by Scott Roos
Chester Fest pics by Deanna Roos
It’s been a busy but rewarding past few weeks for Seven Mile Sun. With the summer months now in full swing and the COVID restrictions in the rearview mirror for quite some time now, the trio of rural rockers have been able to secure quite a number prestigious gigs. Speaking to NSMZ from his campsite on Jackfish Lake, vocalist/guitarist Kevin Stevens seemed happy to have the well-timed rest from the grind of playing in one of the province's most rocking, engaging and entertaining bands.
“It's nice to have a break. We were rehearsing and performing for a couple of weeks there pretty steady,” Kevin Stevens told NSMZ.
Over the past few days in particular, Stevens’s band found themselves playing in the Saskatoon based SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival on the open air, Victoria Park stage as well as Prince Albert’s Chester Fest Couch + Music Festival. For Stevens it was like going from one extreme to another.
“Both were special in their own way,” remarked Stevens. “At Victoria park there were tons of people from our hometown. It was quite an amazing turnout of local folks at that one.”
While the local crowd was a nice boost for the band, they still had to contend with the sheer size of the stage. Stevens recounted that, early on, they had been given a key tip from their friend, and former Sheepdogs guitarist, Leot Hanson.
“Leot said (The Sheepdogs) always used to tighten up their formation when they were on a big stage and we kind of took that advice and we started doing that too,” said Stevens.
Stevens said he was very happy with being asked to play the jazz festival. It’s a gig he’d always dreamed of playing and he finally got that opportunity on July 6th. To get to do it with his sister Kimberly (drums/Seven Mile Sun) and family friend Joanne Genest (bass player/Seven Mile Sun) obviously made it extra special.
“I just tried to take it all in as we were performing up there and just appreciate the moment and I think we did a good job of that. And that big stage and big sound system and everything made the sound fantastic. So it was just a really cool experience,” continued Stevens.
On the flip side, at Chester Fest in Prince Albert, the band was playing in a much smaller venue to a more unfamiliar crowd. It was Seven Mile Sun’s first performance in Prince Albert. Due to issues with inclement weather, the band found themselves playing on the smaller Feher Financial stage. They just rolled with it because that’s what they do.
“The sound in that small room was really good. I'm sure on the big stage it would have been a totally different experience but where we got to play we loved the sound. The sound tech, Jeff, had it cranked up nice and loud which is exactly what we like. It was absolutely awesome. I was kinda glad that it got moved inside because it was really tight in there and it reminded me of a small room like Buds on Broadway or something and we were very comfortable on that stage,” Stevens explained.
Seven Mile Sun’s specific brand of heavy riff rock pounded the smaller, more intimate crowd in Prince Albert. They are a well oiled machine and can turn things on a dime if need be. They are very intuitive musically. They are fun to watch because their familiarity with each other as people and musicians allows them to be looser without losing control. If you watch Joanne and Kimberley they quite often share smiles and sideways glances with each other. This band knows how to have a good time and the audience, in turn, usually ends up being very receptive to their energy. They play their music loud and proud (I think Kimberley might kick a hole in the floor one day with how hard she pummels her kick pedal).
“Being in a small band, like either a two piece or a three piece I think Kimberley always felt that she had to hit ‘em hard to fill out the sound and I think that's a big contributor for making as much noise as we do for a three piece act. As far as Joanne goes, Joanne's really used to filling in space in a three piece act because that's always what she's performed in and she does a fantastic job of it for sure. When we went from a two piece to a three piece, I was able to open up so much with my own playing. I was always trying to play rhythm and lead and I still do some of that. I use my thumb and I play the top string a lot to try fill in a little bit too. But yeah Joanne's an excellent part of the rhythm section.
In terms of new material, the band has recently released their “Love Sails” single and accompanying music video. They are also sitting on music that’s already in the can waiting to be released. When it will be released and how much of it will be released at once remains to be seen. In terms of their next show, the band with Sparrow Blue and The Hourhand at the Capitol in Saskatoon on Saturday, July 23rd and will be headlining Tralapa Music & Sports Festival on Friday, August 5th.
*Seven Mile Sun at Chester Fest (L to R: Kevin Stevens, Kimberley Stevens and Joanne Genest)