The Vernon Jazz Club is opening its season this Saturday night with Shuswap masters of R&B, soul, and funk, The Salmon Armenians.
No strangers to the club’s stage, this band will be pleasing the audience with tunes from the ‘60s to ‘80s that feature sizzling vocal and horn lines such as Soul Man (Hayes and Porter), Hold On I’m Coming and Midnight Hour (Sam & Dave), as well as some Tower of Power and Aretha Franklin.
The Salmon Armenians are Lodi Kieken (keyboard/vocals), Debbie Reid (vocals), Doug Sonju (sax), Murray Holmes (bass/vocals), Mike Scharf (sax), Rich Thorne (trombone/trumpet), Jordan Dick (guitar), and Larry Keats (drums).
The Salmon Armenians have had a busy summer that has included a performance at the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival. It was at Roots and Blues where the band was originally formed.
“One of the reasons the band was put together was to play at the Roots & Blues Festival in 1997,” said Kieken. “We had way too much fun to stop doing this and thus here we are almost 20 years later still having a blast.”
Kieken has been playing Hammond organ long enough to see it go through a full cycle of coolness. From being hip in the ‘70s to not-so cool in the ‘90s, and then to retro hip, he has continued to hone his skills as a performer.
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.
Reid has been singing and harmonizing since she was five. She has played in numerous bands in the Shuswap including The Phantoms, Summer Wagers, and Eden Fire.
Sonju was the principal clarinetist with the Okanagan Symphony since the early ‘70s. Well versed in jazz, rock, and blues, Sonju has also graced the Vernon Jazz Club stage with the Ugly Stepsisters and the Bob Rogers Quintet.
Bass player and vocalist Holmes began playing professionally in Vancouver with groups such as Duster and Cameron Molly and The Molly Gang. He later moved to the Thompson-Okanagan area, where he has continued to play ever since.
Growing up in Salmon Arm, Scharf played in jazz bands, combos, and fusion groups including Electric Lady Land, Liquid Chick, Pompous Frank and with the Shuffle Demons’ Rich Underhill.
Thorne, who is now a retired teacher, was the principle trombonist in the prestigious University of Idaho symphony. He has been a member of the Salmon Armenians since the band’s inception.
Dick, who hails from Hamilton, Ont., 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, also known as “The Slammin’ Salmon,” is another original member of the Salmon Armenians. He has played with big bands, jazz combos, rock groups, and musical theatre companies. During the day, he works as a musical therapist in the Shuswap.
You can catch an earful of the band at: salmonarmenians.com.
The Salmon Armenians hit the stage at the Vernon Jazz Club (3000-31st St.) Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Expressions of Time (2901-30th Ave.) and at vernonjazz.com with a $5 rebate at the door for members. Cash only bar.
Upcoming shows at the Vernon Jazz Club include Julie Masi Sept. 17, Mud Bay Blues Band Oct. 1, Anita Eccleston Oct. 15, The Day Trippers Oct. 29, Melody Diachun Nov. 12, Michael Occhipinti Nov. 26, Poppa Dawg Dec. 10 and The Legendary Lake Monsters Dec. 31.