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Mountain of a classic rock band from the Kootenays descends on Kelowna

Mount Rushka plays at Red Bird on April 20

Don’t put him down as arrogant, his reserve a quiet defence, riding out the day’s events, Will Ripley became a modern-day warrior — at least for one small B.C. city.

Fernie, the birthplace to guitarist and backing vocalist for Rush, Alex Lifeson, was also the city Ripley grew up in. Knowing this as a young musically inclined teen, Ripley, the son of a local restauranteur, took his chances at becoming, “today’s Tom Sawyer”.

After graduation, he set out for Nelson in 2005 to study contemporary music and technology at Selkirk College, an affiliate school of Berklee College. From Nelson to L.A., to opening for The Tea Party, with One Bad Sun, Ripley craved something a little “closer to the heart”, and returned to his hometown after several years away.

Fernie, nestled in the heart of the East Kootenay, is a bit of a mystery, that not everyone can catch. But Ripley had strong ties to the community and felt the valley pulling him back.

There he ran into Aaron Wrench, a fellow graduate from Selkirk and the music program. Wrench played the drums and needed an outlet from his job at the mine, which Ripley could offer in the way of jamming in what would become a local band. A band from the same city as Juno nominated Shred Kelly.

At this time, local entrepreneur Adam Laurin was starting to make something of a name for himself in Fernie. The owner of Commit Snow and Skate, Laurin was emceeing events such as Fernival and was also known for his musical abilities.

Laurin became an obvious choice for lead vocalist in what would become Mount Rushka, thus another legend in a town of so many from “The Ghostrider” to “The Griz”.

Laurin’s wife, Alanna plays bass and for some odd reason, she looks just like Ripley. Together these four became an iconic rock band, that has never been on tour.

The quartet set out with the philosophical ideology of being the “The Mount Rushmore of Rock”, however, they got caught up in marriages, business and honestly… bad neighbours.

Mount Rushka has been selling out venues, such as Fernie’s The Northern, with more in attendance than a census has even accounted for.

But, now the time has come to “exit the warrior’, or the Rockies and its quintessential valley, to climb a different mountain.

Ripley and the band that calls itself “down right rock” will make its way to Vancouver to play The Roxxy on April 19, opening for Introduce Wolves with the Barbarians, then circling back to the interior, Mount Rushka will play Red Bird in Kelowna on April 20, with Austin Sawchuk and Paul Minor. The group finishes the tour in Victoria at Commodore Ballroom on April 22.

Check them out there, or check them out some other time.

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Jen Zielinski

About the Author: Jen Zielinski

Graduated from the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. Also holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science and sociology from Thompson Rivers University.
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