Rick Keene Music Scene – Serena Ryder Conquers All

by Catherine Stamatakos

It is easy to hear why Serena Ryder is popular.

At The Corona Theatre Friday night in Montreal, the audience contained people who loved catchy tunes, Canadian artists and Christmas.

Serena Ryder easily delivered all three of the audience’s favorite things as a premature Christmas gift. Of course – Serena’s recent album Christmas Kisses was ‘the bow’ as those present at the show – young and old; delighted in the spirit of song and a very Jazzy Christmas.

Ryder’s album is a throwback to the days of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, a pair of ladies Ryder holds in high esteem. Both were a huge influence in Serena’s love of music as a child and on Serena’s latest album Christmas Kisses. The tunes, inspiring Serena on a beautiful sleigh ride through the banks of glistening classics.

Traversing three different guitars and a Ukulele Friday evening, Ryder’s vocals were filled with smiles and energy. Drummer Sekou Lumamba and bassist Bryan Kobayakawa are a huge part of Serena’s voltage as a tight, unchallenged battery section. It is difficult to say if Serena plays off her dynamic duo or vice versa. The trio increase their speed in unison yet the brakes are applied with equal finesse. Add keyboardist Joelle Joseph to the mix with his complimentary fills and propelling leads – a foursome which may have been the hottest act in Montreal on a cold wintry night.

Let It Snow, Christmas Kisses, Blue Christmas, Jingle Bell Rock, Christmas Song and White Christmas all delivered with heart and soul. Serena on record and live does not pull out any blankets of lies to warm the audience. Authenticity and talent ooze through her pores and that sentiment is returned by the punters who understand the difference between an artificial and a real Christmas tree.

The non Christmas hits were interwoven properly throughout the evening as Weak in the Knees, What I Wouldn’t Do, Mary Go Round and Stompa ( to name a few) allowed the fans ( and Christmas naysayers) to receive ‘Christmas gifts’ as well.

Unlike many of her female Canadian counterparts old and new, Serena Ryder ‘live’ remains as fresh as the day she hit the scene. Vibrant, funny and filled with the love of song. It is easy to hear why Serena Ryder is popular.

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