock ("Anchor Me" brings Crowded House and

Michael Penn to mind), blaring all-out rock and roll ("Giant

Friend"),

and warm, ethereal psychedelia, which would fit wonderfully into a Wim

Wenders

soundtrack. As seems to be the trend with Aussie and New Zealand

bands, all

of these blokes have been in other bands before. Don for instance

was

in The Front Lawn who did a beautiful song about a marriage involving

a washing machine (Now is this where Sonic Youth got the idea?). In

this formation, they've been building

momentum to try and break through that invisible barrier which keeps

so many talented bands from their area from breaking into the US

market. The new Mutton Birds album is also not available in the states

yet,

however a combination of their first two albums is going to be

released

in Canada (and I believe Europe) shortly. In the bad news department,

Dave's Korg A-3 effects processor was stolen

the night before I saw them. The poor thief may be in for a surprise

as

the unit runs on the New Zealand voltage of 240V and is thus a bit

easy

to identify. If you can provide any information, please contact EMI

Canada with the good news.