Musical soldiers march on

As with every story, a lot of thought goes in before anything is written down.  Almost a year ago, I wrote my first piece on these guys, and I’m about to write again.  Thinking about my opening line, it was going to be; “They were ahead of their time”…and that is exactly what I had written in the first story!  And they were!  BC’s own Karroll Brothers.  They still are! It started like this: (from the first story)…They were ahead of their time…..independent Progressive Rockers, the Karroll Brothers.  A Western Canadian band hailing from Alberta and eventually making their home in the Interior of BC, and then on the Coast.  A family affair, the Karroll Brothers were three brothers, John, Paul, and Peter along with Steven Balison, ( in their first line-up).

     The group took care of business their way, and it was the right way!  Performing all across Western Canada during the seventies, they brought their Hard and Progressive Rock to numerous clubs and cabarets from Winnipeg to Vancouver.  I recall seeing the boys at a college cabaret in the latter ‘70’s, and what an impressive sound!  They were serious, and had a very professional show, right down to the lighting and sound.  Releasing an independent album in 1978, the self-titled record was on their own label K.B. Records.  The music was ahead of their time, with guitar/keyboard interplay that would mesmerise.  The guys looked tough on stage with leather, armbands and shirtless.  In concert, the energy of the Karroll Brothers broke the scale, and left their audiences breathless.  Like their self-titled debut, the group were Epic!  “Battlestar Dream” and Morning Light” stand out on the first….showcasing their song-writing abilities, and musicianship.  Very English sounding, but with a definite Canadian flavour.

  We must remember that the 1970’s were ‘heady’ days in the Canadian Music Scene, and each province had a very strong local scene that produced both Regional and National Talent.  The Karroll Brothers were part of that, becoming a Western Canadian musical force, especially when it came to live performances.  Hard work, long tours, and getting themselves involved in all aspects of the ‘business’, made for a stunning reputation and large following.  At times, if they didn’t have bookings, they created shows themselves that would also highlight other Talent.  That was one of the hallmarks of the Karroll Brothers, they had a keen sense of community and always were at the ready to help out fellow musicians.  Unbeknownst to them, for me at the time, they were role models, and along with another musician, we tried to be as self sufficient with our last group project as we seen with these hopefuls from British Columbia.

    In order to respect this space, (column space), it is enough to say that being based out of Vancouver, the Karroll Brothers were in the middle of a very strong scene, what with Internationally renowned groups coming in to the city to work, both live performances and recording.  The Brothers were represented by some of the bigger ‘movers and shakers’ of the time and made best of the opportunities at hand.  As in my first story, the group went off to other projects and livelihoods, with most being connected to music and other forms of media.  Now, in the 21st century, the sheer joy of writing and performing has enveloped the members once again and we can soon benefit from their decision to give the can another kick! 

In a recent conversation with John Karroll, I asked:  When did the decision to re-unite take place?

JK:  Music was always a major part of our lives, and when Paul moved back to BC, and started jamming at John’s home studio the song ideas started to flow.  The new recordings were a natural progression with all the energy and excitement to record again!  It clicked instantly, we both realized we missed all the fun we had playing music together!  As more jamming, recording continued the conversation each day was “wouldn’t  it be great to reform as a band and perform our favorite songs from the early days plus write new songs”  So with that goal in mind we started looking at it seriously.

Not unlike the seventies, the Karroll Brothers are not just recording, they will approach the modern business of music in the savvy way they did back in the first go-round.  I asked John…With the new recordings and obviously a business plan in place, how different is this edition of the Karroll Brothers going to be?

JK:  John & Paul Karroll have written 6 songs for inclusion on upcoming release!  With more songs in the works! Plus revisiting many previously written KB songs that were demos and had not been released… considering re-recording them and add the “new era” to the songs)

-Adding that “new era”?--I have it from John in a previous conversation that his son is also laying down some ideas on several of the original Karroll Brothers songs!  His son?-- Jonny Karroll (Gtr), of The Flu!-

In order to make a reformation successful, one must embark on a lot of work.  The Karroll Brothers are no exception; two of the original members reside in Kelowna, one in Paris; France and one in the States…

JK:  John & Paul reconnected with former KB keyboardist Frank Cooper who now resides in North Carolina plus will be sending the songs to brother Peter who resides in Paris. 

Thanks to technology they can add their instruments and vocals from around the globe!  A new website is in the works and some select dates will be announced in the new year!!

Music to this scribes’ ears!!  Not only can we look forward to new material from one of BC’s most promising groups, we will be able to see them on stage—generating that same magic they spun all those many years ago!!

Under The Lights

Upcoming Club/Concert Highlights:

The Blue Gator:    Young ‘Uns:   Nov. 9th and 10th   Easy Fix:  Nov. 14th   Orio November 15th    Zamboni Brothers:  Nov. 16th & 17th        

97 Street Pub:  Wheelhouse:   November 9th & 10th      Paper Lions:   November 15th   Out Of Eden:  November 16th & 17th

Minstrel Café: Brandi Disterheft:   Nov. 10th  Urban Birds:  Nov. 15th

The Habitat:    Hey Ocean:   November 10th   

Notable Concerts:  

Kelowna Community Theatre:    Colin James:  November 12th     

Prospera Place:   Journey/Loverboy/Night Ranger:  December 1st

Power 104’s “Rock For Kids”…December 2nd with Kelowna’s “The Flu”

The Cleland Theatre:  November 10th @ 8pm                                                                                                                        The Vernon Performing Arts Centre:  Saturday Nov. 24th @ 8pm

…if you have a musical story or news and would like me to write something… drop me a line at:  [email protected]  and let’s celebrate Kelowna’s rich and varied music community together!!.....

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About the Author

We call him the Professor of Rock: With a career in music, television and media arts spanning 30 years, Atkinson knows music. He's traveled as a professional musician and he loves Rock 'N Roll. He is a music journalist who writes internationally for Frontier Records' Melodic Rock magazine and he owns FBA International a multifaceted management, consulting, promotional entity.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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