Brew Bus Lounge Sessions #1

October 13th, 2014 by  |  Published in Concerts

Brew Bus Lounge Sessions

View of the Brew Bus Lounge area.

Photos: Terry Steeves

Dan Hopkins and Dan Beardsley, creators of the Brew Bus Lounge and this year’s aVibe Music and Arts Festival, held at Vincent Massey Park earlier this year, put on the first of their events they call their Brew Bus Lounge Sessions. Virtually a scaled down version of their festival, which incorporated a variety of artisans and healthier-choice food concessions, these sessions concentrate on offering a live music scene in a more intimate setting, and a chance to sample some of our local, craft brewery. Beardsley’s years of music festival touring as an artisan, led to a wealth of connections in the industry, with particular focus on bands that displayed a common reggae-infused, upbeat, and positively charged vibe. Hopkins years of experience in the bar/restaurant industry gained him a plethora of contacts with local wine and brewery companies. His skills as a builder came in handy for the design and construction of the Brew Bus Lounge. They began with two discarded, vintage VW vans, converting their front ends into very artistically designed bar facades, complete with draught taps built into the dashboards. The two enjoyed their first successful launch of the aVibe Music & Arts Festival in June of this year, and have now spun off into the first of their Brew Bus Lounge Sessions.

Brew Bus Lounge Sessions

Creators of the aVibe Fest and the Brew Bus Lounge Sessions, Dan Beardsley and Dan Hopkins.

I arrived at the scene of a quaint home, with a path that led directly to an enticing, curtained off entrance into the backyard area. The BB Lounge was set up with one bus offering a delicious choice of Broadhead craft brews, and the other was adorned with BBL and band swag, CD’s, etc., available for purchase. At the opposite end of the ample sized yard, was a covered wooden stage, complete with a full, very impressive sounding PA, and decorated with an artistic display of lights. Already, this was a treat to the eyes. Around the perimeter, was a smattering of Adirondack and deck chairs, glow-in-the-dark, colour-changing bits of furniture, and a lovely covered seated area which was equipped with a propane-fuelled firepit. In the middle of it all was a beautiful, majestic Maple tree, embellished with a gorgeous display of lit birdhouses. Anyone (like myself) who arrived on their own would have felt immediately at home on such a warm and welcome setting as this. Two Canadian bands would play tonight…one from the east, and one from the west.

Brew Bus Lounge Sessions

View of the stage and grounds…Tasman Jude performing.

The first band to play was Tasman Jude, 4 musicians who hail from Grand Prairie, Alberta. They are currently on a massive Canadian tour, having since travelled 5,700 km, with more stops to go before this leg of their journey ends on Nov. 16th. At that point, they will travel for their second time to Australia before heading to the Caribbean for a series of shows there. They have just released their second, full length CD, “Green”, which features 9 full-sounding, uplifting, solid reggae tunes, with any one of these tracks oozing hit potential. The songs are filled with messages of hope, freedom, equality, unity, and love. They opened with a wonderfully organic display of various man-made bird calls and sounds of nature before diving into their first song, “Green (Zion)”, which I took an immediate liking to and brought on an early start to the dancing that ensued. I especially loved their fast-paced, “Tasman Jude”, which soared with energy, and completely showcased the amazing and versatile vocals of Caleb “Bravehart” Hart. He is a natural-born performer, who also enjoyed leading the audience many times to lending their voices in a variety of chants and call-and-answer banter. I also loved the wonderful rhythm and tones of Al Peterson’s (aka, The Al) guitar, and his use of various effects that added a cool uniqueness. Excellent rhythm skills by Adam Paananen on the Djembe drums, combined with those of Derek Wilder who held down the bass, provided the powerful pulse of this band. All displayed a passionate enthusiasm in their music, which sent out a dynamic vibe. By the end of the set, Tasman Jude revived my love of reggae music, which I realized, had been absent from my life far too long.

Brew Bus Lounge Sessions

New Brunswick’s Earthbound Trio perform at the Brew Bus Lounge Sessions.

Next up, was St. John, New Brunswick’s, Earthbound Trio, currently travelling throughout Ontario on their “Such Nice Boys” October 2014 Tour. Formed in 2010, members Dwayne Doucette (guitar/harmonica/lead vocals), Bob Fitzgerald (upright bass), and Mike Humble (drums/percussion) offered up genre-hopping, intensely rhythmic servings that encompassed flavours of reggae, folk, funk, and rock. They played material from their debut 6-track EP, entitled, “Lettuce Turnip The Beet” (2013), with one I especially liked called, “Mother”, which had a gently rocking and infectious reggae groove, interjected with some flowing twists and turns that left me unable to stand still. I also enjoyed the heavier blues/rock tone of “Georgia Watson”, also off their current EP. Throughout their set, I detected the use of some cool effect loops and pedal work which added a unique flavour to their music. This was especially highlighted in an impressive instrumental piece they played called “Earth Stomp“, which was a relentless, train-chugging, latin rock driven number, that gained momentum into a powerful crescendo…a common denominator their songs seemed to have. Earthbound Trio certainly gave me more than I expected from an acoustic 3-piece. They had an amazing well-rounded, diverse sound, mixed with meaningful, well-crafted lyrics and melodies.

By this time, the modest gathering had blossomed into a tribe of vibrant, happy people, rosy-cheeked from the crispness of a clear October night, but warmed by the music, the fire, and the dancing. Everything tied into creating the kind of vibe and ambience the two Dan’s originally set out to establish, and they’ve done so quite successfully. I look forward to the next BBL Sessions, which I’m told, will be held indoors before the end of the year. I commend them on their creativity, great business sense, and injecting a welcome and inviting bit of good vibration on our city.

Brew Bus Lounge Sessions

Alberta’s Tasman Jude, heat up the crowd.

Brew Bus Lounge Sessions

The warm and inviting firepit area.

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