If you haven’t got a plan for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day yet, don’t fret. There’s a whole lot of romance planned at Harrison Memorial this Saturday, with a double-bill featuring latin, cuban and even italian sounds.
First on the stage is Babe Gurr, a Vancouver-based musician and producer who has been dabbling in Italian sounds.
“My roots are French, but I love Italy,” she said in a phone interview this week. “I have been traveling to Italy for many years and spend a lot of time there.”
She’s been slowly learning the language, and fusing into her music. The result is a steamy, roots and rock, world beat sound that blends well with the second act at tomorrow’s show — Locarno.
“My stuff is more acoustic (than Locarno),” Gurr said, and she’ll be bringing along three musicians to back up her guitar and vocals.
When Gurr isn’t working on her own music, she’s helping other indie artists create their own albums. And it’s in here that she feels most at home, she said.
“I love wearing the producer’s hat,” she said. “Some of these artists come to me with nothing more than a voice and an instrumental, and it’s up to you to put the whole complete package together.”
Most of the people she works with are independent artists, and as such, have limited budgets to work with. While it’s a challenge, it’s more rewarding to see it all come together in the end. It was that lack of funds that led Gurr to learn about producing in the first place.
“For me, it really boiled down to not being able to afford a producer,” she said. Since then, she’s produced several of her own CDs, the most recent (Sidedish) being very well-received by critics.
It’s been awhile since Gurr was in Harrison — the last time she was here it was with Barney Bentall. But she is looking forward to returning, and she’s looking forward to working with Tom Landa, frontman for Locarno.
The two have collaborated on stage in the past, after meeting by chance at festivals and benefit concerts over time.
Landa said that after Gurr plays, and Locarno plays, the two bands will meet on stage a few songs to end the evening.
“It goes really, really well together,” he said.
Locarno was launched last summer, and the group did a handful of shows, including the Harrison Festival of the Arts. In the fall, they traveled to a show in Montreal, and from there have been receiving invites from around the country.
Their edgy, contemporary take on traditional Latin is a little different from what fans of Landa’s Paperboys are used to hearing.
“The Paperboys do more and more Latin stuff, but it wasn’t really fully Latin the way I wanted it to sound,” he said. Landa was born and raised in Mexico City, and moved to Canada as a teenager. Eventually, he felt the desire to delve into his musicial roots. So, instead of bending The Paperboys to fit the sound he was exploring, he created a second group and recorded a CD.
“Musical curiosity is a big thing,” he said, and an important part of being a musician.
The audience can expect a danceable sound that is less like mariachi or salsa music, and more like folk rock with a Mexican or Cuban sound.
Babe Gurr and Locarno perform Saturday, February 11 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $22.00 and can be purchased by phone at 604-796-3664 and online at www.harrisonfestival.com.