For many professional musicians in the Okanagan, COVID-19 public gathering restrictions have taken away their opportunity to play and make a living this past year.
For Mike Schell, the onset of 2020 saw his calendar booked with shows to assemble as a concert promoter, and a lineup of gigs mapped out as a trumpet player in a musical tribute band.
All those plans can to a sudden halt a year ago with the onslaught of the pandemic.
“Everything was cancelled, so I basically went into a funk over what I was going to do. I was really stung and deflated and didn’t care about music for a while,” Schell said.
Towards the latter half of last year, a request for a horn ensemble backup to a recording in Vancouver opened doors to more work, and Schell began to see an opportunity that could help bring work for his musician friends as well.
That idea evolved into the launch of LMS Entertainment, which Schell envisioned as bringing together the high quality of musicians in the Okanagan with artists looking for a musical backup to their recordings under a cost-effective pricing program.
The LMS focus would be on professional sound recording backed by some of Canada’s finest touring and session musicians. As well as part of its commitment to its artists, LMS will offer branding consultation, PR marketing, industry coaching and radio-tracking connections.
Along with his business partner Lisa MacNeil, the business manager, former Parachute Club member Julie Massi, a long-time Kelowna resident, was also brought on board as an artist relations manager to help make LMS Records, part of the LMS Entertainment hub, get a foothold in the recording industry.
Musical artists from across the Southern Interior have already booked time with LMS to make studio recordings in a variety of musical genres, from heavy punk and rock’n roll to country.
With music at its core, Schell said he envisions the company offering services in a variety of ways, everything from bands playing at weddings to recording and touring support for artists, to assistance in client branding.
“We are part of a throwback in the music industry…I had a friend of mine say you are trying to create your own wrecking crew,” Schell laughed.
The Wrecking Crew was a loose collective of recording session musicians in Los Angeles who performed on thousands of studio recordings in the 1960s and 1970s, recognized with great reverence for their musical talents in the industry.
Keyboardist Leon Russell, singer Glen Campbell and drummer Hal Blaine were among the group who gained the greatest individual fame and notoriety in their careers.
“All I am trying to do is get musicians back in the spotlight, to get back to being creative and honing our art. There is an incredible base of talent in the Okanagan,” Schell said.
While technology has robbed studio musicians of work and reduced recording costs by allowing computerized sound to replace musical instruments, Schell explained s the seeds of a push back to live recordings are beginning to take hold.
“I think with music today you are starting to see songs from the ’70s and ’80s starting to be recreated and brought back again,” he said.
“There is a renewed traction to having musicians play behind you in the studio, and the part I want to convey is that we want artists to come here and get involved in studio recording sessions, to be able to watch these pros play and learn and be guided by that experience.”
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