Uptown Live returns to New Westminster on Sunday

Uptown Live brings a full day of what is arguably its best lineup of acts yet—all for free—to the streets of Uptown New Westminster on Sunday. - Contributed photo
Uptown Live brings a full day of what is arguably its best lineup of acts yet—all for free—to the streets of Uptown New Westminster on Sunday.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Uptown Live 2014 returns to the streets of Uptown New Westminster on Sunday, Aug. 10 with a “killer’ lineup of live music.

The third installment of Uptown Live brings together the best of B.C.’s indie music scene while offering up a wide array of food selections, art exhibits and a host of interactive activities for the entire family.

Uptown Live is made possible through funding support from the City of New Westminster and the newly formed Uptown Business Association of New Westminster.

The 2014 lineup of performances is headlined by 10-piece Vancouver juggernaut Five Alarm Funk and The Bright Light Social Hour, a rapidly rising Southern rock band from Austin, Texas.

“This is without question our best lineup yet,” said festival director Douglas Smith. “We curate all performers and try to put together a lineup that we think will really stir the audience and provide an eclectic variety of sounds and styles.”

According to Smith, “People are tired of having to pay exorbitant prices to see concerts. We are really happy to be able to present an event like this free of charge. As we have seen, people are responding and turning out in big numbers.”

Smith expects more than 25,000 to attend Uptown Live 2014.

Continuous live music will be presented on three main stages located around the event site centered at Sixth Avenue and Sixth Street. In all, a total of 19 performances will be featured on the Save On Foods Performance Stage, Westminster Savings Performance Stage and TD Performance Stage.


The Bright Light Social Hour

The Bright Light Social Hour is a southern rock band from Austin, Texas. Born out of a university art-rock collective, the band first gained attention in Austin from their incendiary live performances and innovative vision of rock and roll. Melding southern rock, hard dance, psychedelic blues, and deep soul, their debut full-length album led to heightening critical acclaim, national touring, and a rare sweep of six awards at the SXSW 2011 Austin Music Awards, including Band of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year.


Following their album release, The Bright Light Social Hour has embarked on a heavy touring rotation, playing over 300 shows throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They have performed in front of thousands of new fans, most recently at Lollapalooza 2013, Austin City Limits 2013 and opening for Aerosmith at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City. The Bright Light Social Hour is currently recording their second full-length album to be released later this year.

Five Alarm Funk

Five Alarm Funk is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2014.  On stage, the group is an unstoppable orgy of energy.

The 10-piece juggernaut performs intricate and airtight arrangements with delirious dance moves and full-on head banging.


Choreographed arm movements coincide with melodic climaxes while the four percussionists create a true spectacle, not to be missed.

This summer, Five Alarm Funk is touring Canada coast to coast and playing a number of shows in the United States.

Highlights include stops at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Saskatoon Jazz Festival, Sunfest in London, Ont., and Uptown Live in New West.

Five Alarm Funk released Abandon Earth, the band’s fifth studio album, on June 7 at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver.

Ash Grunwald

Australian musical prodigy Ash Grunwald first started playing his own brand of swampy, stomp-box-driven Delta blues covers and originals around the same time RL Burnside was mixing it up with the Fat Possum crew in the United States – inspired by his own hip-hop upbringing and his love of blues standards.


For close to 10 years, the five-time ARIA-nominated rocker has been quietly sneaking out of his home in Ocean Shores, Australia for a couple of weeks each Canadian winter for a “working vacation” of gigging and snowboarding in B.C.

His breakthrough single Walking from the album Hot Mama Vibes was featured in the Robert DeNiro film Limitless. Ash has opened for the likes of James Brown, Bo Diddly, and the Black Keys. He has toured with Jack Johnson and has played the Montreaux Jazz Festival – a true indication he resonates with a worldwide audience.

Ben Rogers

Ben Rogers is a folk artist and classic storyteller with a voice like smoke-damaged velvet soaked in Tennessee whiskey. Trusty old acoustic guitar in hand and boots stomping out a steady rhythm, Ben can hypnotize audiences with his timeless tales of murder, betrayal, war, justice, love and the human condition, just like a modern day folk troubadour should and does.


Rogers was raised, and is based in Vancouver and though it’s a far cry from the backcountry roads of the southern U.S., he embodies the values and musicality of traditional folk, Americana and country, ala Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger with a little Roger Miller and Tom Waits. Ben is an individual as a performer, and possesses a careful balance of mystique, mischief and gentle kindness that emanates through all aspects of him.


BESTiE was formed in 2012 in East Van when friends Andrew Janczewski, Tristan Orchard, Daniel Ruiz and Rob Cameron started jamming with the goal of creating a fun, accessible indie band. Soon after exploring their array of world and pop music influences, they began crafting their unique sound.

In January 2013, BESTiE released their debut single, Pineapple, with a video shot and directed by lead singer Orchard, a Gemini-nominated filmmaker whose documentaries have aired on Bravo! Television and short films played in festivals around the world.


In June 2013, BESTiE were announced as one of the top 20 finalists in the renowned B.C. talent search, The Peak Performance Contest, competing for over $200,000 in prize money to further their careers. Included was a week-long boot camp with record producers, agents, managers and songwriters in attendance. BESTiE are now in the studio recording their debut EP with Howard Redekopp, a Juno award winning producer best known for his work with Tegan and Sara, Said The Whale, The New Pornographers, Mother Mother, The Zolas and more.

Halfway to Hollywood

Vancouver-based band Halfway to Hollywood is paying their dues the old fashioned way: on the road, in front of music fans of all ages.

This ambitious young three-piece group has already completed seven Canadian tours in just two years. Their presence is sizable on all social media.


The trio’s 2013 EP was recorded with producer and “Default” drummer, Danny Craig. The first single, Unbelievable, has had success on radio, winning the “Spin-Off” competition on Vancouver’s SONIC 104.9 FM, being added to heavy rotation in Ontario, as well as receiving feature spins on many other radio stations nationwide.

HTH’s relentless self-promotion led the band to hitting the road yet again for a full month in the winter of 2014, stopping at various TV stations on their way.  Playing at Quebec’s “MusiquePlus,” was a highlight, giving all of French Canada a taste of HTH’s new Pop/Rock blend.

Jordan Klassen

Is there such a thing as unsentimental sincerity? If so, this could be it. A resonate warmth carries Jordan Klassen’s crafted, literate lyrics through vivid images and stories. Repentance, Klassen’s latest release, juxtaposes a multi-textured simplicity with a trembling confidence and a fresh familiarity. Playful and wise, vast and intimate, the album travels from the jubilant in “Go to Me” and “Piano Brother” to the quiet intensity of “The Horses are Stuck” and “Strengthen Me with Raisins.” These are songs that fuse melody and poetry, stinging the imagination and summoning forgotten emotion.


Klassen was named a Canadian act to watch in 2014 by CBC Music. With a showcase at SXSW Music and other summer festivals, 2014 promises to be a big year for this emerging Canadian star.


Local World Music fusionists Pacifika burst onto the global music scene in 2008 with their critically acclaimed debut album Asunción that was widely praised by, among others, The Wall Street Journal, Village Voice and National Public Radio in the US.  The burst of publicity led to high profile shows alongside Feist and Sharon Jones at The Hollywood Bowl.


2010’s Supermagique was the iTunes editor’s pick for “World Music Album of the Year” and a Juno nominee for “Best World Music Album,” which catapulted the band from Latin Alternative darlings to a broader audience worldwide.  Their new album, Amor Planeta, builds on their genre-bending sound and promises to win new fans around the world.


Hearing Vancouver’s Headwater is like listening to the West Coast of Canada in song. Freewheeling, fierce, sentimental and sexy, the band has earned its reputation as one of the finest acoustic roots groups around.


Formed in 2003 by childhood friends Jonas Shandel (vocals/guitar/banjo) and Matt Bryant (guitar/mandolin/vocals), the band’s sound reflects the upbeat chemistry of a songwriting partnership that is 15 years in the making. Growing up on the edges of the forested Lynn Headwaters Regional Park (hence the band name), Shandel and Bryant draw inspiration from the rugged Pacific wilderness.

Tied together by rich vocal harmonies and hook-filled choruses, Headwater reflects a diverse range of influences from heartland rock to classic new wave to unabashedly radio-friendly pop.

Santa Lucia

Like a multi-ethnic gathering of friends, the seven-member band has created a sound that evokes the early days of Latin funk and the sounds of Santana and War.

The addictive combination of Nuyorican Boogaloo, West Coast Funk and the ever-present Cuban grooves engulf the stage with monstrous horns and bass, funky breaks, polyrhythmic beats and furious lyrics in English and Spanish.


Santa Lucia has enjoyed much success, including a Western Canada Music Awards nomination in 2005 and a nomination for Best Children’s Recording for the song The Hero Inside penned for the TV cartoon series Cackleberries.

Recently, Santa Lucia has refined its stage skills opening for many U.S. and international touring acts. Their sound is a spicy blend of rock, salsa, funk and some high-speed Colombian cumbia.

Rich Hope & the Blue Rich Rangers

“Close up the honky tonks,” they said. “No!” came the answer. And with that, Rich Hope went back to the country, live and delirious, a blue denim devil at the end of an arc stretching all the way from George Jones to the Sadies. Thus began the band unofficially known as His Blue Rich Rangers.


Scott Smith eagerly jumped on board—the hottest pedal steel man in the province, maybe the country, flanked by crisp, lanky Ben Laborie on rhythm guitar, Erik Nielsen injecting Rick Danko distillate on bass, and Hope’s faithful sticksman of 15 years Adrian Mack pulling up the rear.

The sound was funky, cosmic, and almost always on the right side of wild. Sets were long and boozy. Before long, the Rangers couldn’t stuff anymore bodies inside the tiny Main Street venue they called home, so they took to selling out bigger rooms, and then bigger ones.  Studio sessions followed and you can be sure there will be more to come.

The Matinee

Formed in Vancouver in 2007, the quartet includes longtime friends Matt Layzell on lead vocals, guitarist Matt Rose, drummer Peter Lemon, and guitarist/vocalist Geoff Petrie. The group began their career touring their self-released full-length album on their own Blue Collar Records imprint, followed two years later by a self-titled EP.


In 2011, the group’s third place finish in the Peak Performance Project enabled them to produce and record their first feature album, We Swore We’d See the Sunrise. The band worked with producers Steve Berlin (R.E.M., The Tragically Hip, Los Lobos), as well as Steve Bays, frontman for indie outfit Hot Hot Heat, releasing the album on Light Organ Records in early 2013 to enthusiastic reviews.

The band is currently working on their follow-up album, with new music to be released in late 2014.

Redeye Empire

Born and bred on Canada’s West Coast, Redeye Empire’s music exudes all that is the West Coast lifestyle. Their unique blend of reggae, rock, ska and hip-hop has been blowing away fans across North America since their first show almost five years ago.


With three albums under their belt, Redeye Empire has spent plenty of time on the road and has toured with bands such as G Love & Special Sauce, Michael Franti and Xavier Rudd and at notable venues such as the Vic Theater in Chicago, Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, House of Blues Hollywood, and The Fillmore Ballroom in San Francisco.  Redeye Empire’s laid-back attitude, genuine charisma and energetic live show have become the band’s calling card and continue to win over audiences across Canada and U.S.


Vancouver’s Rykka (formerly known as singer songwriter Christina Maria) has re-emerged from her acoustic past transforming herself into a fierce, electro-alternative, pop-rock powerhouse. With the release of Kodiak, her 2013 12-song album produced by Ryan Guldemond (from Mother Mother), Rykka has retired her acoustic guitar and in its place are danceable beats and a feisty attitude that’s hard to ignore.


From the phenomenally hooky lead “Blackie,” to the groove of “Grasslands,” Kodiak is a carefully considered concept album, each song written from the unique perspective of a different animal. It’s an exciting re-birth that has attracted the attention of fans, critics and the music industry alike. The excitement surrounding her new album has allowed her to tour endlessly in Europe and Canada including the Montreux Jazz Festival.


To be successful, any major festival requires the support of corporate sponsors.  Uptown Live 2014 is no exception.

This year, two major sponsors, Westminster Savings and Save-On-Foods, have stepped up to sponsor Performance Stages. Westminster Savings will sponsor a main stage located on Sixth Street at Princess, as well as hosting a Family Fun Zone on Sixth Avenue.

The Save-On-Foods Performance Stage will be located on Sixth Avenue at Seventh Street.

Festival organizer Douglas Smith credits Bart Slotman of the Uptown Business Association of New Westminster as being the driving force behind the continued success of Uptown Live.

“Bart has provided inspirational support in addition to providing a significant financial investment as a presenting sponsor on behalf of Westminster Centre,” said Mr. Smith. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Bart and Laura Veevers, property manager of Royal City Centre. As presenting sponsors, Uptown Live would not have been established without their support and encouragement.”

The Uptown Business Association organizing committee wishes to thank its other major sponsors—Key West Ford, Vancity, Mill Street Brewery and TD Canada Trust as well as supporters and exhibitors, including Union Jack Public House, Westland Insurance, TransLink, McDonald’s, RBC Royal Bank, London Drugs, G & F Financial, BMO Bank of Montreal, Rexall, A&W Restaurant, Cartwright Jewelers, Co-operators Insurance and Encorp Pacific.

The 2014 media partners include the New Westminster NewsLeader, Georgia Straight, SONICFM, JACKFM, NEWS1130, Cieslok Media and Minuteman Press.

For more information about Uptown Live including the full 2014 lineup of performances, visit or

Festival Map

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