Anticipating a good old stomp around, we rolled into the welcoming doors of Riley’s, past the smokers who were shivering in their coats. Riley’s had been torn apart considerably in the adventure that was the will they/won’t they conversion into a Holiday Inn. You could still see where the edging had been ripped from the walls, and the bar didn’t have any beer on tap, as that too had been ripped out. When I was in the ladies’ room, the paper towel dispenser fell off the wall; a waitress was later seen presenting it to the bartender, saying “you deal with this.” The Riley’s staff were clearly happy to be back, and they were warm and funny as usual. The crowd was clearly happy to be there, and everyone I spoke with expressed happiness that the best little live venue in town was back open.
Much to my regret, I missed Power Duo, the talented and appropriately named two piece act consisting of Naomi Kavka and Corbin Spensley. Apparently, they were awesome, and are excellent performers, and it was my loss. Nonetheless, it was an excellent night, set to the wonderful sounds of local band and CFUR favourites Black Spruce Bog (disclosure for ethical reporting purposes: everyone in the band has volunteered, deejayed, or worked for CFUR at one point or another). The Riley’s atmosphere was back, and everyone was feeling it; the room was full of people dancing and laughing and stomping their feet. The familiar twang of Black Spruce Bog’s northern blues folk warmed all of our feet to dance and the room was full of merriment!
At one point, vocalist, mandolinist and trumpet soloist, Amy Wyn Blanding said, “we’ve just returned from our tour, and we had a lot of good shows, but there were no crowds quite like this.” It was apparent that Black Spruce Bog was just as happy to be in Prince George as Prince George was to have them. Indeed, Prince George was very happy to have them: local grocery store Home Sweet Home sold out of Black Spruce Bog pre-sale tickets days before the show, and when 8:30 Saturday night rolled around, the entire place was packed to the gills and sold out.
When Black Spruce Bog finally ended the night with their new single, “Lorne Creek Mountain Man”, sung by musical jack-of-all-trades Jeremy Pahl, not a person in the room wasn’t up on their feet. Black Spruce Bog’s debut album is coming soon, so be sure to contact them at http://blacksprucebog.com/contact/ to preorder it on vinyl or as a CD. T-shirts are also available.