More than 40 local bands will play 10 blocks of West Fourth Avenue this Saturday, but none will be from the inaugural Khatsahlano! Music and Arts Festival last year.
"That's a real statement to how many quality [local] artists there are," said Grant McDonagh, Zulu Records owner, founder and music curator for the street party.
Last year's festival, named after Squamish Chief August Jack Khatsahlano, attracted an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 visitors to the stretch between Burrard and Macdonald streets, saw some businesses enjoy brisk sales and turned folks who don't frequent the Biltmore Cabaret or The Waldorf Hotel onto Vancouver musicians, according to McDonagh.
He recalled a particularly nice email he received about the event. "From this woman, an older woman who was happy to see Fourth Avenue wake up a little bit," he said. "She had lived there for many years and though she liked the Hippie Daze festival, she quite liked what we did last year with all the contemporary bands."
This year's lineup of punk, electronic, pop rock, roots music and singer-songwriters starts with DJs at noon and the final acts include Portage & Main, The Zolas and Bend Sinister. McDonagh's particularly keen to see early 1980s punk band the Actionauts. Visitors to shopwest4th.com can sort the schedule by stage and link to descriptions and MP3s for each performance and band.
This year's free event that runs from noon until 8 p.m. includes two or three more stages and more of an arts component than last year with comedy, spoken word, theatre and burlesque. A free yoga class will get revellers saluting the sun at noon at Yew Street and shops and restaurants will spill onto the street. McDonagh said the section of Fourth that runs from Balsam to Macdonald and includes The Naam has a laid back feel with more acoustic music.
The Fourth Avenue Business Improvement Association has organized the event with the help of McDonagh, avid music fan Megg Cooper and brand.Live, the company that organizes the LIVE at Squamish music festival.
McDonagh says the Khatsahlano! festival builds on the legacy of Kits's counterculture days. "[It was] known place in the '60s and the '70s and it has a lot of institutions and it's part of Vancouver's history and in some ways, [the festival is] an acknowledgement of that," McDonagh said. "It's not about reinventing the wheel. It's about acknowledging your past, yet being with the times."
He says any anxieties business owners felt last year have been allayed and a diverse group of merchants are pleased to see festival-goers flooding their street. "Sometimes it can be a discouraging thing when you're paying so much money for your lease or your mortgage and then you've got the taxes on top, it's a hard game," McDonagh said. "What I've always found what works for my businesses is when you kind of loosen up, for lack of a better word, when we just kind of do things."
What makes it in the end is the diversity of artists, shops and attendees, he said.
"If it was all just one age group and all this and that, of course it would still be fun," McDonagh added. "But this is more fun. This is quite a blast. We're kind of reaching big with this one and that's what's fun about it."