Ice Bear’s exciting work, ‘The Calling’, will soon be on public show. (Submitted)

LEXI COLUMN; NOLA NightHawks, Brishen, 39 Days of July, and Icebear: the Valley has it all

As summer warms up, entertainment does, too

June 16 sees the welcome return of the NOLA NightHawks to the Osborne Bay Pub.

Directed and arranged by pianist Andrew Homzy, this talented aggregation celebrates the ‘Music of Old and New Orleans’ — from Jelly Roll Morton to Wynton Marsalis.

Homzy’s shows are always popular and always different. Once again, he has arranged and prepared an entirely new program — drawing from a melting pot of song, improvisation and dance that forms the basis for a large part of the history of 20th century popular American music.

“The show highlights traditional and contemporary music from the city that gave birth to jazz,” he said.

“This concert will include classic compositions associated with Louis Armstrong and his wife, Lillian Hardin, Jelly Roll Morton and Bix Beiderbecke as well as some from a new generation of New Orleans based composers such as John Ellis, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and trombonist Wycliffe Gordon,” he said.

Homzy, who moved to Nanaimo in 2009, was a key figure on the Montreal jazz scene for more than 40 years, where his Jazz Orchestra played regularly at the Montreal Jazz Festival and whose performances were broadcast many times on Radio-Canada.

In 1998, he was nominated for a Grammy for his research into the music of legendary jazz bass pioneer Charles Mingus, writing a comprehensive booklet on his work and co-producing Mingus’s six-CD set, Passions of a Man: The Complete Atlantic Recordings 1956-1961.

He formed the NOLA NightHawks by selecting some of the best professional musicians in the Nanaimo area: Derrick Milton and Greg Bush on trumpet, Darren Nilsson and Paul Nuez on trombone, Claudio Fantinato on clarinet, Rod Alsop on baritone sax, Adam Robertson on drums, Rob Uffen on bass and Keanu Barned on guitar.

If you love New Orleans jazz, don’t miss this great concert.

Showtime is 2-4 p.m. and there’s a $20 cover charge at the door.

***

The Valley’s own Quin Bachand, who has become a renowned musical innovator and multi-instrumentalist, is back in Cowichan June 22 with his band, Brishen, for a special performance at the Providence Farm Chapel, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Bachand himself is an in-demand guitarist, but he spends a lot of his time leading his ensemble, most lately in the album Tunes in a Hotel.

With a tight grasp on gypsy jazz and the swing tradition, Brishen opens musical doors and letting the audience follow as they will.

Tickets are $20 in advance from Duncan Music, and barelynorth.com or $25 at the door.

The Chapel is located at 1843 Tzouhalem Rd. in Duncan. Doors open at 7 p.m.

***

It’s halfway through June and that means July is on the way. Actually, it’s closer than you think: it starts June 28.

Of course, you all know what I’m on about.

The 39 Days of July downtown entertainment extravaganza starts that Friday and goes on (and on) right into August.

All your favourite events will be back, and as always there will be a few surprises. Watch this space for more in the coming weeks.

***

Crofton-based international artist Ice Bear is giving Valley friends and supporters a chance to see its latest work before it goes to Vancouver.

Entitled ‘The Calling’, it has been more than six months in the making, is nearly six feet across at its widest point, and is finished with bronze-filled liquid acrylic.

When completed, it will be an impressive artwork, even for Ice Bear! The photo was taken last week, with still lots of work to be done.

Publicist Charrone Johnston says, “We hope you can join us to see it finally completed, and wish it well as it makes its first venture into the wide world beyond our valley. Wear comfy shoes!”

The event is scheduled for June 26, from 4 to 6 p.m. at 1565 Joan Ave. in Crofton. Call 250-324.3667 for more information.

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