JULY 8, 2017. It was a HOT day in the Boundary region of southern British Columbia! Very hot! Melting hot! Temperature about 37 C (98.6 F = normal body temperature). And on that very day there were over 200 reported wild fires, some caused by lightening, others by humans. Several of the fires threatened homes, businesses, farms, towns and wildlife, while thousands were forced to evacuate, in particular, the whole town of Cache Creek.
Needless to say, when I reached the Homecoming Festival at the Christina Lake Community Centre I was prepared for heat with a shade umbrella, spray bottle, cold water in a cooler, and loose cotton clothing to keep cool. I parked Big Red Bunty (my Windstar van) in the shade of a tree, left her windows open a titch and added window shades to block the light. Still, the old van was cooking hot.
After a few rounds of visiting vendors at the site, I returned to the van to have a snack and to watch out for the arrival of Class Action, the Ska band from Calgary - and my niece Lisa Phillips who plays bari-saxophone. When I finally saw their camper-bus I walked over to meet them. They were hot, really hot, and minus two members - Nathan Obrieter on trombone, and Evan Candido on trumpet. But the show must go on. After space was cleared for them under a rather small awning, they carried amps, mics, and instruments across the grounds and set up.
The noon-day sun was fierce as the group (Alex Free on bass, Trevor Richards on guitar, Garielle Brown on saxophone, Tracey Wells on drums, and Lisa on bari-sax) tuned up and revved up. Later over lunch Garielle explained, "It was so hot we couldn't tune the saxophones. We've never had that problem before. We were trying for a balance, so between every song we had to adjust our mouthpieces."
In the searing heat, they played and swayed to Reggae and Funky beats of their rocking Ska sound. "For this afternoon we're doing the more mellow pieces, a slower set," explained Garielle as they began. "Then this evening on the beach we'll be letting loose."
First was a rhythmic Shining On by Big D and the Kids Table. I can understand the choice as the lyrics, sung by Trever, say, No, I can't help but just smile, while that damn sun is shining on, dang it's just shining down, down over me.
Now that's a beat I enjoy. In my younger days while folks were into disco, I was into Funk, R&B and Reggae, that different beat, rhythmic, get-up-and-dance rhythm which just makes you want to move.
I took a wee film of the band with my little Fuji camera but I had a hard time keeping the shots smooth and still as I walked and moved to the music. Couldn't help it; the beat was good. Unfortunately, the sound on the camera doesn't do justice.
Next up was Music is My Weapon, an original Class Action song, normally with lyrics. Garielle carried a nifty tune with the saxophone, Lisa came in the deep end, Alex gave the bass, and Trevor gave some neat WOW to the guitar, reminiscent of the Shaft theme by Isaac Hayes. It brought back great memories.
Wasted Days by the Slackers had both saxes bouncing along to the Reggae rhythm while Garielle also sang the broken-hearted type of love-song lyrics. And so the beat continued with a full set of super Class Action sound.
As I took some photos a vendor came up to me and said, "They are GREAT!"
Of course, I agreed. I mean, it's a style of music I have always enjoyed - get down and get funky. It brought back memories of clubs in Toronto, whole brass sections grooving and swaying with the sounds, and shows like Sly and the Family Stone, BB King, and, at The Cave in Vancouver, Blood Sweat and Tears with David Clayton-Thomas. Am I dating myself here? Great memories for sure - and would you believe, hot chocolate with BS&T after their show? Those were the days.
Meanwhile, music moves on, and what I have seen of Class Action impresses me. I know I may be biased, because Lisa is my niece, but hey, they have a sound that moves, is evidently well rehearsed, grooving together, seasoned and fine-tuned. And, they are having fun! When musicians start moving and swaying together you know they are right into the music.
Later at Lisa's Bistro, during a very late lunch, Garielle said, "We play off each other. Sometimes if we hit a wrong note we integrate it as if it was done on purpose." This was after chatting about the relationship of their music and jazz, where each musician gets to do their thing then swing back into the flow of the group.
As we finished lunch, Lisa Smith and her staff at the Bistro, while cleaning up in the kitchen, cranked up the stereo and everyone, including the band, joined in with Will Smith's The Prince of Belair.
I didn't get a chance to see Class Action at their evening show on the beach but I am sure their sound would have had everyone 'moving.' (And it did.)
With the addition of their full brass section their sound would definitely be one to be reckoned with - a sound that I understand is now called Ska. You just gotta move to it!
I thank the band for letting me 'hang out.' They are great folks with amazing energy! Way to go Class Action!
Links to more information For more information about Class Action visit the the Class Action website.
NOTE: There are many more articles on this site about great musicians and artists - see Articles Index.