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.

Visit Serena Here

Smoke Meat Pete Here

Molly Thomason; Put Another Dime in the Jukebox Baby!

For England – born Molly Thomason, her third album is a charm.

With a love of Joan Jett propelling her through Toronto ( her adopted home), Molly’s star is on the rise. Citing two of Canada’s sweethearts as influences, it is easy to hear why Molly uses the ‘teenage angst’ in her favor.

Columbus Field is the name of the album. Columbus Field is the place where some of her thoughts arrive from. Dirty, gritty and complete with ear-catching melodies, Columbus Field is a record to be reckoned with.

Molly …?

Please visit Molly’s site HERE!

Serena Ryder – Feels Like Home

Serena Ryder, hot off the heels of a MMVA for ‘Rock/ Alternative Video of the Year for her new song; ‘Stompa‘- considers the success of her new album; ‘Harmony’, somewhat home -based.

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“The entire album was recorded in L.A.”‘ Says Ryder.'”After almost ridding myself of sixty songs which were penned for the sessions, I decided to simplify everything. ‘Stompa’ took just three hours to record and the entire album was completed in a few weeks.”

Much of the disc’s feel was concocted with an idea of simplicity as the thought process. Ryder wanting to ‘have fun’ and evoke feelings of happiness to whoever hears the songs. Forget their bad days and move into an upbeat state of mind.

‘I had written a lot of songs in Ashbury, my place near Toronto.” Explains Serena.” We have converted a two car garage into a studio and it is covered in raw cedar. The whole thing is like a sauna. We call it the cottage. It is also decorated by all these old antiques we discovered in and around my neighborhood. Religious statues and that type of thing. It makes me feel comfortable when I am there and it allows me to feel like I am having fun while I am writing and recording.”

For Serena, that feeling delivers her to a growing up era in Peterborough, Ontario. A place where she educated herself musically surrounded by a community of musicians which were and continue to be – a strong source of inspiration.

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‘Really – it was such a diversity of music growing up. All the musicians I grew up with had it in their blood. One day it was alternative you heard and the next – more popular – type music. There was always something different and it was always a lot of fun.”

Enjoying the process of recording her new album and what is turning out to be her hit song (Stompa) – was first and foremost in Serena’s thoughts. The Juno award winning singer wanted to relax and dive into a session where not too much thinking was going on. Something which happened somewhat accidentally for the 30 year old singer – songwriter.

‘Stompa’ started off as this easy guitar riff. It was just so simple and happy. It

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had a primal feel and that kind of worked and set the tone for the rest of the album.We added some hand claps which went wonderfully with the toned down (instrument-wise) feel. It puts a smile on my face and I hope it is infectious …”

‘Harmony’ is Ryder’s sixth studio album and so far – a listener is able to grasp many different genres from the singer who was once labeled a ‘teenage Aretha Franklin‘. That moniker due to Ryder’s immense vocal range. She is considered a mezzo-soprano, able to hit perfect pitches and sustain a controlled vibrato. A three octave singer and someone to make Canadians proud.

‘It has been quite the trip in the past few years.”Admits Serena” Now I have this celebrity – music styled life and it is quite a difference for me. I do not forget my roots and I am the same person I always was. This is evident in my new album. I owe everything to the wonderful people in Peterborough who taught me everything I know.”

Serena Ryder remains home -based; through and through…

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