Backyard Beats: In The House Festival 2011

Imagine you’re sitting in a beautiful garden under the stars surrounded by trees and flowers listening to sublime sounds or enjoying a theatre show. Don’t think that kind of venue exists? It does! From 3 until 5 June 2011 a number of community oriented (and to some, pretty brave) neighbours opened their doors to welcome In The House Festival patrons for a variety of boutique musical, theatrical, spoken word, puppet and dance shows in East Vancouver.

Luckily, we were blessed with the sunniest weekend so far this year. The festival started for me on Friday night with a shift on Semlin Drive where ‘The World in Music’ brought together brilliant musicians from as far as Australia, Iran and Zimbabwe.

On Saturday night I caught an amazing jazz gig including the Lachance Ensemble, the Whitridge Brothers and the Heavy Pets, who all managed to squeeze themselves and their instruments in somebody’s living room. This was followed by a movie screening in a garden on Parker Street, which began once darkness had settled on the city. What could be more perfect than lounging on blankets in the grass, sipping homemade chai tea and nibbling popcorn with fellow festival goers who were all excitedly talking about their favourite In The House events so far.

On Sunday I helped out with a children’s show by Lost and Found Puppet Company and Dixie Star Storytelling in the same garden where we’d watched films the night before. The weekend came full circle for me when I headed back to Semlin Drive for my last gig of the festival, three Indie bands: Melissa Bandura, Wintermitts and Blackberry Wood.

In The House is the kind of festival that could and should happen in many more communities, and Myriam and her – mostly volunteer – crew did an amazing job making such a wonderful weekend possible. The festival brought together neighbours and friends, newcomers to the city and visiting musicians in a community setting that fostered interaction, sharing experiences and having fun. Alas, In The House lost a substantial arts grant this year and is very much in need of support to keep its unique programme going in the future. You can help in many ways, find out how here and do come along to one of the ongoing events held in Vancouver throughout the year.

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