Ria Mae at the CBC

On Saturday night I was one of the lucky few able to attend a taping of Ria Mae at CBC Studio 1, and wow was it ever good. I had seen Ria play before, and been impressed with her live show and how her performance was simultaneously raw and polished. This time the taping was for TV and the audience was not disappointed.  Let’s run through the list of who was on stage, shall we:

Ria Mae – (obviously) singer, songwriter, reason for the season 

Margot Durling – an established Halifax business-owner, Margot provided the beautiful harmonies and she didn’t miss a note

Shehab & Asif Illyas – 2/3rds of the band Mir, this team of brothers plays drums and bass for Ria, and Asif was the producer of the album

Kim Dunn – Mr. Dunn was an exciting addition to the collective, as he showed up on keyboards and blew me (and most of the crowd) away with consistently beautiful accompaniment one off-the-charts piano solo

The strings – I’m sorry for not remembering the names of these 3 ladies who were on stage for 2 songs, but they were wonderful. Ria expressed her own excitement about being able to play live with strings, and it truly did sound amazing.

They played through the whole “Under Your Skin” album, and transitioned from song to song with some pretty hilarious banter between Ria and Margot. The songs themselves are thoughtful and well-written, covering a variety of themes from love, to loss, to longing. The music is also definitely influenced by Ria’s east-coast heritage,  as she stated that her inspiration for one song was living in a city where everyone knows everyone else’s business and “seeing two people hanging out… who shouldn’t be hanging out!” (a concept I’m sure many of us are familiar with). For me, the real show-stopper was the title track, as it brought the entire group of 8 musicians on stage for a stunning live performance. It was a wonderful night with wonderful music, and I’m sure we’re going to be seeing a lot more from her. So keep your eye out for Ria Mae on CBC, and get yourself to one of her shows. Or at the very least, watch the video. You’ll enjoy it.


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