The prairie sky, expansive and wide, covers a great deal of North American real estate. And of all the emotions contained therein, it’s the prairie blues, a rural feeling that sings louder than all others on Dione Taylor’s new EP Born Free.
Music has always been an important and integral part of Dione Taylor’s life. A pastor’s daughter from Saskatchewan, she was born and raised in a family she describes as “really connected to the gift of song. My whole family sings and plays instruments in church,” praises Ms. Taylor, who began playing the organ at age four and by ten was the music director and organist at The Shiloh Assembly Apostolic Church in Regina.
Born Free is a powerful, soulful and spiritual album, taking an honest look at some difficult but necessary conversations. It’s an album that “is dedicated to Pastor’s Kids who deal with the very high standards and expectations placed upon their shoulders by their families and community to live perfectly within an imperfect world,” explains Taylor. Coming full circle, Dione finds herself reconnecting with her childhood. “The sounds and music of my youth are all present on Born Free. From the gospel music and blues at church to the southern country gospel at home on the record player, it’s all in there!”
Born Free was chosen as one of the Top Ten/Best Albums of 2016 by Folk Roots Radio and CFUV’s Blues in the Morning. The album has been praised by reviewers as “combining the musical elements of earthy blues & roots with soulful gospel.
Having first burst onto the music scene with her Juno nominated debut album “Open Your Eyes”, Taylor’s career trajectory has been truly remarkable. With performances across the United States, Canada and Asia for audiences that have included the President of the United States and Queen Elizabeth II, Taylor has made a worthy name for herself as one of Canada’s most talented musicians and singers. Dione was nominated for a Gemini Award for her rendition of Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to Freedom,” which she performed alongside Oliver Jones at the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala. She is also the recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award Mentorship Program.
In the summer of 2016, Dione and her band, The Backsliderz performed at festivals and concerts across Canada to enthusiastic audiences. Dione was selected to showcase at The Folk Music Ontario conference, The Ontario CONTACT conference, The Women’s Blues Revue at Massey Hall and The Blues Summit Eight. She has also been chosen to perform at an Official Showcase at The Folk Alliance International this February in Kansas City.
Unquestionably, Doug and the Slugs are one of the most distinctive and entertaining Canadian bands of the last 30 years. Their upbeat musical style, musicianship and offbeat stage antics have made them a staple of the Canadian music scene for decades. Formed in Vancouver in the fall of 1977, the band originally consisted of Doug Bennett, John Burton (guitar), Drew Neville (keyboards), Dennis Henderson (bass) and Lawrence McGillveray (drums).
They began by promoting their own shows and soon developed an avid underground following with their infamous ‘theme nights’, where the audience was invited to show up in costume, as secret agents or Carmen Miranda/Ricky Ricardos and watch the band do the same. After a year, their notoriety was great enough that local clubs started to take a chance on them.
In the fall of 1978 there were significant personnel changes within the band. Doug and John remained – they were joined by Simon Kendall, Richard Baker, Steve Bosley and John ‘Wally Watson’. Within a few months the Slugs were the hottest attraction in the Vancouver area. They were playing Monday through Saturday at the most popular live music venues in the city that were lined up every night.
This phenomenon did not go unnoticed by Sam Feldman; in the fall of 1979 Doug and the Slugs and Feldman signed a management deal. Local music impresario Peter McCullough offered to finance the single ‘Too Bad’. The song was released in November 1979 and became an overnight national hit, reaching #1 in many major markets across the country. On the strength of the single, it did not take Feldman long to secure a record deal with RCA and the Slugs’ first album, ‘Cognac and Bologna’, was released in the fall of 1980. The album had other significant radio hits in ‘Chinatown Calculation’ and ‘Drifting Away’.
Tragically, on October 16, 2004, Canada lost one of its greatest entertainers and songwriters when Doug Bennett passed away in a Calgary hospital.
Indeed, the Slugs wondered if they could ever continue without Doug. For several years they did not even consider the idea, until Bernie Aubin suggested they call Ted Okos, a journeyman rocker for many years with the band ‘Nick Danger’. Ted and the original slugs, John Burton, Simon Kendall, Steve Bosley, Wally Watson and Richard Baker, hit it off immediately. Ted’s high energy delivery and warm, but slightly irreverent stage antics, and his keen understanding of the essence of the songs, made him the obvious choice for a rebirth of ‘Doug and the Slugs.’
Now they are back! Don’t miss your chance to see The Slugs relieve their glory!