Vernon Jazz Club gets into the groove with Salmon Armenians

The Salmon Armenians’ Peter Clark (front from left), Debbie Reid, Del Hunter, Murray Holmes, Rich Thorne (back from left), Doug Sonju, Larry Keats, Lody Kieken and Mike Scharf make their annual pilgrimage to the Vernon Jazz Club on Saturday. - submitted
The Salmon Armenians’ Peter Clark (front from left), Debbie Reid, Del Hunter, Murray Holmes, Rich Thorne (back from left), Doug Sonju, Larry Keats, Lody Kieken and Mike Scharf make their annual pilgrimage to the Vernon Jazz Club on Saturday.
— image credit: submitted

High octane R&B masters The Salmon Armenians return once more to rock the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday.

The Okanagan Music Award’s Best Blues Band of 2007 promises another evening of up-tempo tunes.

“We’ll be playing our usual eclectic mix of R&B, soul, funk, and original material. We love the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the classic soul of Motown and Atlantic Records,” said band leader Lody Kieken.

Horn fans can expect their usual helping of the Armenians patented horn highlights.

“Most of our songs have been chosen because of the arrangements and especially the horn lines so we can feature our talented Salmon Armenian horn section both individually and collectively,” said Kieken.

The band also features exciting new original tunes.

“Our originals were recorded at Snow Country Lodge in Sun Peaks where we go annually to recharge our batteries and come up with new material,” said Kieken.

New tunes include songs by vocalist Debbie Reid, including Come On, offering her new grandson life-advice, and You Taught Me, a tribute of support and friendship to her partner.

Hammond organist Kieken, owner of Acorn Music in Salmon Arm, formed the band in 1997.

“The group got started as a jam band,” said Kieken. “Really, it was an excuse to get together and play through some charts involving a horn section and the music we all loved from the ‘60s and ‘70s.”

Principal clarinetist with the Okanagan Symphony, Doug Sonju plays alto and tenor sax for band, which is his other permanent gig.

“I don’t play in any other bands on a regular basis.  One recent highlight was the November sextet performance at the VJC with Larry Crawford and Sandy Cameron,” said Sonju.

Rich Thorne and Mike Scharf flesh out the rest of the horn section. Thorne plays trombone and trumpet while Scharf adds tenor and baritone sax.

Known for her work with The Phantoms, Salmon Arm’s most versatile party band, vocalist Reid enjoys being a part of the band.

“I love playing music with the Salmon Armenians,” said Reid. “We always manage to keep it fresh and energetic.  It’s the only band I’m singing with at the moment – it keeps me busy enough!”

Del Hunter has been singing professionally since 1974. Since 1992 she has also performed in the duo Stepping’ Out with her husband Keith Hunter.

“The Salmon Armenians are always fun to perform with and it’s a treat to have the live horns backing us up,” said Del.

Bassist and vocalist Murray Holmes has played professionally for many years in bands like Duster, Ambush, and Blacksmith.

“Without a doubt, my 2012 musical highlight was the 20th annual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival,” said Holmes.

Drummer “Slammin’ Salmon” Larry Keats is an original member of the band. He also performs in a Celtic duo with Peter Clark and a country rock group called the Rhythm Ryders.

Guitarist Jordan Dick studied jazz at Mohawk College. Dick also performs with the Cuban quintet Babalu, which will be appearing at the VJC in May.

The Salmon Armenians take the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club. 3000-31st St., Saturday at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. and tickets are $20, available in advance at the Bean Scene and Bean to Cup coffee houses and online at www.vernonjazzclub.ca.


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