Victoria is well known for its historic architecture and beautiful landscapes, but also for its thriving and flourishing art scene. Murals cover blank walls, statues decorate open lawns, gardens are meticulously tended to, and when you listen, there’s always music. Our city’s streets are littered with buskers boasting their talents, and this year we kicked summer off with Jazz Fest, running June 19–28. An exciting agenda of recognized names and aspiring artists was posted including the funky, local jazz collective Downtown Mischief.
Greatly influenced by their active West Coast lifestyles and such icons as D’Angelo and Frank Zappa, the group of nine played in Centennial Square on Saturday June 27. Complete with two trumpets, two guitars, a saxophone, a keyboard, and a groovy bass line, the band erupted on stage mirroring the energetic enthusiasm of the audience. During their set, Downtown Mischief was joined by renowned saxophone player Monique Nordine, an instructor from Victoria’s Conservatory of Music. The acclaimed performer and teacher stepped in for two fiery solos during original songs “Slidin’ Poseidon” and “Universal Oneness”.
Having been featured on The Zone last month with a different collection of musicians, I sat down with frontman Ollie “Happyness” and drummer Bryan “B!mac” and discussed the difficulty of attaching a genre to their ever evolving sound. The collaborations began in late 2012 when Ollie was introduced to Jameo “Wishbone Jenkins” during a Jungle Shak jam party. At the time Wishbone was part of since-retired band Downtown Hoedown while Happyness was playing guitar for Boots of Mischief. By autumn of 2013 the two bands had combined to create a collective of artists eager to collaborate and contrive a completely fresh sound.
B!mac laughs when discussing how it began, describing their style as the epitome of a garage band. “We didn’t know what we were doing” says Ollie, “I was playing the flute a bunch which is just a bad idea”.
In late 2013 Downtown Mischief had their first bill of musicians with Jameo and Ollie sharing vocals and Bryan on drums. The three boys have been involved since the get-go, but throughout DTM’s lifetime their sound has shifted with a continuous rotation of instruments. At Ska Fest 2014 they were a force to be reckoned with, squeezing fourteen musicians on stage for a rip-roaring show that got everyone within earshot moving and grooving.
“There was definitely a swelling in numbers last year,” says B!mac, adding how this year they will be taking the stage for Ska Fest with a much cleaner sound. Opening for headlining act Mindil Beach on Canada Day, the Mischief will be strategized and (somewhat) organized for their Sugar nightclub debut.
Following Ska Fest, DTM has a list of shows lined up for July including Oaklands Sunset Market on July 22 and Logan’s Pub on the 31. August will give them some much anticipated studio time with the hope of releasing an EP this fall. With an infectious and funky stage presence custom tailored for each performance, Downtown Mischief is a band not to be missed.
Downtown Mischief plays Sugar Nightclub on Wednesday, July 1, at 9 p.m. as part of Victoria Ska & Reggae Festival.