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Lady Kane: A Decade of Groove
By Erica Rae Chong
Keeping a band together is no easy feat, but Toronto-based sextet Lady Kane has managed to keep it going for 10 years, wowing audiences with their danceable covers of well-known pop, rock and soul tunes.
The group, comprised of singers Tracey Gallant, Ammoye Evans, Kerian Piper, guitarist Don Nevison, drummer Dave Peters and bassist/keyboardist Paul Antonio, returns to the TD Toronto Jazz Festival for two gigs (June 22 & 23 at 9.30 p.m. ) at its regular haunt Alleycatz.
The festival caught up with the band via Antonio, its official spokesperson.
Q: Where does Lady Kane’s music draw its roots from?
A: Anything that grooves. We do hard rock sometimes, classic rock, pop, R&B soul, modern R&B and a little bit of modern rock. We even do swing for the older demographic, but we are selective. It’s about having an identity, doing songs that we actually like. It has to have a groove, it has to feel right and it has to have a sound that stands out from most bands.
Q: How did the group come together?
A: I guess it was initially my brainchild. Don Nevison was a good friend of mine and we played in an original band called Shade 12 years ago. Shade eventually fell apart, because the lead singer decided to move to Japan. So I approached Don with the idea of initially put a band together to play in the overseas market. A lot of hotels in Asia, or in Europe will hire bands from U.S. and Canada to play for three months. While we were playing gigs in town, people started calling us to play at weddings and private events. We got so busy we couldn’t go overseas anymore.
Q: So there is no actual Lady Kane? How did the name come about?
A: Our guitar player came up with the name. A long time ago that was used as slang, but it was spelled differently. We thought it was a funny thing, so we changed the spelling from “Caine” to “Kane”.
Q: You have a very wide repertoire! When you perform, do you create a set list, or play to the vibe of the audience?
A: We go by the vibe of the audience. We just call songs out. There are songs that we end up playing a lot, because some songs work well for a certain group.
Q: Has the sound of the band evolved in any way?
A: Two of the singers, Kerrian Piper and Ammoye Evans, are relatively new in the band, so that in itself has an effect. The way they approach songs is completely different from the way previous singers have. We want to be true to a song, but everyone is encouraged to put their own stamp and their own personality in the song. And at the same time we personally evolve as musicians.
Q: How do the group dynamics work? Are you the ringleader?
A: Yea, pretty much. I’m a bit of a control freak, to be honest. You can say control freak, or you can say detail-oriented. There’s a negative and a positive way to spin that. For me, I just like to make sure that things are done in a certain way that are always reflective of quality…that being said, everyone has his or her input, and everyone has a say. It’s definitely not a dictatorship.
Q: Any plans for the future, perhaps a Lady Kane album?
A: Definitely, I see Lady Kane at a potential transition there in that sense. When the band first started the idea was to write music earlier, but we had so much fun doing this that Lady Kane has kind of taken on a life of it’s own. We’re still planning on it, but it’s just later than we thought it would be.
Erica Rae Chong is pursing a bachelor’s degree in Journalism at the University of Toronto Scarborough.