The Vernon Jazz Club has saved an explosive nine-person band for its last show of the season.
The Salmon Armenians are making a big splash Saturday, May 30.
The band will play tunes from the ‘60s to ‘80s that feature sizzling vocal and horn arrangements such as Soul Man (Hayes and Porter), Hold On, I’m Comin’ (Sam & Dave) and In the Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett), as well as some Tower of Power and Aretha Franklin.
The Salmon Armenians are Lody Kieken (keyboard/vocals), Debbie Reid (vocals), Del Hunter (vocals), Doug Sonju (alto/tenor saxophone), Mike Scharf (tenor/baritone sax), Gareth Seys (trombone), Murray Holmes (bass/vocals), Jordan Dick (guitar), and Larry Keats (drums).
The band was formed 18 years ago to play at the Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm.
“We had way too much fun to stop doing this and thus here we are almost 20 years later still having a blast,” said Kieken. “This is our 12th appearance at the Vernon Jazz Club and we’re just as excited to be there as we were the first time around.”
The band played at the club during New Year’s Eve in 2013 and can’t wait to perform there again this weekend.
“We love the interchange that happens between performers and audiences, of which the Vernon Jazz Club is a great example. There’s nothing like the energy that builds up when a live band meets a room filled with people looking for a good time and a celebration of life, music, and everything,” said Kieken.
The Salmon Armenians’ musical influences include the rhythm and blues artists of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
“Any song with a strong melody and a driving rhythm featuring a great vocal and a horn arrangement will find favour with us,” said Kieken. “Many of the songs that we play were featured in The Blues Brothers films as well as the film The Commitments. This all hearkens back to an era when live music was king and there was no sequencers, synthesizers, and drum machines.”
The band has built quite the following from those music choices.
“I think the fans of The Salmon Armenians like many of the same things we as musicians like about the band and the music. It’s exciting, powerful, entertaining, great to dance to and to listen to. Our fans love us and the feeling is mutual,” said Kieken.
Kieken has been playing the Hammond organ since the 70s. After attending Grant MacEwan College, he toured for three years on the cabaret circuit in Western Canada. He moved to Salmon Arm in the 90s and bought Acorn Music, a music store as well as a teaching studio, with his wife.
Growing up in a musical family, Reid realized at the early of five that her voice was her choice of instrument. She has played in numerous bands in the Shuswap including The Phantoms, Summer Wagers, and Eden Fire.
Hunter has been a professional singer since the 70s when she sang with Shamash, a seven-piece vocal band from Kelowna. She performs in the duo Steppin’ Out with her husband and was part of the vocal trio, Girls Night Out, which covered each era from the 40s onwards.
Sonju was the principal clarinetist with the Okanagan Symphony, whom he performed with since the early-70s. Audiences of the Vernon Jazz Club will recognize him from jazz quartets such as The Ugly Stepsisters or the Bob Rogers Quintet.
Saxophonist Scharf grew up in Salmon Arm and has played with Electric Lady Land, Pompous Frank, and Shuffle Demon Richard Underhill.
Trombonist Seys has shared the stage with such notable artists as Phil Dwyer and Kynkayd.
Murray began playing professionally in Vancouver with groups like Duster and Cameron Molly and The Molly Gang. Later he moved to the Thompson-Okanagan area and has continued to play ever since.
Dick is a guitarist, composer, educator, and promoter. He has studied with Bob Shields, Lorne Lofsky, Phil Dwyer, and Bill Coon. He is also the artistic director of Jazz Salmon Arm, a non-profit jazz society.
Keats, “The Slammin’ Salmon,” is an original member of the Salmon Armenians. He has played with big bands, jazz combos, rock groups, and musical theatre companies. During the day, he is a music therapist in the Shuswap.
The Salmon Armenians take the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club (3000-31st St.) Saturday at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15. Tickets are $20 at the Bean Scene, Bean to Cup and at www.vernonjazz.ca.