Rachelle van Zanten at Patagonia Toronto – Gig Review and Photos

December 13, 2013

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Who: Rachelle van Zanten
When: 1 December 2013
Where: Patagonia Toronto
In One Word: Influential

What’s more inspiring about a musician with a flawless voice and an astonishing slide guitar talent? One that uses all of that for the good of their own through environmental concern.

Rachelle van Zanten, a B.C. musician, joined forces with Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) at this intimate event to share stories on how “unusual allies” – environmentalists, communities, farmers, loggers, and First Nations, are forming solidarity to safeguard Northwest B.C.’s Watersheds.

Ontario’s Fortune Minerals wants to destroy a mountain, sacred to the Tahltan First Nations, in order to carve out millions of tonnes of coal from an open-pit mine.


The Sacred Headwaters. Courtesy of Paul Colangelo.

I had no idea what to expect when entering Patagonia Toronto that late afternoon. The presentation by SWCC was more of an open book journey of how important the water and mountains are to them. It was great that they didn’t come to Canada just to bombard us with a list of things they want from us, instead, as the lights turned off, they brought their campfire to a cold Toronto night as we sat around hearing about their life and culture in Northwest B.C with some notice on how it’s about to be destroyed. Inspiring – and one of the best presentations I have ever sat through.

Rachelle van Zanten was exceptionally incredible and not a surprise that she was listed as Canada’s “best slide guitarist” by musician Randy Bachman.

I have the utmost respect for female musicians who use music and their lyrics to fight for causes, in van Zanten’s perspective, singing about the Tahltan women’s fight for the Sacred Headwaters in Northern B.C.

You felt the cry and power van Zanten brought to her performance as she poured her heart and soul out in every song.

One of my favourite performances was her last song, “My Country.”

“There’s a wonderful video for it on YouTube and it shows the Sacred Headwaters and all its glory and the elders’ strength. So I wrote this song for them and it inspired me to kickass in my area and hopefully inspires everyone else to do the same to stand up to these giants. Underneath these giant corporations are these humans that are just trying to live,” said van Zenten.

“I sing about what I know.  This whole situation with the pipelines, the oil tankers, and the mining proposals that are coming out around my home in northwest B.C. — they are part of my life, and are consuming my everyday thoughts,” said van Zanten. “So I couldn’t help but write about them.”

Her guitar solos were probably my favourite parts, I’ve never seen a performer play guitar that way and it’s extremely breathtaking. Simple stomps on the ground give pureness to the song.

Between each song played van Zanten shared short but hilarious and incredible stories about her family and life back home which set the mood perfectly.

I’m one who notices the slightest notes and sounds within a song that often makes or breaks the entire track for me. The breaths in van Zanten’s “The Canoe Song” was just perfect for the story and journey of canoeing through the Watersheds. I had ultimate goosebumps as I closed my eyes and was able to envision every word she sung. Beautiful.

“I’m consumed with singing about our natural world, because I just cannot imagine my daughter having a life where she isn’t able to fish, grow food, and drink water from our lake without being afraid,” said van Zanten.

It was a pity that couldn’t make it to her show at Massey Hall the night before, however it was a privilege to hear a glimpse of this extraordinary, strong and powerful musician along side SWCC fighting for the good of their own.

I’m here fighting on their side blasting “My Country” by Rachelle van Zanten to back me up.

© Jessica Paiva, Music Vice

Photos by Jessica Paiva, Music Vice and Olivia Roger, Journalist/Photographer:

Internet links:
Rachelle van Zanten
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition

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One Response to Rachelle van Zanten at Patagonia Toronto – Gig Review and Photos

  1. Chris Martin on December 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Go Shell!!

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