As their new double album title goes, Everyone Knows Everyone, and that is certainly the case with Vancouver band Pugs and Crows.
The Juno award winning ensemble, which plays the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday, May 14, consists of accomplished musicians who all met on Vancouver’s music scene and have some impressive credentials.
In fact, their new album is dedicated to “everyone that plays or has played a part in contributing to this Vancouver music scene.”
Original members Meredith Bates (violin), Cole Schmidt (guitar), Russell Sholberg (double bass), Ben Brown (drums) and Cat Toren (piano) were joined by Tony Wilson (guitar) and Debra-Jane Creelman (vocals) on Everyone Knows Everyone.
All have brought their respective talents to the band, and together play a blend of indie rock, modern jazz, and neoclassicism.
Since the release of their debut album, Slum Towers, in 2009, the band has been performing at major music festivals and theatres across Canada, including Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre, where they opened for renowned jazz guitarist Bill Frisell.
In 2010, the group took home the Galaxie Rising Star Award for Best New Group, going on to participate in the Banff Centre’s International Jazz and Creative Music workshop. Arising out of this came Fantastic Pictures, the band’s second release, which won a Juno award for Instrumental Album of the Year in 2013.
The band’s latest album, Everyone Knows Everyone 1 & 2, was released in 2015.
Pugs and Crows recently returned from a trip to Bremen, Germany, which was financed by the B.C. Arts Council. There, they shared the stage with local legends Inhabitants, Lee Hutzulak, and Matt Krysko.
Wilson has been hailed as “unquestionably one of the most original guitar stylists on the Canadian scene,” by Vancouver’s Coastal Jazz and Blues, and as a “talismanic West Coast figure,” by Downbeat Magazine.
A talented guitarist and composer, he has shared the stage with well-known international artists such as William Parker, Gerry Hemingway and Toby Delius and has released six CDs under the Drip Audio recording label.
Creelman is a founding member of the Canadian indie rock outfit Mother Mother.
The daughter of Rob Creelman and Mandy Reeves, she grew up in Vernon, where she studied musical theatre. Her grandpa, Gerry Creelman, is a well known drummer in town, while her late grandma, Doreen, was a singer and managed the Tempo Music store in Vernon for years.
Besides the two records Debra-Jean recorded with Mother Mother, her vocals can be found on the records of a slew of Canadian artists, including Frazey Ford, The Wooden Sky, Josh Martinez, and many others.
Since leaving Mother Mother in 2008, she has had a successful solo career and has led the band Debra-Jean and the Means.
Violinist Bates plays a variety of styles from classical to jazz, and from folk to rock. She has worked with Buck 65, Rod Stewart, Matt Mayes, Annie Lou, and the Vancouver Island Symphony, to name just a few. She has toured Canada and Europe extensively and can be heard on more than 100 albums.
Guitarist and composer Schmidt has toured throughout North America and Europe. He recently finished a five-week tour of Eastern Europe and Russia, which included a performance at the Vilnius Jazz Festival. He is the recipient of the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Artist in Music.
Bassist Sholberg has performed live on CBC’s Canada Live and The Signal. Favourable reviews and articles about his work have appeared in The Wire, Downbeat, The Globe and Mail and MOJO Magazine.
Drummer Brown recently spent six months on a solo tour of Europe. He has worked with a diverse group of artists including musicians Wilbert De Joode, K-OS, Jill Barber, and dancers Katie Duck, Su-Feh Lee and Justine Chambers. He is also the founder of Music and Movement Mondays (MAMM), Vancouver’s weekly collaborative series between live musicians and dancers.
Toren, who resides in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she has been studying for her master’s in music, has been featured on international radio programs and podcasts, most notably CBC radio’s Hot Air. She has performed in North America and Europe, including the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Opening for Pugs and Crows at the Vernon Jazz Club will be Zach Griffin and Alexander Argatoff.
Born and raised in Kelowna, Griffin is now studying jazz performance at the University of Toronto. He was selected from players across the country to take part in Humber’s Youth Jazz Canada workshop and was the recipient of the Vernon Jazz Society’s scholarship award.
Argatoff has been a student of bassist Bernie Addington and is currently taking private lessons with Christian Fabian, a bassist residing in New York. He has performed internationally in jazz festivals and was selected to play in the Conn Selmer Centrestage Jazz Band at MusicFest Canada in Toronto.
Doors to the club (3000-31st St.) open Saturday at 7:15 p.m. with the performance by Griffin and Argatoff. Pugs and Crows take the stage at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 at Expressions of Time and vernonjazz.ca.