What is Blue Night exactly?
If you look at one of the innumerable handbills getting palm-stuffed and counter-piled around Nelson, or if you scroll through the list of associated Facebook events you’ve been invited to by artist-type friends, you might get the idea it’s a concert, or maybe a culture crawl, or even a full-blown music festival.
It’s none of those, but also all of them.
I like to say it’s Artwalk on crack. Starting out years ago as a single-night event — hence the confusing name —Blue Night now includes over a week of creative lectures, burlesque performances, dance battles and open studios.
And once you start looking at the names involved, you’re bound to see some you recognize. For instance, at the ANKORS fundraiser being held to celebrate Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday at Spiritbar the night’s lineup reads like a nearly exhaustive list of local talent.
You’ll spot former Nelson cultural ambassador Bessie Wapp on the bill, along with her frequent collaborator and saxophonist Clinton Swanson. They’re joined by up-and-coming bands like Onezie Parade, the Pocket Divas and Dirt Floor.
On the dance side of things, next Friday at Bloom, Slava Doval’s DanceFusion will be joined by a parade of dancers including Vesper Valentine, Soul Fire Dance Studio, Turnt Up Dance Studio, The Showcats and Erin Eat Your Heart Out.
That will be followed tomorrow by an avant garde cabaret at Spiritbar, where the organizers have invited “talented artists from all over the Basin to come together, take risks and give audiences a night won’t soon forget! These acts will entertain, allure, shock and even move you.”
Last night one of the opening events was a beer tasting held at Torchlight Brewing Company, who featured the visual art of Lauren Herraman, Bree Prosser, Rhandi Sanford, Buck Addams, Spencer Legebokoff and others.
And that’s just one example of an idiosyncratic venue jumping in with both feet to support this local extravaganza.
It’s basically impossible to properly acknowledge the over 40 venues and 120 artists involved in Blue Night.
A few venues stick out, though, like Thompson Funeral Home on Ward St., which last year hosted a hugely successful Art Party.
This time around Art Party will be held at The Royal on Baker on May 26, where you can expect a hip hop dance showcase and performances from Gemma Luna, Juniper Quaintrelle and DJ Who, as well as others.
With all this going on, you can be forgiven for feeling a bit overwhelmed. But I think organizer Brian Kalbfleisch summed it up nicely that last time I interviewed him: “We’re getting rid of perceived barriers. The idea is that Blue Night is the flagship of a few days or even a week of art that can happen anywhere.”
Kalbfleisch is the most recent addition to the Cultural Development Committee, a subcommittee of city council, which I serve on as the literary representative.
Our goal is to encourage cross-pollination and the development of a long-term creative infrastructure that will put hard cash in artists’ pockets.
As far as I’m concerned, Blue Night is a good start. But seriously, guys, it’s time to change the name.