The Grand Bend Canada Day Celebrations Committee is lucky to have local musician Brian Dale as its music and stage director (Brian is a popular local singer, songwriter and musician).
The goal of the Committee is to showcase Canadian and local talent for a full afternoon of entertainment leading up to a headliner act to get us all up and dancing and ready for fireworks.
All musical entertainment is held at the new stage positioned at Grand Bend’s Main Beach.
2017 Musical Entertainment
7pm – Ashen Blue
In Kitchener-Waterloo, a Canadian hub of musical talent, there is a fresh new four piece quickly earning the accolades of veteran musicians and fans alike. AshenBlue pulls deep on blues and classic rock roots to create a rock sound with the kind of passion that memories are made of. Their dedication, energy and passion for music is contagious and inspired.
Witness the transformation of four teens who become their true selves every time they take the stage, and you will join the ranks of dedicated AshenBlue fans. Vocalist Avalon Bridger, while just 13 and known as an old soul, puts her heart into every note as if she were born on a stage. Guitarist Jake Shepherd makes a lasting impression with his soulful bends and epic solos. Bassist Braydon Kains fat bass lines and vocals are the backbone of the band. And drummer, Quinlan Missikowski adds just the right beat to round out their sound. They have a deep respect for the many amazing musicians who continue to teach them, often inviting them to be part of their audience and to share the stage.
Their name a nod to the “Ashen Lady” in Morrison’s classic Roadhouse Blues, AshenBlue is honoured to be selected as Canadian representatives in the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Band members have also been fortunate to play Kitchener Blues Fest, Summers End Fest, Big Music Fest, Kitchener City Hall NYE, Rock & Rumble, as well as several local clubs and bars. All of this a clear indication that this group isn’t just good for their ages, they are simply good.
Be sure to catch one of their regular shows, and watch for AshenBlue’s first recording of originals & favourites in 2017.
Meet the Band
JAKE SHEPHERD – GUITAR
Growing up, Classic Rock was often playing in the house or in the car. Even on his own, it quickly became Jake’s music of choice. By grade 8, you would always hear epic bands like The Who, Boston, and Rolling Stones coming from his room. And soon after that, intrigued by the idea of creating so many different sounds and types of music with an electric guitar, Jake started lessons at a local community centre with Steve Rose.
When he just couldn’t put the guitar down, even during meals, it became clear that he needed more. Lessons continued with School of Rock, where Jake met some of his AshenBlue bandmates. “It was my first experience doing live shows, and it was great, but I kept coming back to the roots of rock with a blues influence. Artists like Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Big Sugar, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Joe Bonamassa, to name a few.”
On top of homework and the young Canadian experience of working at Tim Horton’s, Jake spends the majority of his time practicing the lightning fast solos he’s becoming known for in the local music scene. He studies now with Robert Reid, an excellent mentor who is a well known and loved sideman. When asked about his favourite parts of being in AshenBlue he stops briefly to think. “There have been so many, I would say playing our first big gig at Blues Fest, and our fundraiser at the Church when everyone came and I got to play with Shawn Kellerman. And getting to go out to watch (and sometimes play with) a lot of amazing local musicians that I didn’t even know existed a year ago.”
Music is his passion, but for 8 years, he also played competitive soccer. When he had to make a choice between the two, he chose music. “Now I hope that music chooses me, but if a career in music is not in my future, I hope my upcoming university education in Computer Science or Engineering will take me places.”
QUINLAN MISSIKOWSKI – DRUMS
A natural born fidgeter, it wasn’t much of a stretch for Quinlan to find drumming as his calling. Encouraged at an early age by how easily primary school teachers are annoyed with constantly tapping out whatever came to mind with pencils, fingers and sneakers… things he’d later find out had cool names like paradiddles and flamadoodles.
Quinlan spent the first 12 years of his life in Hong Kong, where he started learning drums at the age of 8. In Hong Kong, his favourite activities included judo, swimming, and eating sushi. Fast forward half a lifetime, and catching up with him now could mean eating trail dust in a high school cross-country running race, getting thrown flat on your back at a judo tournament, taking your mark at a 100m butterfly, dodging rapid fire annihilation in game of Counter-Strike, or hanging out with his AshenBlue bandmates at a marathon practice session.
His first live performance that didn’t get him into trouble with his teachers was playing Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams at a primary school assembly. When he moved to Canada Quinlan met several new rock minded friends, including his AshenBlue bandmates, at The School of Rock. He’s also had the opportunity to learn at Blues Camp and now from his new mentor and teacher, the award winning Jimmy Boudreau.
Quinlan loves the off beat, both in drumming and in his musical taste that includes alt rock like Cake, classic Canadian like Rush, Blues icons like Muddy and Sonny Boy, and Jazz legends like Buddy Rich.
BRAYDON KAINS – BASS
Once upon a time there was a local guy who was well known to play a mean guitar. What many of us never knew is that he is also a killer bass player.
We’ve been in rehearsals for a month, and we are ready to share. Braydon is already up to speed on all of our fan favourite songs. Braydon’s first weekend as part of the band will be a busy one. We will be at the Churchill Arms April 22nd, and on April 23rd we will be competing in the Youth Blues Showcase followed by an afternoon playing at The Food and Drink Festival. Can’t wait to see everyone!
And don’t worry, there is a proper bio coming soon. In the meantime, Coral Andrews listed him here in The Record under musicians to watch in 2017 http://m.therecord.com/…/7043012-looking-back-at-2016-plus-… (yes, we are lucky to be listed there too, who knew we’d be doing it together!)
…and wrote this great feature “Happy with the Blues”
AVALON BRIDGER – VOCALS
At only thirteen, Avalon is most often described as an old soul. The energy and passion of her on stage performances have been likened to her many musical idols, both locally and globally known. When you
meet Avalon, her gentle smile lets you know her greatest secret. Anyone who has seen her naturally compelling performances, and how she clearly becomes her true self on stage, is always surprised to learn that she is quite shy. Just like any thirteen year old girl, when she’s not performing or practicing, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, as well as skiing competitively, sailing, swimming or simply curling up with her dog on the couch and reading a great book.
People may wonder how a young girl seems to put so much soul into the music she performs and writes. The truth is that while the years have not been many, a few major life experiences, and a natural empathy have taught her a lot about the human experience. “For me music is a way to connect with people, to say to them that other people have felt the way they feel, that they aren’t alone. For me it’s better to sing this than to say it.”.
It is rare for someone so young to have already found their passion, and Avalon plans to do whatever she can to achieve her dreams. “I call it the bonus 5-years, it’s the time when I can focus on making music a career. It’s a hard career to choose, but I think it’s worth it.”. It helps that her introduction to music has been so incredible, and her mentors and the KW community so supportive. She has had many starting with Piano at Maxwell’s and with Scott Galloway. Continuing with performance camps, programs and houseband at School of Rock. As well as mentorship at Blues Camp from many local musicians, especially Alana Leonard and Cheryl Lescom. She has also recently started vocal lessons and is learning to play bass.
All of this to continue working and growing as a musician, and to spend more time doing what she loves. Avalon particularly loves the experiences she has as part of AshenBlue. “It is so good to work with people who love music the way I love music, and who want to work hard to create it and make it right. And we have a lot of fun too. It’s like a family.”
8pm – Gables Jam Band
A group of not-quite-over-the-hill, accomplished amateur and semi-amateur local residents and musicians have played together on regular jam nights enough over the last few years to be known locally as the Gables Jam Band.
Much loved and enjoyed, they bring their talents to the stage for Canada’s 150th Birthday.