September 2007


Plan C
at The 6th Annual Small World Music Festival
September 21, 2007 Lula Lounge Toronto

Lula lounge
Moving Your Heart, Feet and Conscience
by Laila Boulos with photos by Roger Humbert
On this beautiful evening, Garvia Bailey, host of Big City, Small World, was having an easy time warming up the animated and diverse concert-goers streaming into Lula Lounge. This performance was being recorded for her show which airs on CBC Radio One (99.1 FM) Saturdays from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

In her introduction, Garvia mentioned that Plan C, according to bandleader Juan Valencia, "Is just a crazy family that jumps on stage and has fun". Their infectious music, inflected with afrobeat, cumbia, jazz, salsa and hip hop was probably penned by the carefree youngest sibling in that family. At the other end, their meaningful lyrics dealing with world problems, destruction through war, and the exploitation of the poor and weak, could have been written by the family's sensitive, responsible, older sibling.

Wondering about the comment about the band having fun on stage? While Plan C plays, there are two parties going on: an explosive one on the stage; and, the other, a party of similar proportions, happening amongst their audience throughout the club. At times, it can be difficult to deduce which group is experiencing the highest level of fun!

Since their formation in 2002, Plan C has been receiving attention and accolades from around the globe. They were nominated for Best Song of 2004/2005 and, also in 2005, Best Group by the Canadian Latin Industry Awards.

On this particular evening, their first piece, an afrobeat number oozing with heavy electrifying percussion and lively call-and-response between the trumpet and keys, had the dance floor packed and it remained so for the rest of the evening. DJ Medicineman, well-known host of No Man's Land on CIUT 89.5 FM, along with popular Toronto DJ Fab, were dedicated to the task of keeping people pumped, providing excellent music at the beginning, middle and end of the evening. As usual, Howard Laurie skilfully guided Lula Lounge's stellar sound system and the rest of the staff, as always, kept the mood light.

Juan Carlos Valencia
Juan dedicated a song, "Estoy Contigo", meaning "I'm With You", to his father-in-law (who recently passed away) and to his wife and her family. This song filled the room with cool effects compliments of the keys and a heart-stirringly haunting saxophone solo. Oliver Miguel, on soprano sax was 'adopted' into the family for the next song, “Iraq”. He skillfully incorporated slow-paced klezmer strains that smoothly shifted into spinning top madness turning slowly back into a solo sax accompanied by smooth work on the keys. The resulting effect? The crowd went crazy!

There was such a variety of rhythms and gyrations emanating from the stage during the evening that it was easy to think that the 'C' in Plan C stood for 'circus' as there was so much happening. At one point, the band was providing snake charmer grooves while Valencia skilfully and playfully guided the crowd through the following call-and-response: "When I say 'a', you say 'b'" and eventually, "When I say 'plan'", the crowd replyed with (you guessed it!) 'c'. It was cute, predictable, and elicited the expected laughter from the crowd.

Later in the evening, a gaita (a Colombian instrument in the flute family) was produced. Wowing the crowd with soul-stirring drones and providing the core for a jungle rhythmed piece with absolutely stunning instrumentation, Valencia, along with Chris Molder, alternatively worked the beautiful gaita to their advantage. There was also a surreal steel pan moment where Diego Lasheras snuck in to make the crowd go bananas as he proceeded to unabashedly beat up his steel pan to magnificent effect.

As the music flowed from cumbia to jazz to afrobeat during the course of the evening, the bandmembers glided freely across the stage, trading microphones, laughter and dances. There is such an easy camaraderie among the members that they are a pleasure to watch — period! Thankfully though, their music is infectious while their lyrical conscience is aware of the trials and tribulations of our brothers and sisters around the world.

Plan C, as mentioned, deals with the injustices of today and the songs from their albums Tercer Mundo, released in 2004 and Volar, their recent 2007 release, call attention to these issues through songs such as: "Agua" ('Water'), "Iraq" and "Africa", among others.

Their three-song encore showcased fabulous vocals, and maintained the same level of energy. It appeared the band was as reluctant to leave as their audience members were to see them go!

Janelle Monique & Juan Carlos Valencia
Plan C
Juan Carlos Valencia – bandleader, lead vocals, guitar
Janelle Monique – vocals; Chris Molder – keys, accordion
Alberto Campuzano – bass; Max Senitt – drums; Diego Lasheras – percussion
Jonathan Kay – saxophone; Peter Kim – trumpet

> www.planc.ca <

Listen to this concert @ CBC Radio 2 – Concerts On Demand.
We welcome your comments and feedback
Laila Boulos
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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