Concert: Tzo'kam and Sawagi Taiko @ SFU Woodward's, Vancouver [27 October]

Concert: Tzo'kam and Sawagi Taiko

19:00 - 20:00

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SFU Woodward's
149 W. Hastings St., Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 1H4
A unique collaboration of singing and drumming between the all-women Japanese drum group Sawagi Taiko and the First Nations performance group Tzo'kam. Led by composer, producer and traditional singer Russell Wallace, Tzo'kam is a Lil'wat family group who offer traditional and contemporary songs including drumming and dancing. The combination of these songs with the exploratory nature of Sawagi Taiko's approach to the taiko art form makes for a fascinating performance of Japanese culture and Indigenous rhythms. This free performance is part of the 14th annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival.


Tzo'kam means «chickadee» and «visitors are coming» in the Stl'atl'imx language. Flora Wallace and her family have sung together at family occasions and community events for many years. After elder Flora Wallace participated in the Aboriginal Women's Voices gathering (1997) at Banff, Alberta, the family decided to expand their efforts to share the culture. It did not take long for Tzo'kam to hit the stage and start recording. The first major concert by Tzo'kam was at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in the summer of 1997 opening a stage that featured Buffy Saint Marie and Keith Secola. Besides live performances, Tzo'kam envisioned a CD of Lil'wat music and embarked on getting recording experience. Tzo'kam recorded for the Smithsonian Institution and was featured on the compilation CD Heartbeat 2-more voices of Aboriginal Women. Tzo'kam also recorded a lullaby for Under the Green Corn Moon-Native American Lullabies for Silverwave Records.

Since 1997 Tzo'kam has performed at many festivals and concerts including Folklife in Washington D.C., Full Circle Concert in Calgary, Alberta, Harrison Arts Festival in Harrison Hot Springs, B.C., Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver, B.C., and many conferences and gatherings. Recently though Tzo’kam has had to deal with the death of the founder, lead singer, and family matriarch Flora Wallace on January 8th, 2005.

Tzo'kam, under the direction of Russell Wallace, continues to work within the Aboriginal communities and educational communities to teach, share and maintain a tradition that has been kept alive by dedicated elders.


Sawagi Taiko is the first all-women's taiko group in Canada, formed in 1990. In Sawagi Taiko, we pool our common and unique experiences as East Asian women living in Canada and focus our creative energy and ideas into a powerful expression that is always heard and can't be ignored. As a performing group, we're looking to smash hierarchies and create an environment where all our members can initiate and explore their artistic visions.

Sawagi Taiko continues the historical and cultural connections amongst different Asian cultures — the instrument originated in China; the artistic form originated in the rural communities of Japan. The members of the group are of Chinese and Japanese ancestry. We explore our different ancestral legacies in our art form and our pieces reflect our diverse experiences as East Asian Canadian women.


The annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival is a cultural and heritage event that serves as a high impact, bridge building force that gives voice to the Downtown Eastside and its low income residents, cultural communities and neighbourhoods. The theme for the 14th annual festival is «Honouring Women in the Downtown Eastside,» and it will take place from October 25 to November 5, 2016 throughout the Downtown Eastside.
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