This past week, the North Shore played host to the 2015 55+ BC Games–an annual competition that promotes fitness, individual achievement and community pride. The games, which have grown immensely since their inception in 1988, brought around 3300 participants and 1100 volunteers to our neighbourhood and featured 24 different events.
While I would have loved to take in some archery or dragon boating, most of the sporting events took place during working hours. Luckily, the games also featured a few “after hours” events for participants and community members to enjoy. On Thursday evening I opted to check out one of these, the Anchor’s Away party. This fun-filled evening took place in Shipbuilders Square, and featured a delightful mix of live music, food trucks, and harbour cruising.
Anchors Away was intended to launch around 4pm, though from what I could tell, nothing really got started until after 5pm. Even with the delay I unfortunately missed the first performers of the evening, The North Shore Celtic Ensemble. The ensemble consists of over 50 young musicians–though only a dozen or so were performing at this event–and they are known for entertaining their audiences with an upbeat mix of celtic, jazz and classical tunes.
Following the Celtic ensemble was The Marcus Mosely Chorale. This talented group of singers, lead by the rich vocals of Marcus Mosely, brought a dynamic performance to the shipbuilders stage. While the group is driven by its gospel roots, their arrangements bring in strong elements of jazz and soul, creating an impressive effect that is both entertaining and inspiring.
Next up was the Deep Cove Big Band, a fun group featuring a lively mix of nostalgic tunes from the Great American Songbook–think Nat King Cole and classic Sinatra. The band, while not a professional group, was a clear hit among audience members. As swing dancers and children got up out of their seats to strut their stuff, I found myself humming, tapping and smiling like a goof–a telltale sign that I’m enjoying the heck out of a concert.
About 15 minutes in to the big band set, I had to take off for the last scheduled harbour cruise around Burrard Inlet. The Harbour Princess took us past house boats, seals, sulphur, parks, cranes, boats, and dry docks–providing a stunning visual reminder that we really do live in a working port city. From Lower Lonsdale to Lions gate and back, no matter where I stood I was taking in a unique and wonderful view of our beautiful home.
To top it off, the evening’s sunset was easily one of the best I’ve ever witnessed in Vancouver. Being at the tail-end of a string of dry weather, it was as if the sun knew that the rain clouds were rolling in and wanted to give us a grand farewell. The sky was bursting with crimson and cotton candy, light blues, and golden linings. Mirroring this, the inlet took on a new vivid life, taking on a ruby red hue as it danced and pranced in the quickening breeze.
As the last of the sun ducked behind Stanley Park, we made our way back to the shipyards, where the Company B Jazz Band was setting up. This was the performance I had been excited for all week, having heard through the grapevine that they are quite the performers. Since first meeting in the Capilano Jazz Program, this sextet of musicians have come to be known for their talent and charm. They’ve toured around North America, and have recently been invited to travel to China for the International Jazz and World Music Festival–something which they are currently raising funds for.
Harkening back to the time of pin curls, vests, and jazz hall debauchery, Company B is an absolute delight to watch. With an aim to entertain, the band infuses creative vocals, solid instrumentals, and their own personal flare in to every song they sing. They choose tricky arrangements and interesting beats, yet make sure to bring their audience a good mix of the unique and familiar. This group was a favourite for me of the evening–the perfect cherry on top of a lovely event.
All in, Anchor’s Away was a delightful party and a perfect way to celebrate the 55+ BC Games. The only disappointment was the lack of community members that came out—this really was a gem of an event that should have had a much larger turnout. I’ve been dreaming of a night full of big band and jazz set against our portside backdrop ever since the Wallace Shipyards become ‘hip’, and Anchor’s Away definitely delivered. Here’s hoping this is the first of many such events to take place in our backyard!
Photos courtesy of Simon C. Hughes, www.simonclivehughes.com