Posts by Ryan Donn

Concert Tonight: We Are The City

We Are The City - Back in Kelowna

We Are The City are a local success story. They return home to play an exclusive show tonight (Thursday) at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Lets start today’s columnn with my interview with Andy (drummer).

First off congrats on succeeding in carving out a career in the music industry. For those of us in Kelowna that were over the moon to see a Kelowna band win the PEAK Performance Project and the $150,000 top prize can you give us an update of what you’ve been up to since the win?
Thank you very much. Still working hard at “carving out a career” but what has happened thus far has been greatly rewarding, and I’d like to think purely based on the manner of work alone. I’m really trying hard to not base my gratification in numbers, like how many people come out to a show, or how many views a video on YouTube has, or how many people buy our record. I’d be fooling myself if I said that those things don’t factor at all into my happiness, but I’m working on it. You know, trying to realize that those temporary things don’t mean anything. I’m feeling very satisfied in the things that the band has created and been involved in creating, and I’d like to leave it at that.

Since the PEAK Performance Project we’ve toured across Canada three times, toured the United States twice, made an EP called “High School,” worked in conjunction with Amazing Factory Productions to make a music video series for High School, spent two years writing and recording our sophomore full length album called “Violent” that’s now released, and we’ve also been working on a film again with Amazing Factory, but this time it’s a full length narrative movie, and it was shot in Norway. So all of those things feel good.

Did I hear correctly that you were off in Norway shooting a feature length film? Details are greatly desired? Any snippets from You Tube I can share?
Haha you did hear correctly! Well, early last year we all decided that making a movie to go hand in hand with the album was the thing that we wanted to do. So we did it. Now, a year later, we have sent away the final edit for sound mixing. Not really sure what the plans for release are yet, but we’d like to have it run in some festivals first and maybe look towards distribution with a film house. It’s a little more departed from the album than we initially thought it would be, which is actually pretty exciting, because it stands well on its own and doesn’t require the album as a crutch. The film itself is a pretty wild idea, we actually shot in Bergen, Norway and the majority of the dialogue is in Norwegian, despite none of us understanding it. I like to think of it as a pretty absurd experiment that seems to have worked. We’ll have to wait and see what people think of it.

Discover the epically visual new video they just released with a glimpse of their upcoming feature film and a sampler of their sound.

Your band is now back to the original 3 members. I recall seeing your first EP for sale at a coffee shop in Glenmore for $2 in 2009. Its been an amazing journey for you guys since then. Do you have any advice for new bands from Kelowna looking to follow in your footsteps?
What a memory you have! That must’ve been at Perc’s right? To be very honest with you, I’m not entirely sure how we found ourselves here, but I’d like to humbly suggest a large amount of discipline, spending a lot of time in front of your instrument, pushing out all material — good and bad — and being kind to everyone. That last one’s the most important one, I think, but that’s a universally good thing to practice.

You have a show on Thursday at the Kelowna Community Theatre. I think the last time you played the venue was a triple header with Said the Whale, Aidan Knight and Kingdom Cloud. It was truly magical evening. How did you select the bands to play along side you for this show?
Thank you, that night is magical in my mind too. We are very fortunate that people with such talent don’t mind being friends with us. I have so much respect for those bands. Same goes with the bands playing with us on Thursday. Hannah Epperson came with us on our entire Canadian tour and I had the pleasure of watching her blow away every audience. The Belle Game are a really cool band from Vancouver that have an excellent album out called Ritual Tradition Habit. Nuuka are good friends of ours, and I’ve actually never seen them live. I’ve heard their music and heard a lot of good things about their show so maybe having them on the bill was a selfish choice. I just want to see them play! It’s going to be very special.

Ticket are available at the door or online here on A-OK. The show is at the Kelowna Community Theatre tonight (June 27th) for $18.

I must also mention that we have another stellar show coming to Kelowna this Saturday at the Habitat:

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald

I would also highly recommend checking out the show with Michael Bernard Fitzgerald at the Habitat this Saturday night. Here’s the Facebook event link.

I’m absolutely loving his new EP “Firecracker.” It’s been my playlist on the way to work for the past month.

Okanagan Summer Festival Report

Here in the A-OK we love summer festival season and it’s just getting started! Line ups are being announced, tickets are on sale, and with all that commotion it felt like a great time to let you know about some of our highlight festivals and events that happen in the Okanagan. This list isn’t comprehensive but if your looking for an event worth going to here’s a starter list for you.

Not only that, but there’s a bit of a Giveaway at the end of this article for some lucky winner!

Parks Alive, Music in the Park, Lake Country Open Air Performances, etc:

July and August, Parks throughout the Okanagan! For any of those new to our region you really need to know about our free live music concerts in our various communities. Almost every community in the Okanagan hosts free community concerts in one of our parks.

Every evening throughout the summer there is a free concert somewhere. So get out there and discover some great live local entertainment. Call your local Parks and Recreation office for more information on free concerts in your community.

Funtastic: June 28th-30th, Vernon

Billed as “Canada’s Greatest Slo-Pitch Tournament & Music Festival” this is Vernon’s signature Festival. Headliners this year include: Honeymoon Suite, Sweet, and Aaron Pritchett.

More information after the jump.

Celebrate Canada Day Kelowna 2013: July 1st, Waterfront Park/Jim Stuart Park/Kerry Park, Kelowna

Join over 50,000 attendees celebrating Canada’s Birthday. Over 50+ activities and performances that are multi-generational and family- friendly.

The Hot and Dry Canadian Summer: July 4-6th, Kelowna

We’d be remiss not to post one of our own festivals on here. We’re working with BC brewery Cariboo Brewing the first weekend of July to celebrate our love of local music, too-hot days and festival-ready style. Featuring 10 local, up-and-coming musicians over 3 days we are chomping at the bite to get this party started!

Tickets available with bands or you can get a $30 weekend pass online.
More information here.

Keloha: July 5-7th: Waterfront Park, Kelowna

I recently interviewed the producer of this event. The full story can be read here.

Continue Reading…

Top 10 Talented Kids

A few weeks ago Creative Okanagan held auditions at the Laurel Packing House with the goal of finding our 2013 Top 10 Talented Kids. I know its cliché but all of us including the three judges (Robert Fine, Noel Wentworth, and Renata Mills) were blown away by the talent. The top 10 will now be seen at various festivals and events throughout the Okanagan this summer.

Wentworth Music was gracious enough to also offer some free lessons to those lucky top ten. For more information on Talented Kids go to

So without further ado I present the 2013’s Top #10 Talented Kids. If your interested in booking some talented kids for your event drop us a line at

Taylor Hickson

Katia Wells-Green


Ciara Myers

Triple Threat

Jesse Mast

Austin & Charlie

Georgia Kemp

Ben Klick

Said the Whale Interview


Said the Whale arrive in Kelowna Wednesday, April 3rd as they open for Canadian indie pop royalty STARS. Tickets are available online.

Random Tip: Did you know they have an app that was developed right here in Kelowna? Here is an interview I did with Tyler Bancroft from Said the Whale.

You’re coming off a huge couple of years with the Juno Award for New Group of the Year in 2011, your own documentary, Winning America, the Rockstar Weekly nod in the “Top 12 RockStarts to Watch in 2012” list, and the release of Little Mountain. As we hit the spring of 2013, where are you looking go? Any particular resolutions or goals for this year?
In short, we’re working on a new record, so definitely hoping to put that out this year. We’re about half way done recording. I can’t tell you a lot about it at this point as it hasn’t been decided but after this tour, we’ll head back into studio and hopefully get it done.

You’re playing with Stars at the Kelowna Community Theatre for this concert and must naturally see a synergy between your music and theres. How do you relate to this band and how do you pick the bands you tour with?
We have a choice? We really wanted to get on the tour and we were lucky enough to get it. We’re fans of Stars. We played with them a couple of years ago and Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell watched our entire set that first time. We kept in touch loosely, saw them at parties and stuff like that, and here we are playing with them. So, we’re very honoured.

If you could pick any festival in the world to play what would it be?

You’ve had a number of band members come and go since you started in 2007. How has that helped or hindered the band?
The way I want to answer that question isn’t very nice to the people who have left the band, but I can say every personnel change we’ve had has been an improvement. With that in mind, they’ve also all helped (the band).

When you start a band and your tours really suck, and it’s even more of a struggle than it is now, it’s really easy for someone to figure out if they want to be in a touring band and, in all of those cases, it just wasn’t something those people were into doing…

It’s really easy for you to figure out if you really love it when you’re touring around in a van with ten people or if it’s something you just don’t want to do. Touring is an arduous task; it requires a lot of energy. There’s no hard feelings. They moved on and did what was right for them.

Is there a place the band really likes to go to drum up new songs?
Not normally, but it’s funny you say that because we just did a writing trip to Banff, three of us. It was amazing and it was so productive, and I’m hoping that we can do it again really soon.

You’re well on your way to making it into the big leagues. One day, when Coldplay is opening for you and Madonna is waiting backstage for an autograph, what will you demand in the rider as dressing room nosh?
Hmmm. What do we need? Every time we get our rider fulfilled I’m just so grateful that we have a rider, so to think of what’s missing from that… I wish I was more creative. Maybe an old school Nintendo with some Duck Hunt.

What other artists are on the top of your playlists at the moment?
Digging Chvrches right now; Braids from Montreal; and We are the City from Kelowna. Their new album is finished. I do have a copy of it and it is going to blow people out of the water.

Part of what’s made your career what it is today is your PEAK Performance Project showing. Would it have changed the trajectory of the band if Said the Whale had finished on top instead of second place to Kyprios?
I think we would have had an extra $25,0000 to play with and it might have made things a little less stressful for a few months, but otherwise no.

Anything you want to say to the fans in Kelowna who are coming out to hear you play?
We love Kelowna so much and can’t wait to play there.

OUR Coffeehouse

Last month I checked out a great new monthly event in Kelowna called OUR Coffeehouse (OUR – Organic, Unplugged, Roots/Raw). It’s held at Reid Hall (Benvoulin Church, 2279 Benvoulin Rd. in Kelowna) and doors open at 6:45, performances start around 7:15.

It’s hosted by local songwriter/mentor Jane Eamon. I’m not sure if you recall Jane Eamon but she was one of the songwriters that came together to write the Centennial song for Kelowna. She has always had a heart for supporting upcoming artists and songwriters of our community so it’s a perfect fit to have her host the night.

Arriving at Benvoulin Church it reminded me more of a house concert than any other type of concert event. There were new performers hitting the stage for the very first time, pros simply showing up to share their passion and skill, and nicely rounded out by a feature of one of our local headline acts (that week is was Cowboy Bob). The evening is truly a sampling of some of the Okanagan’s best talent.

If you’re interested in performing at the event simply sign up to take a 10 minute spot during their open mic component.

Here is the Creative Director for the newly established Association of Artists for Creative Alliance non-profit society, Andrew Smith talking about the event and the society.

The video ends with a song by a local classical guitar player, Alan Reinhart.

It was a great night of creativity and a showcase of some amazing local talent. So if you’re free next Wednesday swing by for a cozy concert at the Benvoulin Church. You can also check out their blog at

I also recently picked up a new camera and this was the first event I’ve used it at. It’s a Lytro camera and it allows you to focus after the fact. Experiment with it. Simply click on different parts of the picture to have them come into focus.

BC Celebrates Family Day

It’s BC’s first Family Day stat holiday. What are you doing with your family? I’ve found three major events happening in the Kelowna area for Family Day.

familyday11) BC Family Day (by Creative Okanagan, Province of BC, and the City of Kelowna)
Parkinson Rec: Family Day, Feb 11th, 10-3pm. All activities are FREE.

BC Fun

  • Free swimming (in partnership with the City of Kelowna)
  • Face painting (by KBAAD)
  • Instrument petting zoo (hosted by Wentworth Music)
  • Circus Yoga (hosted by Success by Six)

BC Culture

  • Arts and Crafts station
  • Story telling area

BC Discovery

  • Gold Panning Station
  • Science World Exhibit

familyday32) Family Day Skate for Hospice (by Prospera Place and Delta Grand hotels)
In support of the Central Okanagan Hospice Association. Prospera Place, $5 donation for entry. Admission either at the door on the day of the event or pre-purchase a ticket from the Front Desk of the Delta Grand.

Bring the family and skate with Rocky Raccoon for this amazing cause! Complimentary Hot Chocolate and Cookies. Center ice goal scoring competition for prizes.



familyday23) First Annual Kelowna YMCA Family Day
YMCA, February 11 9:00am-5:00pm

Fun family activities all day long. Come and celebrate BC’s first Family Day and the launch our annual Strong Kids Campaign. All activities and admission are by donation.

  • Family Fitness classes
  • Drums Alive
  • Face painting
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Family games
  • Pool games
  • Giant inflatable toys
  • Hot dogs and lemonade (by donation)
  • Bake Sale

All proceeds from the hot dogs and bake sale go to the Strong Kids Campaign. Please consider making a donation to the Strong Kids Campaign as Melcor will be matching every donation made.

The Vernon Winter Carnival

Hot Air Balloons

The Vernon Winter Carnival returns Feb 1st -10th. Its pretty incredible that they have over 100 events throughout Vernon. Many of the events are free or very affordable.

Photo credit: Wayne Emde Photography

Brittany Sjoblom, Executive Director, Vernon Winter Carnival has done a quick video summarizing the event. Here she is to tell you all about this years Vernon Winter Carnival.

Highlight events include: (full events list can be found

Hot Air Balloons

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta and Glow which happen Friday and Saturday morning at 9am (Feb 1st and 2nd)
For over two decades the giant balloons have announced the opening weekend of the annual Vernon Winter Carnival, from the Friday evening Balloon Glow, through Sunday morning Flag Grab. The balloons will fly Friday February 1st – Sunday February 3rd at different times throughout the day, weather dependent.

Snow Sculptures

BC Championship Snow Sculpture Competition
The Snow Sculpture Competition is taking place at Silver Star Mountain the first weekend of Carnival. This year’s theme should provide a great starting point for some amazing sculptures. The community can view the progress of these magnificent works of art beginning at 10:00am Fri. Feb.1 until 10:00am Sun. Feb. 3. The awards presentation will be Sun. Feb. 3 at 11:00am. Come up Sunday morning to help us determine the “People’s Choice Award” and take in all the great activities Silver Star Mountain Resort has to offer. The finished sculptures are up for viewing for a week or two after the competition.

Cod Gone Wild

Irish Pub Night with Cod Gone Wild
Join Vernon’s own favorite Celtic band “Cod Gone Wild” for a night of rowdy and energetic Irish tunes that will have you jigging the night away. Get your tickets early and don’t miss this favorite carnival event voted “Best Adult Event” in 2012. Dress in green and participate in Newfoundland “Ugly Stick” competition. Sociable!
Doors open at 8pm. Must be 19+ to attend.

The Pre-historic Cave Dudes
“Post Prehistoric Cave Dudes” is a romantic – mostly – comedy which takes place in a cave… with window shutters to let in some light. The characters language seems modern enough, but their attire and attitudes are definitely prehistoric, until they discover music, mostly funk and jazz. Some characters even know the lyrics to songs they’ve never heard (well, except inside their heads). Amongst comedy, romance and trouble with a rival “tribe”, they still eventually manage to discover the source of the mystery they have labelled music.

And new this year they have also added a Winter Carnival Family day in Polson Park Saturday the 9th from 11-3pm.

For the full event details and information go to their site:

Steph Macpherson: The Ryan Donn Review

This Saturday night I am hosting my second Ryan Donn Review show. The hope is to draw attention to some of our BC rising stars as they come through Kelowna. For December’s show I am hosting Steph Macpherson. She is currently on tour promoting her latest album “Bells and Whistles.” Her show is at the Pheasant and Quail, 8-10pm, this Saturday night. No cover.

I caught up with her earlier this week on Facebook and did a short interview about her tour and new album.

So how is the tour of BC going?
It’s going really well. There has been good attendance, and we’ve had a lot of fun so far!

Whats the worst part about touring in BC?
I’d have to say that the worst part about touring in BC, specifically in the winter, is the weather. We have some awfully sketchy road conditions to deal with at times.

Whats the best part about touring in BC?
The people! They’re amazing. Everyone really tries to make you feel at home, and they seem to be very open to new music and new experiences.

Also, despite the aforementioned road conditions, it’s so friggin gorgeous! We’re extremely lucky to live in such a magical landscape.

Earlier this spring you released your album: “Bells and Whistles”. With some artists focusing on releasing singles and YouTube videos do you prefer sharing your music as an album?
I think it’s important to do both. I’ve been mostly focusing on the Album so far, but we’ve got some video stuff in the works for the very near future.

The industry’s pretty divided when it comes to opinions on album sales vs singles. Singles sell the album, in most cases, but if the album isn’t consistent in quality with the singles, then you’re in trouble.
We still have Soundscan, and it’s still how people “chart”, and charting still matters to a LOT of the industry and the public whether we’d like to admit it or not.

You were a part of the PEAK Performance Project in 2011. How did being a part of that experience effect your career?
Hugely. It’s amazing promotion/publicity, for one. It also introduced me to many key players in the Canadian industry, and gave me incredible insights into how to approach the coming challenges.

The week-long Boot Camp portion of the Project was invaluable. It taught me about all aspects of the music industry… although much of it has changed already! Work work work, study study study, work work work! Such is life. :)

Any recent musical adventures you want to share with our readers? collaborations, experiments, duets? Do you do your own graphics on the site (pencil drawings)?
I don’t do my own graphics, although I do sketch from time to time. Perhaps I’ll share some of those on Instagram soon…

I’ve been singing on a few friends’ projects, and plan to continue to do so whenever possible. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing talents here in my hometown of Victoria, including Mike Edel, Vince Vaccaro, and Lindsay Bryan. Most recently, a friend of mine who goes by the moniker “The Raven” did a down-tempo eletro-pop version of Mumford & Son’s “I Will Wait,” and had a bunch of us Victoria kids come in and sing/play on it. That was fun!

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