...the dream starts here
The Ojibwa believe a dreamcatcher changes a person's dreams. Bad dreams are caught in the net, disappearing with the light of day. Good dreams pass through and slide down the feathers to the sleeper peacefully taking in dreams. Valerie and the Dreamcatchers know how to do that, filter only the best aspects of the rock’n’roll dream into something familiar and uplifting.
Together just a couple of years, the band is fronted by by big-voiced Valerie Shearman, who also penned most of the tunes here. Guitarist Mike ‘The Wizard’ Richmond, bassist Shane ‘Animal’ Wiseman and drummer Keith Ogborne fill out the line-up.
Between them, there’s better than 20years of playing classic music, off the barroom floor rock’n’roll. Valerie honed her chops alongside the legendary Buzz Shearman of Moxy fame, Richmond has appeared in a slew of groups, from theatrical pit bands to classic hair metal and beyond. One such, a group called So Far So Good” was the meeting ground for Richmond and bassist Wiseman. The pair worked so well together that Mike called on his old bud to hold down the back line in Valerie & The Dreamcatchers. As well as being a stellar guitarist, Richmond seems to know every hot player in town, so it’s no surprise he has history with Dreamcatchers' drummer Ogborne, the pair having kicked it together in prog rock outfit Larkspur. Binding these seasoned individuals together into a like-mended unit is the shared knowledge that originality isn’t necessarily the most important element in the music of this genre. The familiar and nostalgic, the ‘sounds like’element rates more in terms of audience enjoyment. You’ll hear echoes of Heart, Poison, Black Sabbath,Van Halen, Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac, Moxy and many other reference points dear to head-banging hearts the world over. You’ll also hear in the original material where all those compass points take these versatile musicians.
While Spirited Lady isn’t a concept album, the narrative running through the original songs has parallels with Valerie’s own story. It’s the tale of a shared rock’n’roll dream shattered by death and put back together again with love and a powerful spirit. The story’s told with a mix of classic covers(Bread’s Guitar Man, The Beat Goes On from Sonny & Cher and the Rik Emmett penned “Saved By Love, and familiar-sounding originals that sound like great classic rock tunes you’ve never heard before.
Each song is given the fullest attention and the time and space to make its individual statement. Broken sails in on a gorgeous acoustic riff and builds to the kind of emotional crescendo worthy of lyrics like ‘Doesn’t anybody hear me/screaming inside’, ornamented by sparkling riffs throughout the song.
Feels Like Home lives up to its title, a mid-tempo ballad powered by a warm and inviting vocal line from Shearman.To keep it interesting, they flip the script with
I Need You, which titles like a weeper but is in fact a blazing, pedal to the metal rant, Shearman wailing like an alley cat in the heat of the Hunger.
Brokenhearted is a centerpiece track, a powerful summation of all that the band does best, informed by a killer vocal equal parts vulnerability and defiance and the title track benefits from the artful flute contributions of Cary Clouser.
The remainder of the album’s 11 tracks maintain the high standards established early on and brilliantly walk the tightrope between full on intensity and over playing. Throughout the album, the band maintains a high level of dynamics and commitment to intensity worthy of a gang of 20 year olds.
Valerie & The Dreamcatchers have been road testing the material with selected gigs around Toronto, and crowd response in venues as different as The Rockpile and The Gladstone have been uniformly outta control positive!!. Such proven audience appeal across a wide demographic is very good news for the future of the band. Valerie and the Dreamcatchers debut album “Spirited Lady” will be released JUNE 15th 2013. The band continues to play select gigs in the Toronto area. A national tour in support of “Spirited Lady” is in the works with dates TBA.