A Brilliant Concert In The Works For Canada DayMonday, June 24, 2013
|From left, Adam Drake, Gary Cramer, Stephen Drake, Rick Hopkins|
When I found out that Art Bergmann was going to perform at the Wise Hall on July 1st I became quite excited. Bergmann will serve just fine to take me away (at least for a while) from my current kick of listening to every Handel opera I can find at the Vancouver Public Library.
I have written many blogs on my appreciation of Art Bergmann’s passion for the music he composes and plays like no other that I have ever seen.
There were two camps of Johnny Thunders (ex New York Doll and now dead). There were those who went to his concerts to find out if that would be his final performance. Thunders liked to mix drugs like heroin with expensive cognac. Those fans, ambulance chasers if I ever saw any, were there to see him carried away. On the other camp, of which my friend Les Wiseman and I were proud members, the expectation always was that no matter how drunk or out of it Thunders might be he would often play brilliantly, perhaps for a few minutes. This short brilliance exceeded that of others showing off with long guitar solos.
Art Bergman was no Thunders and in most of the times I ever saw and heard him he was brilliance and virtuosity from beginning to end.
A few years ago he came to town from his home near Calgary for a concert at the old Richards on Richards. Alas we had to content ourselves with just Bergmann’s singing. He was much too ravaged by arthritis and a terrible back to hold a guitar and even attempt to play it.
This time around I am happy to report Bergmann will be playing his guitar. We can all guarantee that even if he is not up to par (that arthritis) the brilliance and passion will compensate for it.
But better still I have more wonderful news to report. Supposing we could find a Bergmann double, a virtuoso doppelganger, a man, a younger version of Bergmann, a man who can communicate with his double in the same language, what would you say?
That man I have been told by others and by the doppelganger himself is Stephen Drake. In the years that I have photographed Drake and heard him play I may have been to blind in my memory of Bergmann to notice similarities.
But I have found out that the rehearsals for Monday’s concert featuring Kevin Lucks on bass, Adam Drake (Stephen’s brother) on drums plus Bergmann and Stephen Drake on guitars are of a solid band that may not have been able to play in a larger venue like the Commodore as there are no like bands that could play with what must now be considered one super band.
I have also heard a persistent rumour that one of Bergmann’s most popular early songs, Hawaii is on the play list. Most will consider this a catchy, quick punk rock song that features the f-word and which no radio station of the time could play (is that the case still?).
But to me the song Hawaii of which I wrote about here is the quintessential Vancouver song and Bergmann got it right. If there is another Vancouver song I do not know what it could possibly be.
Back to the doppelganger, Stephen Drake, who according to bassist Kevin Lucks (Brilliant Orange) is at his highest playing standard should help keep Bergmann on the right track.
When I first met Stephen Drake and his brother Adam (who is playing drums on Monday) they were The Works, that band that played with Gary Cramer. The combination was billed as Gary Cramer and the Works. A little know fact is that Gary Cramer’s previous band, Brain Damage had a song, Eat Your Brain in which the lyrics were written by a then unknown man called George Bowering.
Both Les Wiseman, who wrote his In One Ear rock column for many years for Vancouver Magazine thought this one of the best bands ever.
I could have never know that as I was raw and an amateur in the appreciation of rock music. I had to go along with Wiseman to interview Gary Cramer and the Works as I was instructed to take a photograph for the article. You can see the sequence of five pictures and how the one I pick to enlarge was the very one that appeared in the magazine. To be frank I was new in the game and I really did not know what I was doing.
I have photographed all manner of band in studios and locations. If I were asked which is the picture that is my favourite it has to be this one. There is a promise in their faces; an exuberance in Gary Cramer’s face. Everybody is just perfect. They all moved into place.
Somehow I think that such a perfection of movement into place is in store for those of us lucky to acquire one of the only 250 tickets available for the Monday show.