Serious, gigging musicians have to run through walls to make it work at the best of times.
The last two years have not been the best of times.
So, despite being dealt a case of the pandemic blues, Cory Weeds is making lemonade with the lemons he’s been handed.
The lifelong Burnaby resident is spearheading the upcoming Jazz @ the ’Bolt festival Feb. 11 to 13, 2022 at the Shadbolt Centre, a weekend exhibition featuring more than 75 jazz players from across North America.
It will be Weeds’ first serious musical kick at the can since staging the festival’s first iteration two years ago.
“If we have people there enjoying it, that’s a win, especially given what we’ve been dealing with for the last 20 months,” said Weeds, a horn player who doubles as the festival’s artistic director. “This is going to be a colossal collection of musicians from across B.C., New York, Toronto and from all over Canada under the same roof making great music.”
Weeds kicks off the festival’s opening night performing with the Mike LeDonne and the Groover Quartet plus a Big Band. From there, he’ll link up with more than a dozen other musicians across a handful of other bands over the three-day fest.
He will be, as seasoned musicians do, wearing many different hats, with many different people.
“It’s probably a little much but I’ve got to just do it,” Weeds said. “I’ve always had a talent for multitasking.”
Multitasking has been the order of the day for anyone with a musical bent during the COVID times. Weeds busied himself with organizing live streams, participating in live streams and running his jazz label, Cellar Live.
Both provincial and federal grants have also helped keep the boat afloat.
“I just tried to keep my head above water and managed to get through OK. I’m very grateful because not everybody was so lucky,” Weeds said. “I feel like over these last 20 months, music has taken care of me. Not that I think music owes me anything, but it certainly paid me back during this time.”
Like Weeds, New Westminster drummer Jesse Cahill has been a musical COVID outlier in that his career didn’t fall off a cliff. He kept going financially via live streams, grants, teaching lessons and landing the odd recording gig that fell into his lap when out-of-country musicians weren’t able to travel.
There’s a bit of survivor’s guilt there.
“I feel a little bit guilty, but I have fared quite well,” Cahill said.
And much like Weeds, Cahill will be multitasking like there is no tomorrow come February. He’ll perform six sets over Feb. 12 and 13 alongside the Jesse Cahill Trio with Nicole Grover, The Tilden Webb Trio and the Nightcrawlers, among others.
Drumming for more than 30 years, Cahill will no doubt draw on his chops to see him through performing that many sets. But the free-for-all nature of jazz doesn’t hurt either.
“I was drawn to improvising and not having to do the same thing all the time,” Cahill said. “It’s a special kind of music, it’s a music that’s kind of in everything. Especially with the drums, if you go far enough back, you’re always talking about a jazz drummer.”
Some of the other acts included in the three-day bill include The Ostara Project, a septet showcasing some of Canada's finest female musicians; the Mike LeDonne and the Groover Quartet from New York City; Aboriginal group Blue Moon Marquee and dozens more.
The full festival roster, along with set times, is online here.
Buy tickets online or call 604-205-3000.