SUBMITTED PHOTO The Milk Crate Bandits will be joining Char’s Landing on Friday, Nov. 3.

Milk Crate Bandits bring New Orleans jazz to the Island

Double-EP tour comes to Port Alberni on Friday, Nov. 3

The Milk Crate Bandits will be bringing their misdemeanors to Port Alberni on Friday, Nov. 3 during a concert at Char’s Landing.

The Vancouver-based group is hitting the road for a double-EP tour that draws together a motley crew of international swing stars, jazz legends and circus performers, uniting to bring the sounds of New Orleans to western Canada.

”Milk Crate Bandits,” explained banjoist Jack Ray, is kind of literal.

“It’s a thing I started with my friend Chris [O’Dea] in Sydney,” Ray explained.

The two started their musical career busking on the side of the street, and found they needed somewhere to sit.

“We’d just nick a few milk crates,” he laughed.

O’Dea is another member of the Bandits, making his first trip to Canada after a six-month run with the Australian circus-and-jazz show Scotch and Soda. The whole lineup is quite diverse, also featuring Courtenay, B.C. born-and-raised bass player Jen Hodge and Canadian trombone player Brad Shigeta, who received much of his musical education in New York. Ray describes them all as musical colleagues and mentors in some way.

“It’s an exciting mix of people,” said Ray. “I’ve worked with them all in different combinations.”

The Bandits, he said, bring various generations and perspectives into the mix.

This is, however, the first time they will all be touring together.

“That’s the joy of jazz,” said Ray. “There’s a lot of improvising.”

The Milk Crate Bandits describe their sound as “music born on the streets.” Part of this comes from their background as street buskers, but it’s also in reference to their first two EPs, The Neighbourhood and The View From Out Here, which were recorded in New Orleans.

Ray said the New Orleans experience was a way for him to learn a bit more about the style of music he was performing.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” he said.

Although Ray is currently located in Vancouver, he has only spent a brief amount of time on the Island. The Bandits’ tour will kick off in Courtenay, and Port Alberni will be their second stop.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Island quite a bit,” said Ray.

The tour will see a variety of concert shows, dances and hosted jam sessions in fun and energetic settings.

The concert at Char’s starts at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $15, and tickets on the show date are $20. Tickets are available now at Char’s Landing or at

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