Dal's 'gals' ready for PNE opening
When it comes to summer traditions, the opening of The Fair at the PNE has been a long-time favourite for Lower Mainland residents.
And this year is no exception with the Dal Richards Orchestra — and his two Tri-City singers — again kicking off the two-week event, with his famous big band sound.
Coquitlam’s Jennifer Hayes and Diane Lines of Port Moody will be on the PNE stage for two free evening shows: Saturday, Aug. 16 (opening day) with pianist Michael Kaeshammer and Thursday, Aug. 21 with trumpet player Bria Skonberg.
Hayes and Lines will also perform with the 96-year-old and his band on Monday, Aug. 4 for a free concert at the Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver. The dates are among two dozen private and public gigs they’ll have this year with the legendary conductor.
“We love working with him,” Lines said. “He’s been a wonderful mentor and we love that style of music. Not only is he keeping it alive but he’s probably the only person in the world that actually played big band music during the big band era.”
Added Hayes, “He does what he can and it’s amazing at his age that he can still do that.... He really is an icon in the industry and to be able to play music for so long really speaks to the quality of his work.”
Hayes joined the Dal Richards Orchestra in 2001 after he heard her sing with a trio at an event for Tourism Vancouver, where she was working at the time.
Lines was recruited as a pianist two years later. They were on the same bill at the Orpheum Theatre when, back stage, Lines boldly asked Richards, “When are you going to hire me?”
He did and she hit it off with Hayes immediately. “It felt like we had been signing together all our lives,” said the alto singer who has worked with Michael Buble, Jim Byrnes and Shari Ulrich and is the assistant musical director/arranger for the Universal Gospel Choir.
For the past decade, the pair has not only performed and recorded with Richards but also sung in smaller ensembles together, including recently in Whistler for a corporate function, and with the Diane Lines Trio (it will also be at the Harmony Arts Festival on Aug. 3 for her show called Jump!, A Celebration of Swing, Booie and the Jump Blues).
Now, Hayes and Lines have launched Student 2 Stage — a vocal training program that encourages singers in a master class setting and through a month-long series of workshops. They hope to bring Student 2 Stage to schools as well, teaching youth about music techniques, jazz phrasing and improvisation. Hayes feels the sessions are especially important for young people “as the music and arts funding are being cut back” by boards of education.
• Space is still available for their Sept. 21 Student 2 Stage workshop at Treetops Studios. For more information, go online at jenniferhayes.ca or dianelines.com.