Devon Coyote…cool name, even cooler music. Getting his start performing as half of a duo in his hometown of Kelowna BC, Devon eventually made the decision to move forward as a solo artist, and it has proved to be a good one. Taking on the moniker Devon Coyote, over the past 5 years he has been forging a respected name for himself within Canada’s independent music scene. Now joined by the talented D’Arcy Booth and Dylan Ranney, our audience bore witness to the evolution of Devon Coyote as this dynamic trio took his live performance to a whole new level.
Born Devon Bjarnason on a 3 acre farm in the Okanagan Valley, this jovial, kind-hearted man behind the strong stage name is one of the most versatile artists to have ever graced the Serenity stage, which is why venue owner Shirley de Vooght continues to have him back again and again. Devon attracted all of the venue’s regulars from over the years for a show that was nearly sold out weeks in advance. For most in attendance who had come to see Devon play for the second, third or fourth time, they spoke as if he is the darling of the venue, the favourite among many, and the prince of this artistic haven hidden down a dirt road in the heart of BC’s North Thompson Valley.
Devon Coyote’s music is more than a sound or performance, it’s a state of mind. Experiencing a live show lets you in to the consciousness of what it truly means to live and breathe music, how it courses through your veins like a rushing river, eventually crashing into your heart and soul. With a stage full of instruments, Devon showcased his multidimensional talent between the acoustic, electric and lap slide guitar, not to mention his ability with the harmonica. Continuing to one-up himself throughout the night, Devon’s stylings provided something for everyone to enjoy. A chameleon of sorts, he moved with ease from the most authentic blues performance you can imagine, to a light-hearted folk-pop song. Although he transitions between genres, his unique style remains, providing a recognizability that joins his performance together seamlessly. As was mentioned by an audience member hearing him for the first time, “He showed us something new with each song, and I loved every single second.”
Based out of Kelowna BC, Devon Coyote performed for us at the start of a month long tour taking him and the band across the country to Montreal. Once there, they will fly back to BC for a few days to open up for the iconic George Thorogood at the CN Centre in Prince George on April 30 and the Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops on May 1. This bill is one of the largest he has landed since his debut album was released in 2011. It’s proof of Devon’s dedication and perseverance over the years as he transitioned from his life as a tradesman to a full-time musician. And he is now in good company. Playing alongside him were two exceptional musicians who have solidified his sound among some of the purest rock’n’blues you can find.
D’Arcy Booth is one of the most impressive bass players you may ever have the pleasure to see perform. With an ease and mastery of his instrument, his fingers were like silk, gliding across the strings as if barely touching them at all. His bass solos were obvious highlights of the night, not to mention when he pulled out the banjo. Unmistakably humble, D’Arcy’s boyish grin and soft-spoken nature are an absolute delight. Devon deems him one of the most accomplished musicians he has ever played with, which is why he is still pinching himself about the fact that D’Arcy became a permanent member of the band last year. Playing close to 200 shows together in 2013, Devon and D’Arcy compliment each other perfectly and are both equally dedicated to the hard work necessary to keep their music front and center and stay relevant on the touring circuit. D’Arcy also produces a large amount of the visual art for the band’s promotional materials and merchandise. Everything from album art to t-shirt designs, he is eager to contribute to the development of the band’s image. As much as he enjoys it, luckily their newly acquired drummer has the skills necessary to pick up any future needs that may arise.
Recently graduating with a Fine Arts degree from UBC Okanagan, Dylan Ranney came to the band as a painter and sculptor who also happened to play the drums since childhood. In a twist of fate, on a night out meant to contemplate his unsteady career as an artist, Dylan ended up at a venue where Devon Coyote was performing. Devon and D’Arcy were playing with one of the many “fill-in” drummers they had gone through over the past year, and in a moment of frustration on stage, D’Arcy made a tongue in cheek audition announcement to the crowd asking if anyone played the drums. As if D’Arcy was speaking directly to him, Dylan rushed the stage and introduced himself immediately. What started out as funny banter, opened the door for acquiring the missing link to the band, a drummer and percussionist who was not only good, but whose personality blended well with both Devon and D’Arcy. With the appeal of a young Jay Baruchel, Dylan adds some youthful spunk to the musical “veterans” as he so slyly refers to his band mates in their early thirties. For Devon Coyote, after years of performing on his own, he is stronger and more confident than ever due to the incarnation of a band that performs the hell out of his music.
It’s important to note that a component of what makes Devon Coyote’s live show so enjoyable is that Devon himself is incredibly likable. Although it may seem rather simple, likability is a quality that is forever intangible for those who do not naturally inhabit it. Whether you are watching him on stage or sharing a beer with him off of it, he is the kind of artist you root for, who you will keep coming out to see again and again and buy albums from year after year. He has a bravado that causes you to sit up and take notice of every note and word, with a comforting familiarity that is all together unaffected.
Between his debut album Blue, Black & Grey (2011) and last year’s EP Broken Down (2013), Devon Coyote continues to keep us guessing about what he is capable of producing next. Heading back into the studio this summer to record his second full length album, based on what we saw and heard here, the best is yet to come.
Standouts: Mona Lisa, a sweet tune that captures a sentiment of longing and youth; Always in the Grey, a solid dose of up-tempo rock’n’blues that shows off Devon’s musical chops; and Broken Down, a gutsy dagger to the heart that earns its place as the title track off his recently released EP.
Devon Coyote performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on April 5, 2014.
For links to album downloads, music videos, information on his tour schedule, and more, visit his website at http://www.devoncoyote.com