If the impending Okanagan winter conjures images of a convalescent stuck in dreary limbo, sunny days glimmering just beyond grasp, it’s time to break out of the box.
Thankfully, November’s live music scene in Kelowna promises to be anything but square.
From the release of the new K96.3 compilation CD with locals Jeff Piattelli, Thomas Kjorven and Aaron Gordon at Habitat on Nov. 2, to the Latin soul rhythms of internationally renown singer/songwriter Alex Cuba in the Rotary Arts Centre on Nov. 9, there’s plenty of opportunity to get your groove on (if you’re into talkin’ all speakeasy like).
There’s one of those too, incidentally. Jazz Café has reopened for winter, with music once a month in the Black Box Theatre, serving cold gin in old tea cups and cool tunes on the piano.
If “breakout” is what you’re looking for, though, one act slated for the early part of the month should stand above the rest.
“Tons of energy and really good times” is how guitar player Scott Stanton describes his band Current Swell, playing O’Flannigan’s Nov. 8.
The Victoria-based band has just been named a top three finalist in the B.C. band bootcamp, known as The Peak Performance Project. This means they have a guaranteed $50,000 heading their way and possibly up to $100,000 if they secure first prize.
Kelowna band We Are the City won the very first edition of the contest, which takes bands to a Princeton ranch to learn the ins and outs of the business from industry insiders.
“We knew a lot about touring, but the lawyer side of things and the rights side of things—how you own your own music and why you would sign a record label versus staying independent—was pretty new to us,” said Stanton, who is also an original member of Current Swell.
By and larger, the band is made up of Stanton and good friend Dave Lang on guitars, Chris Peterson on drums and Dave St. Jean, though they’ve had a couple of others over the years.
Named at the whim of their first web designer—“we had an interview and we needed a name and a website to give them”—Stanton said no one in the band was actually trying to be in a band when it all began.
“Me and Dave (Lang) would just jam a couple of old Dylan tunes on sunny days in the backyard and then we started writing songs,” he said.
As intrinsic as good food to good wine, the gigs washed in with the music, creating a ripple in the Greater Victoria music scene.
Pretty soon the group, minus a few original members and plus a few new ones, were building a name virtually on touring alone.
On Oct. 25 they released their fourth album and have been touring extensively ever since, down to Seattle last week and up to the Interior for their Kelowna show before heading to the Prairies. (The other two Peak Performance finalists, The Boom Booms and The Matinée last hit Pop Okanagan.)
“Ultimately, we want to make money off the band,” said Stanton. “The ultimate goal is not to have to come home from touring and go back to work.”
With that clear vision dancing across the dashboard, the part-time carpenter, part-time tile layer and generally full-time jacks of all trades say they’re rolling along, building the name and putting the business foundation in place to make that dream a reality.
The big Peak Performance Project jackpot, for example?
“It’s all just going back into the band. Maybe a little bit of gear, but we’re heavily invested into the band, so we’ll use it for marketing, trying to get us touring in different countries,” Stanton said.
And one can imagine it will soon be Current Swell at the top of the bill. Thus far they’ve played with the Beach Boys, Ron Sexsmith, K-OS and K’Naan (when they hit the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues festival last year), Bedouin Soundclash and Xavier Rudd.
To see Current Swell in Kelowna, head to O’Flannigan’s Pub, Nov. 8; cover is $8 at the door.