The Arbutus Collective at The Media Club

Photo taken by Rena Hood Lundrie

With summer upon us and the patios calling our name, The Arbutus Collective brings that beach music straight from your speakers and into your ears, while leaving you relaxed and wanting summer to never end. Coming straight from Vancouver, B.C., this four-piece band blends everything you love about summer into notes and melodies that just make you want to spend the rest of your life living as a beach bum.

The Arbutus Collective is fronted by vocal, guitar, harmonica, ukulele extraordinaire Brandon Chalmers, Jeremy Rae, who is equally as talented but was absent for the show at The Media Club, Steve Wasstrom on drums, and Jemia Fong on bass. Playing for family and friends, Brandon’s songs soon became campfire favourites and upon meeting up with Jeremy, they soon formed what would be known as The Arbutus Collective. Influenced by such artists like Ben Harper, Simon & Garfunkel, and most noticeably Jack Johnson, Brandon and company provide the perfect atmosphere to just mellow out and enjoy the sunset. After playing open mic nights and other various shows, they were recruited by Josh Bowman of Warehouse Studios to record a demo and are now currently working on a full-length disc set to be released summer 2008. If you can’t find them touring “you may be able to find them at one of your local beaches watching the embers burn down over a good old fashion sandy jam!”

To be honest, I didn’t go to The Media Club to specifically watch The Arbutus Collective. I was actually out at this Jazz Fest event to support a good friend of mine named Dan Mangan. You might have heard of him considering I talk about him in practically every other article, but I won’t go into anymore detail than that, as this article is solely dedicated to The Arbutus Collective (TAC). To be frank, there was nothing jazz about any of the bands I watched, so I’m left wondering where all the jazz has gone, but I digress. The night began with Ryan McMahon, a country rock band that didn’t tickle my fancy. Nothing against Ryan and his band, they are all really talented individuals in their own right, but that genre of music just doesn’t blow me away. I’m still waiting for the day that I turn my ear onto a country band that just blows me away, but until then I’ll keep an open mind. But when TAC stepped on stage, I could instantly tell that the weather outside reflected what this band was all about (FYI: It was sunny and in the mid-20’s… that’s degrees Celsius for all those American readers…which is 70 to 80 in Fahrenheit talk). Brandon, rocking those infamous Sanuk sandles (how I know this you ask? Well it’s because I have a pair myself… and I kid you not, it’s like walking on air) and an acoustic guitar, walked on stage and I realized that this guy didn’t mean business at all, but instead he just wanted to have a good time. I looked around the small little room and people soon began to flock towards the stage and it became apparent that this little band can really draw a crowd in. TAC has a niche, where they represent the good times of life, and they play this off really well. Their songs provide that necessary hope, where the positive is highlighted and “The Rain Song” is a perfect example. With lyrics like “Rain, oh rain, follow me and just wash me clean again…” how can you not hope for a better day? At the beginning of this song, Brandon asked his “Rain Choir” to come join him on stage and they followed suit by providing that necessary happy good feeling when they chanted and clapped throughout the song. “Apple Tree” was another song that stood out, and it truly showed the bands musicality with the harmonica providing a nice layer on the background. All in all, I’m not too sure if Vancouver is the right place for them to be breaking out, but it sure doesn’t hurt that they’re here. I can picture all of them in California or Hawaii, playing on the beach for hours, but hopefully with The Arbutus Collective making their home in Vancouver, they can bring the beautiful weather alongside their music.

For more information and tour dates, feel free to visit their Facebook as well as their Myspace.