By Mathieu Pierre Youdan
VANCOUVER — “I’ve been working on West Fourth for 33 years,” Grant McDonagh is keen to declare. “Where people know [Zulu Records] now, we moved here in 1991. Quintessence’s (c. 1981) was a folk, prog rock, store…” Comparing with Zulu’s current offerings, their adoption of new styles parallels the creation of the Khatsahlano Festival itself. From the small beginnings of a stage in front of Zulu during the ill-fated Hippy Daze festival, which hearkened to the flower-power history of Kits, came a massive 10-block festival. “Hippy Daze and Khatsahlano,” McDonagh clarifies, “the only thing they have in common is that they are a street festival, but the outlook is very different.
“[Khatsahlano] really caught steam,” McDonagh boasts. “Our first year was excellent, and by last year… man, it really is mindblowing how many people are here.” The fourth year of the Khatsahlano Festival promises to also be their largest event yet. Through working with Arrival and the West 4th BIA, they’ve encompassed ten blocks, with nearly as many stages, from Burrard Street to Macdonald Street along West Fourth Avenue.
“We put out a lot of great records, like the Enigmas, Slow… Lung, Pointed Sticks, Modernettes, and a big one we did was called Last Call with 40 independent Vancouver bands,” McDonagh recalls, casually listing some of the most sought-after Vancouver releases of the past three decades. This consistently progressive choice in music vets Zulu’s skill in picking great music, with consistently new sounds.
“If a person doesn’t know anything about Vancouver bands, or any of these local bands playing, they should be able to land somewhere on the street and hopefully like them,” McDonagh assures. “If not, they can go one block further and see another band. There’s different genres of music.”
“We were the strange little record store in the ‘80s, and we’re still here,” McDonagh says of the store, and by proxy the festival’s, future. And though the Kitsilano neighbourhood may only be as odd as seeing yoga pants in a Starbucks, the Khatsahlano Festival is truly unique in Vancouver. “It’s a bit of an experience, but it’s also an education on the talent,” McDonagh summarizes, “And all you have to do is walk up the street.”
BeatRoute presents Nu Sensae, Jay Arner and Tough Age at the Maple St. Stage at Khatsahlano on July 12th.
Grant McDonagh’s Festival Favourites:
The Graham Brown Band – TD Stage: 1:30 p.m.
Sunday Morning – Zulu Stage: 2 p.m.
The Furies – cityTV stage: 4 p.m.
The Evaporators – TD stage: 5:30 p.m.
Bend Sinister – cityTV stage: 6 p.m.
The Poppy Family Experience – TD stage: 8 p.m.
BC, British Columbia, festival season, Khatsahlano Festival, Vancouver festivals