Entertainment

Kat & Tony 'find joy in the basics of life'

Fraser Valley musical duo Kat Wahamaa and Tony Rees will host the Abbotsford launch of their new CD, 'Everything Blue' on Friday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m., at Cristal Sawatzky's Level 6 Images Studio.

Everything Blue showcases their original roots, jazz and blues styles, along with one signature standard they love, the classic 'Someone to Watch Over Me'.

Kat & Tony have built up a loyal following since they first got together 13 years ago, and they are just as comfortable on-stage fronting a big band as they are as a duo. They write and play beautiful music together and are real life partners too, although Everything Blue is the first album to feature songs they've written as a team.

As Kat and Tony say, "A theme of finding joy in the fundamentals runs through the songs, whether you are down on your luck or surrounded by stuff."

The couple first met in Vancouver in 1999 and began working together in various performing groups and projects, which led to the recording of Kat's solo CD 'Cascadia' in 2001 and the formation of the Back Door Slam quartet 10 years ago with another musical couple, violinist Jennie Bice and bassist Joe Samorodin.

The Back Door Slam name came from a line in an old Bob Wills western swing tune called 'I'll Get Mine'. Back Door Slam's CD, also called 'I'll Get Mine', was released in 2008.

"We were looking for a fiddle player and discovered Jennie at an event in Mission," says Tony.

As an added bonus, Jennie's husband Joe is a bass player and operates a recording studio in their Mission home — and the two couples "clicked" on a musical level.

"We get along well together too when we're on the road, playing festivals and shows," says Tony. "It's so much easier for two couples than it often is when you have four different individuals — and egos — traveling in a band."

It was in 2007 that Kat and Tony started writing songs together, with Tony usually coming up with musical ideas and Kat writing the words, although those roles sometimes switch too.

"I write in scraps; three years of bits and pieces came together for the song 'Blue Moon of August' on the CD," says Kat.

"I'll have an idea for some chords," says Tony. "One of the new songs came from a zydeco riff, to which I added some more chords and Kat came up with the melody and a bridge. Sometimes we write verses together, sometimes separately. It's kind of like the way Lennon and McCartney did it. And we have two more albums of material left over."

Kat and Tony recorded Everything Blue in a rather nomadic way, starting at Dave Flood’s studio in Lund, B.C. Next stop was Whistler, with Simon Stribling on horns, Lauri Lyster on drums and Dave Clairmont on bass at Stribling’s Holy Mackerel Studios. They then mixed those tunes with Victor Smith at his Freemantrax studio in Vancouver. During their recent two month tour in Japan, they wrote and recorded one song, 'Warrior of Love', in Kagoshima city with Kat’s son, hip hop artist Jesse Warner. They finished up the project with Joe Samorodin at Annwyn Studios in Mission.

Kat Wahamaa has toured internationally, released six CDs, had her music performed in theatre and film, was nominated for two West Coast Music Awards and in 2013 was honoured to receive the Christine Caldwell Outstanding Arts Advocate Award from the Abbotsford Arts Council. After the CD launch she will be preparing to reprise her role as lead vocalist in Lauri Lyster’s play "The Drummer Girl" on at The Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver, Feb. 12-22.

Tony Rees, originally from southern England, fronted the western swing ensemble Shiny Buckle Band and was a founding member of the old-time blues bands The Caboose and Shirley U Jest.

They are excited to hold their Abbotsford release at the studio of Cristal Sawatzky. A multi-talented exhibiting artist in the areas of fine art photography, painting and mixed medium pieces, she opened the commercial studio and art gallery in the heart of “Historic Downtown Abbotsford” in 2012. Sawatzky will be working on a canvas as the evening unfolds and thought-provoking local poet Robert Martens will also read from his new book 'Little Creatures'. Level 6 Images is at Suite E, 2615 Montrose Ave., Abbotsford.

Joining Kat & Tony on stage will be Jennie Bice (violin), Joe Samorodin (bass) and other musical guests. Light refreshments and a no host bar round out this evening of arts and music. A portion of the proceeds go to benefit ACES: Actively Creating An Exceptional Society (see website: www.weareaces.com).

Tickets for the show are available at http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/kat-tony-cd-release-tickets-9957907369

For more information please email kat@shinyb.ca or call Level 6 Images at 604-835-2747. (Also see the websites: www.katandtony.ca and www.level6images.com).

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