Richard Graham’s upcoming performance at the Mayor’s Gala for the Arts is one that stands out for him — not just because it’s a big show with lots of fanfare, but because he’ll be facing an audience full of his peers and past teachers.
“I’d say there’s more pressure, but it’s a nice feeling and I’m extremely grateful for everyone that’s working on it with me,” Graham told KTW ahead of the performance.
Graham was born and raised in Kamloops and has lived in the city for much of his life, with stints away in the United States and Vancouver. Everywhere he’s been, he’s been playing music.
“Music was always something that was fed to us growing up,” he said.
Graham took music lessons in the city and has played with a wide range of musicians over the years.
Now, he’s taken to music he describes as groove-based soul jazz and R&B, and he’s doing it with a handful of other local talents, all of whom Graham is proud to have around.
The Backbeats lineup includes Jon Treichel on lead guitar, who Graham called “a bit of a musical encyclopedia.”
“He’s been recording my work a lot and engineering my work a lot,” Graham said.
And it includes Neil Brun on bass.
“He’s studied as well in university. He’s a delight to have in the band because he’s so good at what he does.”
And then there’s Graham Howe on trumpet. He’s a “one-man horn section,” according to Graham and performs a New Orleans-style revue.
On keys, you’ll find Alex Ward, a musician Graham has a particular connection with despite the age difference between the two performers.
“I grew up playing with his father. We had a jazz band when I was in my late teens,” Graham said.
Ward’s father Peter died in 2017, making his son’s presence in the band along with Graham that much more significant.
“Alex is out there with his dad’s big old upright bass playing jazz with me, so it’s really quite a feeling. There’s quite a vibe from that young cat,” he said.
Graham said Ward is poised, keen and “quite good.”
Graham himself provides the vocals from behind the drum kit.
If you’re curious to see these players in action, you’re in luck. Graham and company have just released a new video filmed last year, performing Harry Connick Jr.’s Come By Me, complete with dance, choreographed by local dance instructor Dela Coutts and performed by Coutts and Bronwen Kettleson.
The video, among others, is available on the Richard Graham’s Backbeats YouTube channel.
The group’s upcoming gala performance won’t quite be the same, given the 1950s theme of the event, but there will still be plenty of style and the band will be ready to perform.
“They want quite a show and we just have to deliver,” Graham said.
Ticket sales for the Gala officially ended Tuesday, but a limited number of tickets may still be available through the Kamloops Live box office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483 or online at kamloopslive.ca.