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Slack Bridges. Photo by Ming Wu.

Zaphod’s celebrates 25 years with live music dance party

By Kelsey Sunstrum on May 26, 2016

Zaphod Beeblebrox is a ubiquitous part of Ottawa’s nightlife. Known to most as Zaphod’s, the club opened at its current location in 1992 by Eugene Haslam, who later re-opened Barrymore’s in 1996.

As a preteen, I’d hear my brother, almost a decade my senior, and his friends making plans virtually every weekend to hit up Zaphod’s. Since then, Zaphod’s lived in my head as a mysterious and mystical place where the coolest of the cool went to party, whatever that meant. When I was old enough to (finally!) step foot in the bar, I loved it as much as I thought I would, from its far superior music compared to its competitors to the awesome people and, of course, the décor, styled after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Throughout its quarter-century, the club has become kind of a big deal. Zaphod’s has held shows of names like Ottawa native, Alanis Morissette, Ani Di Franco, Bif Naked, and the love-‘em-or-hate-‘em Nickelback. If you take a peek at The Rolling Stones’ 2005 single, “Streets of Love“, you’ll notice it was shot at our local favorite! It is just that cool.

Zaphod’s frequenters know that a big selling point for the club is its extremely close proximity to what many Ottawans argue is the best poutine in the city at Sasha’s Chip Wagon and all-day breakfast and other drunken favourites at Zak’s Diner, another mainstay in the capital.

To ring in its successful quarter-century, Zaphod’s, now under new ownership, is hosting a dance party featuring local acts, Slack Bridges and Zoo Legacy. Another cause for celebration? Slack Bridges will be releasing their much-anticipated debut EP! Here’s a sneak peak at what to expect:

Slack Bridges is a new band bringing regulars from the Ottawa music scene together to play soul- and R&B-inspired jams. The collective experience of the four band members is impressive, to say the very least. Hailing from backgrounds ranging from hardcore, punk, folk, indie rock, soul, blues, each individual’s vast resumé in the local music scene allows for a rare combination of expertise, mastery, and pure passion that sets their unique sound apart from the crowd.

Corresponding with Garett Barr, bass guitarist for SB, he mentioned another huge plus resulting from their previous time in other bands: “Less show-boating, for sure. We’ve been going in rehearsed and getting good, solid takes, and any concerns had were usually for the integrity of the song itself,” he explained. “‘How do we make this part pop?’ and ‘we gotta get it to build a bit there’ were pretty common phrases [throughout the recording process].” He also gave a shout-out to Dave Gervais of Swell Studios for his help putting the EP together and making the recording process a positive event for the band.

Barr paints a picture of their EP as groovy and bouncy with the essence of a live performance. I was excited to learn that it is actually one of two EP’s Slack Bridges will be releasing in 2016. Barr delved into the reason for this decision, saying, “We had enough songs for a full length but figured that may be a bit presumptuous as a brand new group.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the backgrounds of the members that the EP is influenced by a range of styles. “We’re not exclusively retro or modern, and both EPs draw on a lot of stuff, including oldschool soul funk, modern R&B and ’90s hip-hop,” Barr indicated.

For Slack Bridges, it’s all about supporting and lifting up local musicians at the same time as encouraging fans to get out to shows, have fun, and feel the energy of the music. This mentality is also very much behind the Zaphod’s spirit and its support of Ottawa’s eclectic music scene.

Joining them on Saturday is local favourite, Zoo Legacy, who weave the characteristics of both hip-hip and indie rock seamlessly to form their signature sound.

Since their formation in 2010, Zoo Legacy have released three toe-tapping, get-you-on-your-feet EPS, played at popular Ottawa events, like Bluesfest (opening for the renowned Lauryn Hill) and the Tulip Festival, recorded with acclaimed producer, Gus van Go, and received widespread kudos from local music-lovers, publications, radio stations, and news outlets. They’ve also recently released a cool new music video for their ultra-catchy (seriously, it’s been stuck in my head all day) song, Plan B, that you can check out below:

Get into the groove with Slack Bridges and Zoo Legacy this Saturday, May 28, 2016 at Zaphod Beeblebrox (27 York Street). Doors at 8:00 p.m. $10 cover.