making the scene

the very best moments we experienced at live music shows this year

sell my clothes, I'm going to heaven

we made our way out to over 200 shows this year, and some of what we heard left us speachless, totally stunned by the level of musicianship and artistry unfolding in front of our very eyes.

by Miles Overn

Kinga Heminga | Photo copyright (c) 2021 Miles Overn Photography

totally subjective

but based on seeing a lot of shows

At the time of writing this article, we had made our way out to just under 220 live performances by musicians in Kelowna, West Kelowna, and Lake Country this year alone. Along the way we have witnessed an incredibly high level of musicianship and performance at the majority of the shows that we were fortunate enough to take in.

what qualified a show to be so recognized

For each of the shows that we have selected, there was a "something other" about it where we were simply unable to deny that there was something very different, quite unusual about what was going on. Whatever that thing was, in each case it made that moment unforgettable, and some of those moments involved a much greater passage of time than the word "moment" usually applies to. Magical stuff indeed.

the order of events

As we don't believe it's even possible, let alone useful, to try to decide who is or was "the best", we humbly list these performances in the chronological order in which they occured.

were there any honourable mentions

There were a couple. Those local artists will be mentioned in other upcoming articles, but the two that we struggled with deciding whether to include in this piece were Dana Kowalsky at The Vibrant Vine and Andrew Judah at Red Bird Brewing

Other Articles in this Series

Top 5 Busiest Artists
Which artists played the most public gigs in 2021

Top 5 Busiest Venues
A list and brief discussion of the businest venues in Kelowna this year.

Top 5 Busiest Genres
Which styles of music got booked the most in 2021

guitarist sean bray

Jazz Jam at the RCA

While the level of musicianship is always high at the weekly jazz jam at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, due in part to local jazz musicians Craig Thomson and Stephen Buck hosting, on this particular summer evening in the atrium, Sean Bray tapped into some other level feel and emotion that seemed to emerge from the center of each note of each phrase he was playing and turned those lines into liquid musical embraces that entered my ears but ultimately wrapped themselves around my heart and completely mesmerized me. Bray is a great guitarist in a city filled with many very, very good ones. He plays regularly with many of the best bands and musicians. Still, this was a special moment, one in which his humanity and his sharing of his gifting far outstripped his musical virtuosity.

See Sean's Active Profile

Major shout-out to the Rotary Centre for the Arts for their ongoing hosting of the jazz jam. It has been going on for many years now, and it brings together the city's best pros and semi-pros as well as local high school band members and other amateurs. More about the Jazz Jam sessions and the greater jazz scene can be found in our Kelowna Jazz Scene section.

singer/guitarist nevaeh dyson

Afternoon Show at The Vibrant Vine

A huge part of the fun we had shooting shows this year was trying to take in performances by artists that we had never heard of before. Nevaeh Dyson was one such local singer and guitarist. In fact, it was at this show where I first silently uttered the phrase "sell my clothes, I'm going to heaven", which would became the title of this piece. Just trying to capture something of the joy that she was clearly feeling as she wove her way through her set had my camera to my face almost constantly as I waited to record even a single moment of her essence, which she so freely radiated during the act of living out her artistry and her calling.

It is hard to believe that the performance we shot was only her second time doing her thing on stage. She had started the year busking downtown, and in the months following has quickly become one of the 15 busiest musicians this year in Kelowna. Still hard to believe she is only 16, and harder still to even try to imagine how good she will be in a couple years from now.

See Nevaeh's Active Profile

Another shout-out, this one to The Vibrant Vine for their hosting 2 events that ended up on this list, and a staggering 122 over the year. Outstanding.

singer kinga heming

Evening Show at The Vibrant Vine

Kinga Heming is a remarkable singer; the kind that one refers to as a vocalist. Full, rich tone. Impeccable pitch. Unique phrasing that never strays too far from the expected, but still sets her apart and makes her instantly recognizable. As we have heard her on other occasions, this particular performance showed all of the international quality voice that she possesses. Clearly, she was indeed fully present. I remember as I crossed in front of the stage the moment when it hit me. There it was. In all its glory. I could almost feel my jaw slacken in near disbelief as my brain caught up with my ears.

There are many reasons that her last CD, Forever In My Heart, made it in to the first round of Grammy Award consideration. When she is in the moment, when she brings all that she is to the performance, all one can really do is just stop, and take it all in.

See Kinga's Active Profile

cover band Cover2Cover

Evening Show at Forbidden Spirits

We had arrived a minute or so late to the gig, and as soon as I opened my car door in the parking lot I knew this was one of those moments. There is truly nothing like hearing 4 part harmony executed well. Hearing that level of vocals on a tune like "Seven Bridges Road" is definitely a near out-of-body experience.

While I had never heard this band before, nor have I heard them since, I was aware of the reputations of the musicians who make up the group. Still, I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of those harmony vocals. It called to mind that scene in The Shawshank Redemption when inmate Andy Dufresne locks himself in the warden's office and plays an operatic aria over the speakers to the entire prison.

See Cover2Cover's Active Profile

Also, a shout-out to Forbidden Spirits for also being one of the busiest venues in Kelowna this year.

Artists We Photographed in 2021

Aaron Loewen | Alfie Zappacosta | Andrew Allen | Andrew Johns | Andrew Judah | Anna Jacyszyn and Loni Moger | Anna Katarina | Apollo Agua | Ari Neufeld | Ballet Kelowna | Barbara Samuel Duo | Barry Wilson | Ben Klick | Bex | Black Cat Soul | Bo Higgs | Bran Sanders | Brent Tyler | Brittany Graling | Bruce Spencer | Chloe Davidson | Clanna Morna | Cod Gone Wild | Corey Primus | Cover2Cover | Curtis Avery | Dale Disimone | Dan Tait | Dana Kowalsky | Dear Rouge | Diana Rose | Dirt Road Opera | Double Sharp | Elisha G | Ellie Fier | Floyed Meets Brwon | Focale | Garcia Band | Garrett Scattergy | Glory Days | Gorden James | Hailey Lewis | Hunter Brothers | Irwin & Higgs | Jackfish Narrows | James Hay | Jeff Piattelli | Jeremy Messenger | Jessica Le | Jimmy Balfour | Jodie B | Joe Lejoie | John Paul Byrne | Johnny Bootleg | Josh + Bex | Just Friends | Kailee McGuire | Kentucky Eileen | Kinga Heming | L & JZ | Leila Neverland | Mark Irving | Melissa Livingstone | Michael John | Michelle & Kent | Mitch Howanyk | Moirs Hill | Moontricks | Nevaeh Dyson | NFA - The Rock Dance Band | Nico Boesten | Niki Martinus | Nomads | Norm Strauss | OKM Senior Jazz Combo | Pat Ryan | Poppa Dawg | Post-Modern Connection | Proper Man | R Sherman | Rachel Raditz | Rob McLaren | Rollin' Coal Trio | Rumour Mill | Rusty Someone | Sad Tom and the Noodles | Sally Wallick | Sam Balson | Scotty Berg | Seventy Times Seven | Shalisa Liesch | Shari Ulrich | Shawnee Kish | Sista B | Smitten | Sonder | Songs of the Southern Belles | Stephen Kubassek | Stringers | Sycamore String Quartet | Tega Ovie | Teigen Gayse | The Canadian Jazztex | The Heels | The Legendary Lake Monsters | The Meliponas | The Royal Foundry | The Scalawag | The Tree Huggers | The Raz | The Steadies | Torrey Woody | Willy Marcotte Band | Wood Wire & Fire | Yukon Blonde | Zoe Marie Welch

- and countless others -

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