Lion Bear Fox set to make Bailey Theatre return
Lion Bear Fox is returning to the Bailey Theatre for Rose City Roots on Friday at 8 p.m. File photo/ Camrose Canadian
Camrose is quickly a favourite stop for Vancouver Island band Lion Bear Fox.
The trio made a Rose City Roots stop last year and demand was high enough that organizers scrambled to book them for another RCR Bailey Theatre show this year, and on Friday they make their return.
“Once you get into the outskirts, you always find pockets of people are super like-minded but maybe don’t want to be around a ton of people in a city and they’re really just happy you came,” said Ryan McMahon, who also recently played a house concert in Camrose. “We’ll go anywhere where people want to ingest our art, and Camrose awesome. They’re super friendly and there’s a couple of great people that help us put on shows there and Rose City Roots is definitely one of them.”
Lion Bear Fox came together by complete accident.
The group also includes Christopher Arruda (the Lion) and Cory Woodward (the Bear). All three veterans of the West Coast music scene. Frustrated with other projects, the three came together for a three-act solo acoustic tour, rotating the headliners each night. Eventually, they started joining each other on stage for different songs until someone approached them at a concert in Winnipeg, asking them when their CD is coming out.
“We were like ‘what CD? We’re not even a band,’” said McMahon.
The seed that was planted in Manitoba grew and they decided to see if there was something there in 2012.
Since then they have been on a slow, methodical build which includes playing the Tonder Festival in Denmark in front of 20,000 people in August.
“We’re all getting into our late 30s and two of us have families, so every move you make has to count,” said McMahon. “It’s been a slow build, and every step we make seems like It’s been a natural thing, we’re not a radio band, there’s not going to be some huge hit that blows the doors wide open for us, but every year we see our business grow, we see our audience grow and we fly a little longer and we’re going to keep going because we still enjoy each other’s company.”
They have toured fairly hard over the last five years, but each time out they are building off of their last performance and developing chemistry and trust. It has come naturally to them.
“As each year goes past, everyone in the band trusts each other just a little bit more,” said McMahon, 38. “When it’s Chris’s time to shine, Cory and I know to stay out of the way, that’s his moment to connect with the audience and we’re just there to back him up. Why that comes so easily to the three of us, we were all front men for so long and we were always hoping the guitar player would just stop soloing so we could make a connection with the audience, and that is what it’s all about. The connection to the crowd ... is the most important part of the evening, and if we’ve walked away feeling that connection, then we’ve won.”
As well received as they were last year in Camrose, McMahon says they should be better this time around due to that chemistry.
“We now have all of these stories,” he said. “We’re a much more seasoned band, we’ve played Kansas City, Nashville, been down to L.A. as well, and it has only brought the three of us closer, so it seems like we are more of a cohesive unit than even last time.”
This also played into the development of their latest self-titled album. Arruda, McMahon and Woodward spent 10 days together recording the EP at a studio called The Woodshop just outside of Duncan, B.C., on Vancouver Island. The studio they recorded in was off the beaten path in the surrounding woods. It brought them back to a place of serenity and helped them focus on their marathon sessions in front of a mic, as they churned out one song each day.
The resulting project is a collaborative effort that combines fast-paced, guitar-driven roots rock with soul-filled melodies and ballads.
The band is not bent on world domination, but more just on getting their music out to people while they are willing to listen.
“If you ever set an end goal that can get you into trouble, because if you don’t get there you could be setting yourself up for disappointment and if you do get there, then you’re left with ‘Well now what?’” said McMahon. “I know that all of us are making a living playing music and that’s an accomplishment in itself, and you can pat yourself on the back a little bit but keep moving forward. As long as things keep growing, we’ll keep going.”
Friday’s concert begins at 8 p.m.