Coco Love Alcorn tours small towns and big cities across Canada singing about love, life and bicycles. She has played many music festivals, including Vancouver Folk Festival, Lilith Fair, Atlantic Jazz Festival and Stanfest.
She has five albums (not to mention a slough of credits on the albums of others – as well as two electronica side projects on the go).
A short sampling of her influences include: dark organic fair trade chocolate, robots, lego, and kissing. My favourite track on her new album (“Joyful”) is “Intellectual Boys” (Yes, my husband wears glasses andknows his Star Wars trivia).
Coco Love Alcorn is free spirited, playful and loves improvisation – all qualities that contribute to the challenge of affixing a label to her style. I’ve heard her referred to a “Jazz diva” and a “Folk Songstress”. By my estimation, she is easily both and she is playing in Vancouver this week. Scout tracked her down on the road and asked a few questions…
You perform in Vancouver with some regularity, what makes the Vancouver music scene worth returning to? Vancouver is where I cut my teeth. High school band and choir, a few awkward busking attempts, many restaurant jazz gigs, an improvising electronic residency etc. I found Vancouver to have endless musical options. If I wanted to try something… someone wanted to play it with me and someone wanted to come listen. I still find Vancouver has that same openness and supportive feel. I don’t know if it’s the combo of mountains and ocean or what but it’s also an amazing city for improvisation.
When you visit Vancouver, where do you usually stay? Well, my mom lives up in Burnaby Heights. I usually stay there so I can bug my teenage brothers, Bernie and Jack. But sometimes I’ll stay at Mike and Joyita’s place on the Drive so I can look at their daughter Alberta and think… “wow, they made her”. Oh, and last June I stayed at my friend Mark’s place for almost a month while I was in town recording “Joyful” (new record!!! woo hoo!). He lives right on the drive. I’d wake up and walk across the street to Napoli for my morning coffee in my PJs… awesome!
If you were to live in Vancouver, what neighbourhood could you see yourself living in? I love many hoods in Van. But Commercial Drive always ranks high. I’ve spent my whole life hopping around between Vancouver, Nova Scotia and Toronto. Within Van I think I’ve lived in almost 20 different houses… crazy! And now I tour constantly like a mad woman. But about 30 years now I always find my way back to the drive. I played on the Brittania girls soccer team in grade 2, learned how to sneak foam off my mom’s cappucino’s at Joe’s, had my first crushes there…it feels like home.
In and out of our city the way you are, have you had a chance to develop any favourites? Oh yes! Toy stores: “It’s All Fun And Games” (Commercial Drive) …. “The Toy Box” (West Broadway) … and the whole “Kids Only Market” on Granville Island is super cool. Restaurants: “The Eatery” (West Broadway – spice tuna roll) … “The Naam” (West 4th) … “Slickety Jim’s” (Main St.) … “Cafe Deux Soleil” (Commercial Drive – oh those muffins!) and about 20 million others… For clothing: “Riot” (on Commercial – formerly called Raya – I always find something there); Bike shops: all of them!
What is at the top of your playlist at the moment? Well, looking at my itunes alphabetically I have Amos Lee, Anita Baker, Anne Murray (kid’s record), Aretha Franklin, Beck then Billie Holiday. Oh, and my cousin Lindsay (who’s on tour with me all spring summer… sweet!) she just bought the new Beyonce CD… so that’s been getting some play.
Can you tell us what differences you observe between your typical Toronto audience vs your typical Vancouver audience? Is there really a different vibe? Hmm, I find every show, every night, in every town is different. So I can’t put my finger on any specific Toronto/Vancouver difference.
What three things are essential in your carry-on? Lip balm, sudoku book (with pen), lots of water
What would your ideal gig would look like? My ideal gigs can strike anywhere and anytime. But they have great sound and great lighting, the audience feels comfortable and at ease… maybe it’s the seats or nice glass of wine or positive ions floating in the air… and then on those special nights, magic strikes and everyone feels it. About 6 months ago I played a gig in Revelstoke, BC and the whole town had spent 3 weeks waiting for snow to come and fill their ski hills. About an hour before I hit the stage it started to come. The venue had lots of windows so as I was singing everyone could see the snow falling all around. The feeling in the room was electric. Everyone was feeling a common joy and completely connected in that moment.
Tell us three things about Vancouver that you love the most The sweet bike route I have mapped out from North Burnaby to the west side of town. My amazing friends and family that live there. 30 years worth of memories I have stashed all over town.
Give us the details of your next Vancouver gig: Where are you playing, who are you playing with and how much do we have to pay to get in? The Rio Theatre, Friday, April 17th. Doors 7:30. Show 8:30. Tickets are $12 advance and $15 at the door. Opening: Steve Poltz (awesome, awesome songwriter/performer from the states). The band: Sam Cartwright – drums; Chris Gestrin – keys; Lindsay Alcorn – vocals; Rebecca Shoichet – vocals.
Michelle Sproule grew up in Kitsilano and attended Bond University in Australia and the University of Victoria before receiving her graduate degree in Library Sciences from The University of Toronto. She lives by the beach in Vancouver and enjoys wandering aimlessly through the city’s shops and streets with her best friend – a beat up, sticky, grimy, and uncooperative camera.