A Kelowna family is in the spotlight for their music

When Ruth Cipes sings, you can hear the earnestness of a 1960s folk singer. Or, depending on the tune, you might find the smoky sounds of a jazz chanteuse.

There’s depth to her style, but she takes on less heady material than her like-sounding predecessors.

Instead of heartbreak and angst, she sings about the love of daddy-daughter days and peanut butter—just to name a couple themes—and the music accompanying her voice is playful. It’s hard not to smile, maybe even laugh at some of what’s being put out there.

Considering Ruth is in elementary school, it’s a perfect mix.

Ruth, as her dad Ezra said, is a real natural. She can get in front of a crowd and she knows what to do and she can joyfully slip from one style of music to another.

She’s “the Michael” of a family who perform under the name the Oot ’n’ Oots and while she’s front and centre at live performances their debut CD, Songs and Tales from the Great Blue Whale, offers only a taste of her budding talent.

On a video for the song “Too Many Cookies,” — produced by Claire Donati Simmons— Ruth explained, she only “plays the phoney marimba.”

“When we were finishing this album, Ruth was just learning skills in studio,” said Ezra. “Now that we’re in studio for our second album, we’re working on something where she can contribute vocals now.”

Until then there’s lots for the Oot ’n’ Oots growing fan-base to dig into. They’ll be performing live this weekend at the Lake Country Children’s Festival. And they’re currently contenders in the CBC Music spotlight competition.

Last week they, along with seven other bands, were featured for being a family act.

In their case it’s a significant sibling act — Gabe, Ezra, Ari and Matt Cipes have performed together for years.

They toured and worked for years as session musicians with acts such as Tegan &Sara and Bif Naked.

Then the brothers returned to their family’s organic farm in Kelowna, to start their own families.

It wasn’t long before the need to play music took over again.

“I can’t speak for my brothers, but I got very depressed (after leaving music) and it took me awhile to figure out why,” said Ezra.

“So we started making sure we had some project on the go. We played in a country music band and a bar band.”

The Oot ’n’ Oots, however, is the best of everything they tried.

“We have a creative outlet to directly express joy and inspiration,” said Ezra.

“That makes you feel good, like you’re living a good meaningful purposeful life.”

While the music is purposeful, it’s not pandering.

Ruth said she’s happy that her family is producing music her friends can listen to with their families and nobody is bored by it.

It’s something unique and special, and why the Cipes’ brothers finished off an album that they started in 2007.

“It was a loose end,” said Ezra. “We always thought it was a bit of a magical album.”

To have a listen to the album go https://www.theootnoots.com/ or to vote for the band in the searchlight competition go to http://www.cbcmusic.ca/searchlight/835