Ummmmm, wow! What to say first. I arrived at the Cultch to cover Sad Mag’s one-year anniversary celebration wearing jeans, my leather jacket and my favourite sneakers. Unfortunately I learned two things when I arrived: I was disastrously under dressed for the semi-formal celebration and there was an awfully large amount of bow tie-vest-jeans combinations going on. [ed. Not to mention that there were a few notables in the crowd including Shane Nelken of the Awkward Stage and Douglad Coupland, who graced the cover of Sad Mag.]
Before I go into detail on the night, let’s start of with the basics. Sad Mag is a non-profit, volunteer run quarterly arts and culture magazine created in Vancouver, B.C. Each issue, through the eyes of Lower Mainland writers and visual artists, focuses on the lives and works of Vancouver residents that are immersed in the city’s fast-growing arts and culture scene. This was the official release of their fifth issue, as well as their one-year anniversary, so what better way to celebrate than to have a live magazine show. An interesting concept that turned out to be an enjoyable night filled with interviews and performances from a wide range of Vancouver intellectuals.
Hosted by CBC Radio 3’s Lana Gay, the interview portion of the night seemed to be scripted interviews, but entertaining nonetheless. Gay is a successful radio personality, who was a professional and entertaining host who drew a number of interesting facts from her interviewees. Gay first interviewed Cameron Reed, a musician performing under the name Babe Rainbow on Warp Records, co-director of the Music Waste festival and Victory Square Block Party, as well as an executive producer for the Leo-nominated web-series Mental Beast. Reed was followed by Lizzy Karp, creator of the Rain City Chronicles, a creative space for people to tell their own stories. Karp, a young woman born in Salt Lake City, Utah and who has only been in Vancouver since Michael Jackson’s death, is passionate about the power of storytelling and encourages people from every walk of life to volunteer to tell their stories. Gay’s third interviewee was the confident and accomplished Graeme Berglund. Berglund is the mind behind the Cheaper Show, previously known as the Cheaper Than a One-Night Stand Show. The Cheaper Show, now on it’s ninth event, is a non-profit event by the Emerging Arts Foundation where artists sell their works for the affordable price of only $200.
Last but definitely not least, Gay interviewed Dave Deveau. Starting his show business career as a child actor, Deveau has gone on to many prestigious accomplishments. He is a librettist (look it up), playwright, screenwriter, dramaturge and creator of Thirty Below Theatre, which just completed a successful run of My Funny Valentine which focuses on the 2008 slaying of a 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed by his classmate after asking him to be his Valentine. All of the interviewees were charismatic and very entertaining when answering the well thought out questions.
Just as the interviews were varied, so were the performances. First to perform was the extraordinarily talented Jasper Sloan Yip, who along with Marc Brichon (on banjo and mandolin) and Stephanie Chatman (on violin) used his acoustic guitar and perfect pitch voice to sing sweet folk melodies that were pleasant to the ear. Next was the wildly entertaining Barbara Adler who rocked out on her accordion—yes, a mother fucking accordion! You see, aside from having an exuberant demeanor, Adler is one half of the accordion and drums shout-rock duo Fang. She led the crowd into some sexy heavy metal riffs on her accordion. Then the night took a slight turn towards the WTF zone. Sammy Chien performed next. Chien blends mediums and uses cinema, sound art, new media and dance performances to create a new individual performance. Dark and disturbing, Chien’s “art” is definitely an acquired taste. There were pestering moments of unnecessary noisy glitch-pop, and although incredibly talented and innovative, the “music” seemed out of place and long, like a musical palaver. The final performance of the night was by far the most enjoyable because there is nothing better than ending your night with a performance by Vancouver’s best drag queen Isolde N. Barron. Barron, also known in the theatre community as Cameron Mackenzie (director of My Funny Valentine, and also Deveau’s partner), lip-synched to Vickie Winans “Long As I Got King Jesus” in a nun costume, and stripped down to a ’50s dress as she crawled and withered around the stage to the gospel.
Sad Mag is a great addition to Vancouver’s art and culture scene, allowing burgeoning writers and visual artists to gain exposure and most importantly, strengthen the community of artists around Vancouver. Every single one of the guests is a young accomplished individual, and I am thankful to live in a city that has this much talent, and this much support to bring said talent to the mailboxes of anyone who is interested. All of the guests have websites and are only a Google search away, and if you’re interested in Vancouver’s art and culture scene, then you must check out some of these incredibly talented individuals, and keep on rockin’ like a freebird.