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article imageShe Could Be Trouble could be winning musical combination Special

By Mark J. Allan     May 17, 2016 in Music
An all-female singer/songwriter trio is making new fans on Canada’s west coast while managing to mostly stay out of trouble.
She Could Be Trouble is through the Vancouver Island leg of a 24-date tour that will take the threesome through much of British Columbia and into the neighboring province of Alberta.
Although Brodie Dawson, Tracy Riley and Christy Vanden officially formed the band only during the past winter, the Vancouver Island Music Awards (VIMA) nominated them for group of the year.
The trio, which hasn’t recorded a CD together yet, was such a hit on the recent awards night that it was asked to perform a second song.
Dawson is no stranger to VIMA.
Named 2014 vocalist of the year, she was nominated for best live act in 2013 and 2014, and her song All This Time was nominated for best roots/folk recording of the year in 2015.
The glue that holds the group together, Dawson acts as booking agent and publicity director. On stage, she plays acoustic guitar and electric bass. As good as her lead singing is, she excels at supporting whoever else is in the spotlight.
Riley is the most versatile instrumentally, greatly expanding the band’s sound by playing bass, guitar, djembe and harmonica. An admirer of David Lindley and Ellen McIlwaine, Riley is capable of fiery slide guitar outbursts and occasional funkiness on the electric bass.
She supplies the majority of the band’s sass.
Lacking the experience of the other two, Vanden easily holds her own. Barely 22, petite and sweet, she initially surprises audiences with the grace, power and soul of the sounds she wrings from her beloved Stratocaster.
Vanden’s singing, strongly reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt’s, has a yearning, winsome quality.
At the April 8 tour-launching house concert at a bed-and-breakfast lodge in their Comox Valley base on Vancouver Island, Dawson joked that, while she writes bitter breakup songs, Vanden’s tunes are full of optimism and hope.
That show had the usual glitches of any first gig on a tour, although the trio shone as it displayed a range that included folk, blues, soul, gospel and funk.
Dawson wrung every nuance out of Three Wishes, Riley’s title track from a 2014 CD. While Riley wrote the heartbreakingly beautiful tune, Dawson inhabits it as she sings.
Other highlights were Riley’s ferocious McIlwaine-like slide work to end the first set, gorgeous harmonies on the only song the group has written together so far to open the second set and a strong version of Dawson’s catchy Overtime as an encore.
When they reappeared on a Comox Valley stage a month later, Vanden especially seemed more confident, contributing some funky wah-wah pedal work.
Vanden, after all, is relatively new to playing and singing in front of people, although she was raised by musical parents and began playing guitar at seven.
Dawson was thrilled to discover her in a local music store, then shared her with tens of thousands of people on the mainstage of the 2014 Sunfest Country Music Festival.
Riley, who met Dawson in the Far North town of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, splits her year between there and the Comox Valley.
That limits collaboration, but the trio plans to record its first CD as a group this year, and Vanden is working on a solo EP.
The women of She Could Be Trouble will see where their synergy takes them as they tackle 14 gigs in as many days, starting May 22 and 23 at the Cloverdale Rodeo near Vancouver. In July, they’ll perform at Sunfest.
As good as Dawson, Riley and Vanden are by themselves, their sum is greater than their parts.
Their harmonizing is exquisite, instrumentation is versatile and supportive, and they get to choose the best songs from each of them, bringing their original material to life more broadly and deeply than they can individually. Vanden+Riley+Dawson=winning combination.
More about She Could Be Trouble, music group, Trio, Comox Valley, Vancouver island
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