The Poppy Family Experience

On Saturday, July 12, when over 120,000 music and culture lovers will descend upon West 4th Avenue for the Khatsahlano Music and Arts Festival, they’ll be treated to two legendary acts that embody important movements in the city’s cultural history: the spirit of the 60’s and punk rock.

Headlining the TD Stage presented by the Georgia Straight at Burrard Street is the Poppy Family Experience. Formed in the late 60’s, the Poppy Family consisted of Susan Jacks (lead vocals), Terry Jacks (guitar), Craig McCaw (guitar/sitar), and Satwant Singh (drums/tablas).

Though the Poppy Family was short-lived, their influence on Vancouver songwriters remains to this day. Their two albums, Which Way You Goin’ Billy? (1969) and Poppy Seeds (1971) sold millions of copies worldwide, and the title track off their debut hit number one in Canada and number two on the Billboard charts in the States.

“We didn’t want to be run of the mill. While we were in-line with San Francisco hippy movement, musically we were very unique for the day and that’s one of the things that drew people to us,” says Susan Jacks.

Utilizing sitars, tablas, and Susan Jacks’ sweet, soothing vocals, the band ran counter to the heavier psychedelic rock acts popular at the time. Don’t be deceived by their sunny AM radio sound, however: there’s a darkness to the Poppy Family’s music that makes them more akin to the mayhem that took place at Altamont than the love-in at Woodstock.

Partially due to Terry Jacks’ reluctance to performing live (something the other members of the band were passionate about), the band parted ways after Poppy Seeds.

At Khatsahlano, Jacks, McCaw, and Singh will reunite to perform hits from their storied catalogue. Accompanying the trio onstage for a once-in-a-lifetime performance is Vancouver music royalty, whose sound bears the influence of the Poppy Family – John Collins and Kurt Dahle of the New Pornographers, Ted Bois of Destroyer, and Josh Wells and Amber Webber of Lightning Dust and Black Mountain.

“The Poppy Family didn’t last than long and always kind of knew we were going to go in different directions. But myself, Craig, and Satwant got into music because playing on stage is what we love to do more than anything. Us playing again, it’s like we’re kids again. I can’t wait to perform with these groups that are so popular. I’m honoured to play with fans and the idea that they’re a part of this is really exciting to me,” says Susan Jacks.

You Taste Good, Jim Cummins Paint, Jim Cummins
[You Taste Good; Paint; images here and below courtesy of Jim Cummins aka I, Braineater]

“What does my stuff mean? It doesn’t f*#%ing matter. I just do it and move onto the next masterpiece,” says punk rock provocateur Jim Cummins, headlining the arts programming at Khatsahlano between Trafalgar and Stephens Streets.

That Douglas Coupland once remarked “Jim Cummins of I, Braineater is one of the few cool things about 1980s Vancouver,” should come as no surprise to those familiar with his impressive body of work. When Cummins came to Vancouver in the late 70’s and attended a Subhumans show it turned him from a hippy into a punk overnight. He soon formed punk rock ensemble the Braineaters with Art Bergmann and Buck Cherry (of the Modernettes).

Two Blue Cats, Jim Cummins Spiders of Sex, Jim Cummins
[Two Blue Cats; Spiders of Sex]

The outfit received a lifetime ban from the Commodore Ballroom for being the worst band the venue’s manager had ever heard. Fortunately the ban didn’t last very long as the Braineaters broke up at their record release party, where Cummins wound up dancing on the stage without pants.

Since then, he’s been ground zero in the Vancouver punk underground art scene. Involved in performance arts, painting, photography, film, and music, Cummins’ work has been featured in film, television and magazines, and has appeared in a multitude of solo and group exhibits worldwide.

“At Return to Planet X there’ll be a lot of cartoon monsters. It’s my Saturday morning that never was, but I wish that was,” says Jim Cummins.

Blockhead party t-shirt, Jim Cummins Sky Ponies, Jim Cummins
[Blockhead Party t-shirt; Sky Ponies]

The retrospective of his work, titled Planet X: The Underground World of Jim Cummins and I, Braineater, will feature a whitewalls exhibition of his nearly four decade-long career, including paintings, silkscreened show posters, and early punk scene photography. In addition, there’ll be two live performances: one with longtime collaborator Phil Western (Download), and another in which Cummins will be backed up by a band of cartoon monsters.

“It’s kind of funny, after all these years nothing has never changed and inside of me the energy is all the same. I still have a great desire to create and make. I’m a madman, I’m a machine of art, and I’m just glad someone gave me a call as I feel like I get ignored in this city sometimes,” says Jim Cummins.

Khatsahlano Set Times

TD Stage presented by the Georgia Straight at Burrard Street
The Poppy Family Experience | 8-9 pm 

Lightning Dust | 6:30-7:30 pm 

The Evaporators | 5:30-6:10 pm 

Humans | 4:30-5:10 pm 

Young Liars | 3:30-4:10 pm

Rykka | 2:30-3:10 pm 

The Graham Brown Band | 1:30-2:10 pm 

The Shilohs | 12:30-1 pm

Wild Moccasins | 12-12:15 pm

Opening Ceremony | 11:30 am

Zulu Records Stage presented by CiTR at Cypress Street
White Poppy | 7-7:40 pm 

Holy Hum | 6-6:40 pm

Young Braised | 5-5:40 pm

Cool | 4-4:40 pm

Inherent Vices | 3-3:40 pm

Sunday Morning | 2-2:40 pm

Shawn Mrazek Lives! | 1-1:40 pm

Phoenix Thunderbird | 12-12:40 pm

YYoga Classes with Rebekka Walker | 11-12 pm

Car2Go Stage presented by BeatRoute at Maple Street
Nü Sensae | 7:30-8:10 pm

Jay Arner | 6:30-7:10 pm

Flyin’ | 5:30-6:10 pm

Tough Age | 4:30-5:10 pm 

Piggy | 3:30-4:10 pm 

Synthcake | 2:30-3:10 pm

Woolworm | 1:30-2:10 pm

YYoga Classes with Coco Findali | 11:30-12:30 pm

TheHouse.FM Stage at Yew Street

Rook Milo | 7:30-9 pm 

DJ. D.Dee | 6-7:30 pm

Project Pablo | 4:30-5:20 pm 

Bobby Draino | 3-4:30 pm

Phil Western | 1:30-3 pm 

Fashion Show | 12-1:30 pm

Semperviva Yoga | 11-12 pm

Exclaim! Stage at Vine Street

The Wayward Hearts | 7-7:40 pm 

Sly Business | 6-6:40 pm 

Mac Pontiac | 5-5:40 pm 

Jody Glenham | 4-4:40 pm 

Facts | 3-3:40 pm

Mesa Lun | 2-2:40 pm 

Raised on DJs | 1-1:40 pm 

Tropidelica | 11:15-12 pm

Peak Performance Project Stage presented by Music BC at Balsam Street
Good For Grapes | 8:30-9 pm

Damn Fools | 7-7:30 pm 

Shred Kelly | 7:45-8:15 pm

Miss Quincy and the Showdown | 6:15-6:45 pm 

Derrival | 5:30-6 pm 

Altered By Mom | 4:45-5:15 pm 

Goodwood Atoms | 4-4:30 pm

Jodi Pederson | 3:15-4pm

The Tourist Company | 2:30-3 pm 

Jon Bryant | 1:45-2:15 pm

The Wild Romantics | 1-1:30 pm 

David Newberry | 12:15-12:45 pm

Desjardins Financial Stage at Trafalgar Street
New: Children’s Morning Matinee Programming

Mu | 7-7:40 pm 

The Wild North | 6-6:40 pm

Nicholas Krgovich | 5-5:40 pm

Star City | 4-4:40 pm

The Greater Wall | 3-4:40 pm 

Rockin’ Robin | 2-2:30 pm

Wild Moccasins | 1-1:30 pm

Matt Henry | 12:30-1 pm

Rockin’ Robin | 12-12:30 pm 

Chris Hamilton | 11:30-12 pm

Matt Henry | 11-11:30 am

CityTV Stage at MacDonald Street

The Grapes of Wrath | 7:30-8:30 pm

Bend Sinister | 6-7 pm 

Aidan Knight | 5-5:40 pm 

The Furies | 4-4:40 pm

Hard Rock Miners Sing-Along | 3-3:40 pm

Geoff Berner Trio | 2-2:40 pm 

Willie Thrasher | 1-1:40 pm

The Washboard Union | 12-12:40 pm

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