By Ted Simpson –
From the basement of the Bluesfest School of Music and Art, to the radio airwaves of LiVE 88.5 to the stage at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, the young musicians of Five+None are knocking down career milestones at a steady pace and they haven’t even finished high school yet.
The rock band has been playing together for a few years but really hit their stride over the last couple months, releasing an EP of original material in September and getting an endorsement from DJ Noah on the LiVE 88.5 Big Money Shot Spotlight in October.
Five+None came together at the Bluesfest School of Music and Art, an enterprise founded by Dovercourt Recreation Centre and RBC Ottawa Bluesfest back in 2014 that operates out of Festival House on Churchill Avenue. The school faculty saw exceptional talent in each of the five teenagers and put them together in the same room. Everything clicked.
“The school is very diverse, the program we’re in is a half year. We come in every Saturday and we get coaching with one of the teachers here for a few hours,” says lead singer Maryn Pegan. “At the end of the year you get to play Bluesfest.” They’ve played the school’s Bluesfest showcase three times now.
A connection through guitarist Lee Jessen led the band to record their self-titled album at Audio Valley Recording studio with producer Steve Foley, a professional with nearly 20 years of experience who has worked with artists that include Flo Rida, J.Cole and Kellylee Evans. The result is a polished and professional-sounding album, written by the band over the past year, that covers a lot of musical ground over four songs.
“It’s sort of a mixed bag, I’m not sure how we decide on any of the riffs we use for our songs because we’re all super different in our music tastes,” says Maryn.
“I listen to a lot of old people stuff, like 70’s and 80’s,” says bassist Kenny Hammond. Influences ranging from funk to Elvis Presley to hip hop to alternative indie music are thrown around the room by band members. “Maryn likes old, cheesy 80’s music,” says Lee.
The talent and songwriting of Five+None comes from the band’s members, while their success on the business side of things has come with a little help from their folks. “Honestly, a lot of it was push from our parents,” says Maryn. While none of the member’s parents are musicians themselves, they have all been profoundly supportive of the band. “They’re the ones who pushed us to record stuff and pushed us to keep going.”
A push from Lee’s parents got their EP into the hands of DJ Noah at alternative radio station, Live 88.5FM, and Noah ended up liking the music so much he featured the group’s song, 3d, on the station’s Big Money Shot Spotlight a radio segment dedicated to up-and-coming Ottawa musicians.
The band get out to play live often, recently performing at a fundraiser for victims of the Dunrobin tornado, hosted at the Brass Monkey. They’ll be back at the same venue for another performance on November 29.
Five+None’s music is available for download on iTunes or stream from Apple Music and on Spotify.