It’s officially house concert season at Serenity; a time to connect through music and relationship and build a stronger sense of community.
Returning to the venue for the third time in under a year, Rolla Olak performed a solo show, a departure from playing with a full rock band, but we didn’t mind one bit.
Rolla has become a beloved icon of sorts for the Serenity crowd. Following his first visit here last winter while on tour with Willhorse, venue owner Shirley de Vooght was mesmerized by his talent and spirit and made a commitment to support his career. He returned to play an outdoor show in the summer, at which time Shirley asked him to join the bill for Harvest Fest 2015 to which he enthusiastically accepted.
With a gracious demeanor and humble nature, you’d never guess the guy was signed to Universal Records with a band in his youth in Toronto, or that he continues to write for major artists and record labels across Canada and the US. Rolla is a unique soul whose music represents the qualities that have come to be appreciated by his fan base…genuine, strong, tender, bold, honest, straight-up rock.
Arriving off the highway literally minutes before his show was set to start, Rolla and his electric guitar charged up the audience immediately as he opened with “Waiting For You,” a catchy love tune he released for purchase last October that caught on immediately and was featured by many music blogs and sites, not to mention highlighted during his time as a top 20 finalist in Music BC’s 2013 Peak Performance Project.
Including the audience as active participants in his show, he led sing-a-longs, foot-stomping grooves and rocked out ballads that had the crowd all smiles and warmed with affection for this long-haired, bearded young man with an old soul.
Throughout his performance, Rolla motioned around the stage to what he referred to as his “phantom band”; it was very charming. You could almost hear the rest of the band during different parts of a song; whether there was a natural break or an amped up chorus. His performance of “Heart That Won’t Let Go” off his debut album “Western Heart” was especially interesting to watch him play solo as the track on the album is so heavily weighted by instrumentals, but he easily filled it with his voice and guitar alone.
Along with playing songs off his first album, Rolla shared his new music with us that he will begin recording next month for his sophomore albums. Yes, that’s right, albums. He will be recording two albums of original material, one with a harder rock edge to it than the other. Recently receiving a grant from The Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records (FACTOR) to assist with the costs of recording, Rolla is in the final stages of organizing his production team that will include engineering by the legendary Colin Stewart (The Hive Creative Labs) at his new destination studio on Vancouver Island. If all goes as planned, we can expect to have Rolla’s new album playing in our homes come Spring 2015.
With a timeless sound and an energy that puts you at ease instantly, it’s a favour to yourself to spend any amount of time in the company of Rolla Olak and his music.
Additional show highlights: “Karolina” – His performance of this first-rate track off his debut album was smooth as silk; “Lifetimes” – A beautiful thought provoking song worth waiting for on his new album; and a few covers that were grand in their execution, most notably Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper” and a stunning rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country.”
Rolla Olak performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on October 17, 2014.
For those in the Vancouver area, you can catch Rolla on Thursday nights at The Main (corner of East 26th Ave & Main Street), a residency sponsored by Persephone Brewing Co.
Advance tickets are on sale now for Serenity’s Harvest Fest 2015 (September 11-13, 2015) with early-bird tickets already sold out. Rolla Olak and his band will be headlining Friday night.
Visit http://www.rollaolak.com for links to music downloads, live shows, social media feeds, and more.