May 2012

The Cat Empire

Australia's New Heroes

The first time I saw The Cat Empire was at the Vancouver International Jazz Fest in 2007. They had a concert the night before that I couldn’t attend. But I went to all the free street concerts the following day. To close out the festival, there’s always a mystery band and that year it was The Cat Empire.

As a volunteer for the festival (as well as a music fan) I always see a lot of great concerts, but it’s rare for me to see a band I’ve never listened to before that completely blows me away. Well, The Cat Empire is just that kind of band. The have the uncommon quality of being both great musicians and great songwriters.

Though they were playing Jazz Fest, you can’t really call them a jazz group, despite their obvious jazz chops. They are best described as world music and more specifically, a mix of Latin music, reggae, ska, jazz, rock and even hip-hop. They have no guitar, but a solid lineup of two lead vocalists, trumpet, keyboard, bass and drums.