making the scene

a crushing blow, some struggling people, but some amazing resilience as well

2020 music scene in review


hundreds of gigs cancelled, planned tours shelved, venues and artists doing whatever they can to get by and to help out, and yet there were still some bright spots

by Miles Overn

Keala Morazain at Priest Creek Winery | Photo copyright (c) 2020 Miles Overn

the triumphs


The Wineries Come Through

The Vibrant Vine, The House of Rose, Priest Creek Winery and others.

I shudder to think about what has probably happened to the music scenes in all the Canadian towns that aren't blessed with the geography and climate that have allowed so many wineries to spring up here in the valley. The scene has been decimated in cities like Vancouver and Edmonton where the vast majority of venues are indoors and tightly packed. In contrast, places here like The Vibrant Vine and House of Rose, who have been hosting hundreds of shows each year for a long time now, were able to still move forward with a large number of shows, albeit in front of smaller crowds.

It was great to see many of Kelowna's best bands and artists performing live at these wineries. While we couldn't make it out to anywhere near all of them, we did manage to take in several shows at The Vibrant Vine, House of Rose, Off The Grid, and Priest Creek Winery.

Priest Creek Winery and Local Youth Raise Close to $10,000

In what is truly one of the feel good stories of a difficult year, Priest Creek Family Estate Winery, after being approached by one of the young artists about allowing them to do a fundraiser at the winery, said yes and went all in. Over the course of the summer, they welcomed 15 young artists over 13 weekends who performed shows on both Saturday and Sunday of their allotted weekends. These special and talented youngsters and young adults stepped way out of their comfort zones and put themselves out there for the sake of a number of charities who could use the added donations this summer series provided.

The artists performing were Scotty Berg, Anika Ellis, Gracie Field, Payton Bischoff, Taylor Van Zant, Lucas Wentworth, Matea Gallegar, Jennika Shelton, Keala Morizain, Alexis Watson, Haley Lewis, Maia Rodgers, and Jordan Porteous.

The charities that were selected by the performers were BC Children’s Mental Health, Vancouver Brain Injury, Ainsley Wood Fund, Cancer Society, Johana’s House, SPCA, The Founrdy, Ozaham House, Canadian Mental Health, Mama’s for Mama’s, Justice Mission, and Kelowna Woman’s Shelter.


Pubs, Breweries, and Restaurants Adjust

Those That Had Options

While they didn't have the space, especially outdoor space, to allow them to bring in live music or in some cases even stay open, those that had some options explored them all. Red Bird Brewing hosted a few bands over a few weekends in the early days of the summer. DunnEnzies out in the Mission took advantage of their huge back yard and gazebo to have a number of different acoustic acts in to play. Memphis Blues kept Poppa Dawg gigging as long as they could, and the new At 509 had a few live shows before the latest set of restrictions kicked in.

The Friends of Dorothy (FOD) Lounge opened this year as Kelowna's first LGBTQ+ lounge, and hosted a wide variety of shows weekly, including local jazz vocalist Anna Jacyszyn accompanied by Loni Moger on Thursday evenings. Alas, they too had to cancel those events for now under the new restrictions.

Those That Didn't

Many local venues just didn't have a way to keep hosting live music. Doc Willoughby's, who have hosted more live music than just about any other venue in Kelowna over the years, with its small size, and cramped stage and dance floor, was forced to cancel dozens of gigs in one fell swoop early in the year. That not only hurt them, but all the bands that were slated to play there. The Blue Gator had to cancel all shows as well, and they are another Kelowna institution that has been the city's home of the blues for decades. Fernando's Pub had to take the dramatic step of shutting down completely for the winter, while the other venues mentioned above have been able to stay open to serve food or provide takeout.

Vintner's Grill, inside the Coast Capri Hotel, had to cancel all their shows as well. For years they had been bringing in duos and trios and other size groups Friday and Saturday nights but they too had to put a freeze on live music for the time being.

Rotary Centre for the Arts

Embracing Virtual

Unwilling to sit by and watch culture and the arts careen into the abyss, the Rotary Centre for the Arts have started moving as many of their regular events and activities online as is possible and that make sense. That has resulted in a number of concerts scheduled for the Mary Irwin Theatre repurposed as live streams along with some events that would normally occur in the atrium.

Some Awesome Videos

Health Care Heros

Early in the COVID pandemic, local singer/songwriter duo Jim and Kim Rhindress wrote a song called "Health Care Heros" which was dedicated to health care works, first responders, and hospital support staff. They requested selfies from people in those lines of work and received 500 photos from around the valley, the province, the country and beyond. Vernon filmaker CJ Clayton shot the video for free, and One House Studio here in Kelowna recorded the audio for free as well.

The video can be found on YouTube at Health Care Heroes by Jim & Kim Rhindress

Shallow



In December, local rock singer and guitarist Brad Krauza and jazz vocalist Kinga Heming teamed up with upright bass player Bernie Addington to record a beautifully sparse version of the Grammy Award winning song "Shallow" in an effort to have a little fun and put something out there that might spread a little joy around during these trying times.

The video can be found on YouTube at SHALLOW cover by Jazz Vocalist + Rock Singer. Kinga Heming & Brad Krauza at home having fun. ❤

Christmas Covers

This December, Kelowna r&b singer Zoe Marie Welch put out a series of 12 covers of Christmas and other songs leading up to Christmas Day. She did them all in her own inimitale style and they include everything from "The Christmas Song" to "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and less traditional songs like "Blue Christmas" and her unique take on Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Absolutely worth listening to all of them, and everything else on her channel as well.

Her videos can be seen on her YouTube channel at Zoe Marie

Auld Lang Syne

Local jazzers Sean Bray and Bernie Addington got together and pressed "Record" while they laid down a modern jazz verion of this venerable classic. The bluesy twist too it seems to fit with this particular year end. Follow the link to give it a listen tonight at Auld Lang Syne on Sean's YouTube channel.

New Releases

Proper Man

Local band Proper Man released their debut album 40 Elephants this year, and the video for "Chance of Flurries" is up on YouTube at Chance of Flurries so check that out and click subscribe.

The Carbons

Tomy and the lads were very busy in the studio this year, pumping out a number of new tunes, with some videos to go along with a few of them. Check out their YouTube channel at The Carbons and subscribe while you're there. We did.

Jimmy LeGuilloux

Jimmy was in the studio with the recently departed Steve Soucy, and is going to be releasing the product of their collaboration in January. Stay tuned for this one, and we'll point you to it when it's out.

Virtual MusicFest MS

Ben Klick Takes His Annual Fundrasier Online

When the pandemic hit, Klick knew a change was going to have to be made. Not willing to cancel or postpone the MS fundraiser, he determined to take it online. In doing so, he lined up an impressive array of Canadian country artists still living in Canada as well as those living in Nashville and other places to deliver some compelling stories along with a lot of songs that together raised close to $35,000.

the tragedies & losses


Venues

We lost a few venues this year, including Muninn's Post and The Italian Kitchen.

The Italian Kitchen burned down in an overnight fire and the owners are trying to find a new location where they can rebuild, but they don't expect anything to happen until at least spring of 2021. On top of serving the highest quality Italian food, it also featured live jazz on Thursday evenings.

Unfortunately, Muninn's Post looks like it is lost permanently. Hard to get any information on this closure, but this venue, on top of being the local gaming gathering place, was home to many metal and jazz gigs over the 5 years it operated. It will be missed.

The New Arts Collective (NAC), which was primarily a visual artists' workspace that held the occasional gig, is gone as well. Additionally, The Forum has evaporated and the space is used for something else entirely now.

People

We also lost one of the most significant musicians in the valley this year with the passing of Steve Soucy. His career credits reads like a who's who of the music industry locally, nationally, and internationally. He was a giant of the Kelowna music scene, but a gentle one who touched so many local artists and fans with his musical gifts.

A special message from Julie Ann Masi

To our loyal friends and fans,

Regrettably Le Mo Nay will no longer be performing due to Steve's sudden and untimely death this past November. He will be greatly missed and treasured as one of Canada's top musicians, arrangers, producers, writers, performers and partners. Thank you all for your support over the years.

Sincerely
Julie Masi

Kelowna musician, and former Matthew Good Band bassist, Rich Priske AKA Rich Rock, also passed away this year. He not only played with Matthew Good with the band, but also after the band's demise backing Good on his solo efforts. Additionally he played with Bif Naked, DSK, The Real McKenzies and others.

COVID Numbers

As of yesterday, December 30th, the numbers were:

Cases - 51,300
Recoveries - 41,681

Currently Hospitalized - 379
Currently in ICU - 77

Confirmed Dead - 893


Artists We Photographed in 2020

Apollo Agua | Ben Klick | Cathy Ann Wells | Dan Tait | Dani and Kerry | Django's Jewels | Double Sharp | Findlay Napier | James Hockin | Jeremy Messenger | Jordan Bastock | Keala Morazain | Kinga Heming | Lindsay May | Lucas Wentworth | MD Fusion | Melissa Livingston | Michaela Bray | Noah Derksen | Poppa Dawg | Rolly Rangno | Sista B and the Boyz | Smitten | Stef B | Steve Kubasek | Stringers | Swamp Honey | The Carbons | The Legendary Lake Monsters | The Tree Huggers | Zoe Marie Welch

- and countless others -