Expect some tall tales, operatic highs, and jazz from the saddle when Woody Holler and his Orchestra play the Vernon Performing Arts Centre in celebration of the centre’s 11th birthday Oct. 6.
Following in the footsteps of Barney Bentall’s Cariboo Opry from a few years ago and last year’s The Ford Seven Swing and Show Band, Woody Holler is one of many Canadian musical acts the Performing Arts Centre society has brought to town whose sound has a wide appeal.
With influences ranging from the crooning styles of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers to the danceable swing of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Holler describes his musical style as a unique blend of folk and jazz.
“It’s got a heavy gypsy-jazz flavour crossed over with folk,” said Holler. “A lot of it is old cowboy music, but really varied. We usually have a show stopping opera number, and sometimes some sort of tango.”
Hailing from rural Manitoba, Holler grew up hearing the songs of the cowboy. Although he was later trained in opera, a sense of belonging and nostalgia held him close to the early western genre.
Holler is also known as an “extreme yodeller” and says he developed his style on the wide-open spaces of the Canadian Prairies, rather than on the Rockies or Alps. His technique led him into the recording studio for an episode of Global Television’s Cashing In in 2009.
On the folk front, Holler’s debut album, Western Skies, was nominated for the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Awards under the category of traditional vocalist of the year, while his opera career, started in 1996 under the name Darryl Brunger, has also led him to concert halls around Manitoba.
He often performs as a member of the Manitoba Opera Chorus, and has played roles with Winnipeg’s Little Opera Company.
With his orchestra, Holler performs a repertoire described as eclectic, fun and fascinating, featuring finger-snapping swing beats, honey-slowed love croons, and, of course that show stopping extreme yodel.
The orchestra consists of some of Winnipeg’s finest folk and jazz musicians.
Violinist Richard Moody, guitarist Greg Lowe and Daniel Koulack on double bass add clever arrangements rich with musical ingenuity, said Holler.
“It’s hard to find musicians of their quality anywhere, and it’s just an absolute thrill to be on stage with these guys,” he said.
Woody Holler and his Orchestra perform Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35/adults, $32/senior and $30/student and $5 eyeGO, available at the Ticket Seller at 549-SHOW (7469) or visit www.ticketseller.ca Discounts are also available for members of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society.