Taking a vacation in a city like Vancouver, with so many things to see or do, can get a little on the expensive side if you’re not careful. Of course if money is no object then spend away, but for those of us who sometimes like to hold back a little it’s great to find something free that’s also of really high quality.
Just such an event is a month or so of music called The Toque Sessions, CBC’s annual showcase for some of the finest locally based musicians and bands. It’s been running for five years now and sessions are usually from the back end of January to the end of February. CBC has an eclectic line-up for the sessions, a diverse range of styles that this year included blues, jazz, indie, pop, folk and metal at CBC Studio 1 on Hamilton Street.
Studio 1 used to be home to the CBC Radio Orchestra for dozens of years and is now a top location for concerts and broadcasts for CBC Vancouver. It’s reckoned to be one of the best studio sound stages that isn’t in Toronto or way down in Hollywood, California.
What I like about gigs there is that it’s really intimate – you’re right up close to the performers because the studio only has a capacity of around 120-130. Now, I don’t mind big stadium gigs but you can feel a little isolated if you’re way back from the stage. In Studio 1 you can feel the music almost as if you’re at home with a state-of-the-art sound system – except you’ve got the musicians in the room!
Explaining the wide range of musical styles at the sessions, one of the producers responsible for setting up the 5th series, Jon Siddall, said: “We have a really broad taste in music so there’s a little bit of every flavor. If you come to every session, you can experience them all.”
Just remember that if you want to go the sessions are every Thursday and Friday evening, but get there early because space is limited and, after all, everyone likes a free concert!