Feature Story                                                                                                                Monday, June 9, 2014


Music the Way it's Meant to Be

Lauren Mann and her Fairly Odd Folk band make fans in Chilliwack

Staff/Voice photos


Lauren Mann sings at the Acoustic Emporium last Friday. Below, local solo act Ted Kim of Dear Father opened with a solid set.


hen Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk hit Chilliwack Friday, they weren't sure what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised to find the great space of the Acoustic Emporium set up, and fans waiting at the door. Opening for them was solo artist Ted Kim of Dear Father.

Mann and her band, were recently chosen top act across the country in CBC Radio's Canada-wide Searchlight contest which showcases up and coming artists. They beat out 4000 others to do it. Since winning, attention to the band is far and wide now. People want to see and hear what makes them that good.

Sometime between CDs, the Brooks, Alberta band hired a publicist who sent some of their material to CBC.


The band, which consists of Lauren Mann (Lead vocals, piano, ukulele), Jay Christman (drums, guitar), Jessica Christman (bass, additional keys, BGVs), Josh Akin (electric/acoustic guitar), Zoltan Szoges (additional keys, percussion, glockenspiel), and Hammer Clark (front of house tech) didn't disappoint. Mann's vocals were clear and sweet throughout her original material as she moved fluidly between a ukele and piano.

At one point during the show, Mann's husband Zoltan Szobes, who plays auxiliary percussion and keyboards, engaged in audience participation and tossed tambourines into the crowd. Then, he pulled out a big bass drum and passed sticks around.

Talking with the Voice before the show, Szobes said this particular road trip is short, but over the last year, the band has played in every major Canadian city and will be playing another 12 shows by August.

"We start our full Canadian tour on July 19th," he said.

After Chilliwack they played Kelowna.

Next up is a showcase slot at the CBC Music Festival at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby on Saturday June 14. Then on June 20th they play at "The Works" Arts and Music Festival in Edmonton. Then they get a week off before flying to Ottawa to play at the Canada Day celebrations. After that, they bounce back west to Calgary on July 3rd.

Luke Vandevert serves specialty coffee at the Emporium. Below, Zoltan Szobes plays the keyboards.


"We're playing the Stampede breakfast. Then we've got at a festival called Harvest Sun Winnipeg area, and than in Thunder Bay in front of about 4,000 people," says Szobes. "We've been really fortunate since winning the CBC Searchlight contest we've had a lot of these opportunities come in."

Szobes said the band went to Denmark in their first year of touring. It was a bit of a different there for them because they were doing some work in boarding schools and teaching students about Canada.

He says publicity from CBC has been wonderful. Winning this year's Searchlight came about after they re-released their latest CD under their own label called Wanderer Records.

"It's been pretty wild. With all the attention, it's bit overwhelming," he said. "Every single gig we have people coming out to the show who say they found us on CBC or through the contacts for the band there, and every show we've played it gets better. It's been really encouraging to see new people finding our music."

"We've written about 16 songs in the past year. We started writing in January 2013 and we're still working on new material," he explains. "We are going to be recording in March 2015, so we will be releasing a new record next year.

Szobes praises the Acoustic Emporium for what they're doing.

"Its a beautiful space and really nice guys. They've got top notch sound gear and lights. I think it's an amazing place to have in Chilliwack and a great opportunity for an emerging level of artists. It's cool to see what an area produces locally."

The band also likes to give back. Last year, they donated 10 per cent of merchandize sales to an organization called Charity Water, a non-profit that brings clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. www.charitywater.org 

"This year we haven't decided what we are doing, but we do make contributions to various charities. If we can show that as starving musicians, we can do it then to help impact the world in a positive way."

Show organizers Vern Tompke Luke Vandevert run the Acoustic Emporium. Tompke is the pastor at Vineyard Church which occupies the building.

Tompke says that bringing in big names like Mann, helps local musicians broaden their scope when they are paired up in shows.

"We're local people. People that worked hard to develop their craft. We also want to pair them up with people who've been doing it longer.

For instance, two weeks ago, the much lauded Ma Petite played at the Emporium.

Tompke let the audience know during a set break that they were closing the venue for the summer.

"But don't worry, we're coming back, we just don't want to compete with Party in the Park and want to support them any way we can."

The final show of the summer takes place June 27 and features a pair of local singer/songwriters Matt Loewen, Brennan Sinclair and The Quaint and The Curious

The Acoustic Emporium is located at The Vineyard Centre, 45892 Wellington Ave. For more information about the Acoustic Emporium venue, visit www.acousticemporium.com

Learn more about the Vineyard Church at www.chilliwackvineyard.com

See more photos below.

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