Updated: May 13
by Scott Roos
pics by Scott Roos with editing by Deanna Roos Photography
It took four long years of waiting, due largely in part to COVID, but finally Yukon based, indigenous singer-songwriter Diyet and her band The Love Soldiers were able to perform on the E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts stage this past Friday, September 30th. It was the eve of Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Diyet and her band, which is fleshed out by husband Robert Van Lieshout (rhythm guitar, percussion) and Bob Hamilton (mandolin, pedal steel and lead guitar), were able to spend much of their day reflecting on the day’s importance and meaning in Prince Albert.
“We went out and down to the river to the park (to take in some of the events surrounding the day) and just wandered around and listened and just took in some of that feeling. It was a little heavy too as it should be. It’s a day of reflection for me. It has a deep meaning. So I felt a little bit of a somber feeling of just taking those moments to think about our collective history and to honour the people and the children who had to go to residential schools,” Diyet explained in a brief telephone conversation with NSMZ.
Those moments of reflection were certainly not lost on Diyet as she cycled through a powerful and poignant set of original tunes at the Rawlinson later on in the evening. With a sound that is part alternative country, part folk, part roots and part traditional, Diyet, from the outset, took the small but enthusiastic crowd on an emotional journey weaving in stories from her upbringing in the Kluane lake region of the Yukon.
“I like going to concerts myself where there's a story in there. Something that you can follow a little bit and you feel like you're going on a journey with those musicians and with those words. That's how we put the set together. Let's tell a story a little bit and let's have a conversation and let's bring people home with us (with our music),” explained Diyet.
The musical stylings of Canada’s territories north of the 60th parallel are quite unique. While it’s true that each area, the Yukon, Nunavut and The Northwest Territories, each have their own flora and fauna on top of cultural heritages and backgrounds, they all share the commonality of being wild and expansive places full of mystery. It’s something that Diyet, in her music, captures very well.
“(The northern) landscape and environment is so much a part of the music, In a lot of ways, we're always trying to capture that feeling or that sound or that expanse,” continues Diyet.
With tips of the cap specifically to the trio, Diyet’s voice was the centerpiece to be sure, but the individual musicianship of Bob Hamilton and Robert van Lieshout played an integral supporting role. Collectively the trio could play edgier plugged-in songs featuring Diyet on bass, or strip down to an acoustic trio format with Hamilton on mandolin, Van Lieshout on guitar and Diyet on vocals. It showed amazing versatility and also kept the entire set from getting stale. Diyet was also able to perform a few traditional songs alone on stage which added another dynamic to the show.
“It's a pleasure and a thrill (to be performing again). I certainly don't take it lightly myself. I've had that conversation with my mom and with my grandma even because I've also been allowed to sing some of the songs that are from my community. With that comes a lot of responsibility when you have that kind of permission to take it out into the greater world,” concluded Diyet.