Songs Sung Well, Over Music Made Magically
November 8, 2021 - by Miles Overn
The Songs of the Southern Belles musical revue returned after a Covid-forced absence with a new band member, a few new tunes, and all of the musicianship, musicality and entertainment value of the original producton from a couple years ago. As then,
this ensemble masterfully walked that thin line between playing homage to the original artists and their versions of the songs on the one side, and making it current by utilizing the skills and musical tendencies of its band members wisely and well
on the other.
The show started with the band laying down a groovy country vamp while acoustic guitarist Loni Moger welcomed lead vocalist Kinga Heming to the stage. A warm welcome to the audience from the local golden-voiced female singer and they were off leading
the crowd down memory lane and across a vast musical landscape that included everyone from Hank Williams to Dolly Parton, from Eddie Rabbit to Waylon and Willie, and even Allison Krause to Maren Morris. Even on a bad day, Heming is hard to beat among
a group of very good local female vocalists. On a good day, as she was for this show, she is almost unapproachable.
While Heming took the lead vocal on most of the songs, guitarists Loni Moger and Sean Bray each took their turn, singing Waylon's "Luchenbach, Texas" and Willie's "On The Road Again" respectively. They are both quite good singers, a fact that is often overlooked
due to their prowess on their instruments. The recently added Shamma Sabir, along with her background singing and fiddle playing throughout the night, also stepped up to the mic and delivered a soulful version of Canadian country music star Anne Murray's "Snowbird".
Sean Bray, who along with being the lead guitarist, music director, and writer of the instrumental "Belles Blues" that was played during the show, is the creator of the revue, and has aspirations and plans to take the show on the road in the years ahead.
The thought and effort that went into the creation of this musical review, from selecting the songs as well as selecting the players and rehearsing not just the tunes but the transitions between them, all were both apparent and invisible at the same time. This was a smooth
show worthy of playing soft-seaters across the country.
There truly was something for every country music aficionado in this show, whether they were fans of classic country stars such as Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams, or into the more currently charting artists like Allison Krauss and Maren Morris. As is the case
with the Grand Ole Opry show after which it was modelled, the pulling together of great musicians, and songs from yesterday and today, came across as very natural and extremely welcoming.
Kelowna guitarist Sean Bray is considered to be one of the top 50 guitarists in Canada. His facility in both jazz and country is remarkable, allowing him to play both styles authentically and fluidly. The country tele-master side of his playing was on full display
this night with lots of razor sharp country bends along with melodic lines and solos.
Kelowna singer Kinga Heming was nominated for a Grammy award 2 years ago in the Best Jazz Album category for her Forever In My Heart album that she released that year.