by Mark Anthony Brennan There is nothing finer than spending time in the funky confines of the Solstice Cafe on a lovely Victoria summer evening. Nothing, that is, unless you add some terrific music by two of Canada’s classier acts. First up was Victoria’s own West My Friend, a quirky folk quartet. Their deliberate restraint created an intimacy, allowing for a full appreciation of the various sonic textures that make up their unique sound. Eden Oliver’s crystal-clear vocals centred a delightful mixture of accordion, mandolin, acoustic guitar and upright bass. Not that it was all laid back — on a couple of occasions they frolicked a bit with some foot-stomping (I mean that literally). My only peeve (and I agree this is petty) was that they didn’t play one of my favourites, “When the Ink Dries”. Sadly, their set was over all too soon. Next was the amazing Jessica Stuart Few. They delivered a lively set of rock, folk, jazz and blues. Given their material Stuart’s voice is appropriately well-balanced — powerful and yet still sweet. She also proved to be equally adept at playing the electric guitar and the koto. It was a hoot watching her hop and writhe as she played the latter (a multi-stringed Japanese instrument). Being such a small venue the drums were a little overpowering in the mix, but it wasn’t too detrimental, especially on the louder numbers. Stuart was appreciative that this was a “listening audience”, which should come as no surprise as the patrons here are normally sipping mochas and reading Proust.