Ready to kick off summer with a ton of free, live music?
On June 21, the first day of summer, Make Music Vancouver will transform Gastown’s Water Street into one, huge outdoor concert with dozens of different sidewalk stages (Editor’s Note: This event has also been expanded into Yaletown this year). The event, which runs from 5 p.m.-10 p.m., was inaugurated in Vancouver last year and attracted 20,000 people and 150 bands. This year, organizers are expecting 200 bands.
200 bands in one evening? That’s right. And the reason it’s possible is because Make Music is unlike any festival you’ve ever been to.
The idea started in France in 1982, when the culture ministry urged amateur and professional musicians to flood the streets in celebration of the summer solstice. Since then, Make Music has expanded to 450 cities around the world.
What makes the festival unique is that it’s entirely grassroots and entirely volunteer – neither musicians nor organizers are paid and there are no tickets to buy. Basically, if you have a band and want to play, you’re welcome to sign up in advance, then hit the streets and rock out.
Don’t expect any internationally known, big-name acts down in Gastown or Yaletown this year. The real charm of Make Music is that it consists of local people – some super-talented; some just hobbyists – jamming for the fun of it in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Genres range from jazz, funk and world music to styles that simply defy definition.
Musicians bring their own equipment and set up at an assigned spot to play for a period of one hour. Lots of acts are acoustic; others run extension cords into nearby bars and restaurants. It’s all very improvised and informal.
Meanwhile, crowds meander up and down Water Street, gathering around bands for a song or two, then moseying on to the next act. After 10 p.m., the party continues inside the pubs and restaurants of Gastown and Yaletown.
Make Music Vancouver is Thursday, June 21, from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. on Gastown’s Water Street, which will be closed to car traffic, and in Yaletown. For more information, check out the website.
Anyone go to Make Music last year? How was it?