Arts and Culture

Meet a pair of award-winning blues artists set to grace a Kelowna stage

Artists dispel the myth around a classic genre

Suzie Vinnick says blues music simply makes her happy.

And it’s that consistent happiness that has led her to pursue the genre in her musical career.

“It is a way to express, it is a way to get to see the world and connect with people. Music is an element that weaves its way through all of our lives,” the self-described roots, blues, and folk singer/songwriter told Kelowna10.

Vinnick, a Saskatoon native who now calls an 1880s church in the Niagara region home, will take the stage at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, alongside Australian Lloyd Spiegel, on Jan. 25.

Vinnick, who cut her teeth at the legendary Buds on Broadway in Saskatoon, and other venues in the city, pointed to a range of influences to describe her sound, including Koko Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Rickie Lee Jones.

Sassy and serious material round out her repertoire, with tracks inspired by her time growing up in the Paris of the Prairies, to tales from her travels as a musician. She’ll also be performing material from her new record, Fall Back Home.

She said her acoustic guitar centric show will take the audience on a journey, thanks to sweet delicate ballads and funky folk tunes. The intimate space at the Mary Irwin Theatre, she said, promises to bode well for both artists, as they are often described as performing gigs akin to sitting in a living room and entertaining a few friends.

“Hopefully the intimacy of the show will draw people in … make them laugh, make them smile, and they’ll leave feeling hopefully a little lighter and a little happier,” she said.

Happy from blues music, you may ask. Yes, says Vinnick.

“People think of blues music as, ‘Oh, it is sad. I don’t want to listen to it.’ But in reality, blues music was created to get rid of the blues and make people feel better,” she said.

That sentiment is echoed by her touring partner, Spiegel, whose passion for the genre stretches back 30 years.

“This idea and cliché that blues music is this miserable depressant couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said during a video interview from his home in Melbourne. “Blues music is about healing, it is about connections, and it is a holler for help that is returned 10-fold so you don’t feel alone.”

Spiegel has toured for 33 years, with his first foray into the scene coming at age 11. He grew up in a household filled with blues music fans, so much so they founded the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society.

Spiegel’s 10-album career has taken him around the globe. He said the interactions and experiences with strangers from cultures across the world have contributed to a majority of the highlights in that career. The novel interactions heavily influence his songs and shows.

“The guitar is a passport and music is accepted everywhere. I use it as my currency and the show builds on that,” he said.

Spiegel has toured Canada in the past, but never British Columbia. And before the pandemic put an abrupt end to his global galivanting, he said he never quite understood how much he appreciated the travels.

He especially missed touring in Canada, as he said he always feels like “he found his people there.”

“I have blues music, and I have storytelling, and I have comedy, and depending on what country I’m in, I can only do one of those things,” he said. “I can’t really do the comedy in Japan. The sense of humor isn’t the same in the Netherlands. … whereas Canada is a beautiful melting pot. And I find it is the only place where I can do it all.”

Spiegel’s shows blend his talents on the guitar, with a commanding voice and comedy. Audiences, he said, can expect to see the boundaries pushed on the blues genre while respecting the tradition - something Spiegel said he prides himself on.

And for those who may consider the genre foreign, or not for their palette, Spiegel takes pride in having them singing a different tune by the end of his set.

“I feel, when you are playing any kind of minority music forum, that is not the mainstream … you have to be part artist and part activist,” he said. “Fighting the good fight for this genre, which is the foundation for every style that came after it.”

Tickets for the show can be found online.

Published 2023-01-20 by Tyler Marr

Get a fresh daily look

See what’s happening in and around our city, and the people who call it home.

Our newsroom abides by the RTNDA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and follows the Canadian Press Stylebook. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to send us a news tip, please contact us.

Kelowna10 is division of Pattison Media, and strives to achieve the highest ethical standards in all that we do.