Farah El Bakkouri - writer
River Valley Search Party, an Edmonton-based blues/instrumental band, will be playing at New Castle Feb. 17 and JT’s Bar and Grill Feb. 18.
The five-piece band has a wide range of influences, such as Jimi Hendrix, Pretty Reckless, Johnny Cash, The Doors, Wide Mouth Mason, Sweeney Todd and Bob Seger — all of which they cover during live performances. The band, previously known as Straight 88, changed their name after doing some research and finding out that 88 is a symbol for “Heil Hitler.” They then switched over to River Valley Search Party, wanting to evoke a feeling of home in Edmonton. So many of their experiences happened at the River Valley; they felt it was the right place to represent.
The band came together in late 2010, after meeting and performing at different open mic nights in Edmonton. Both the lead singer, Tayssa Hubert, and the newest member, keyboardist Karina Farina, have classically trained voices. Farina taught herself to play piano and read music. Hubert is well known in the French-community and local competitions. Guitarist Micheal Snoek taught himself how to play guitar, with the help of his sister over the phone. Jesse Strecker learnt how to play drums after going to his first Rush concert with his father, using Neil Peart as an inspiration. Bassist Duncan Anderson grew up with music; his uncle and grandfather played in many bands.
Snoek seems to be at the centre of the band — being friends with Andersan, and member of the bands Dirty Habit, Saint City and Monarch with Strecker. He also met Hubert when she asked him for guitar lessons. Farina was asked to join the band after moving into Strecker’s house, which doubles as the band’s jam space.
Anderson wants to “encourage kids like us, who think the odds are against them, and maybe make them think the odds are a little better.” They want to inspire people like them, who just jam together, to take a shot at making it big. “I want to make it big, because I want people to hear what we are saying,” Hubert says.
Their music is a collaboration of punk, blues, folk and ‘80s rock metal. Hubert says their music “represents everything I’m thinking and feeling,” while Snoek points out that their music is “all over and sporadic.” All the other members agree that no two songs are the same; all their music has a different mixture of influences. Farina adds that their music “adapts out of respect,” for what everyone has to offer. When they start working on a new song, everyone just brings what they feel will make it work. But things are constantly changing, adds Anderson, “songs that we finished eight months ago, we just changed a week ago.” Strecker commented that they just “want to bring something special to the scene.”
While they are busy recording an EP, which is set to be released within the next month, and with the three upcoming shows, they also plan on touring this June and July in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta.