By Keith Sharp
When Quebec music entrepreneur, Pierre Gingras started to frequent the province’s developing Country Music festival scene he became aware of an almost total lack of female groups in that genre, so he decided to form his own band.
The end result of Gingras’s efforts is Lipstick Rodeo, a six-girl group who have made major inroads within the province since their 2012 start up and are beginning to develop their own music to supplement the tribute material they currently perform.
“I would go to all these festivals and it seemed that everything was the same, I did not see any girl groups so I thought it would be a good idea if I formed one,” noted Gingras, on the phone from Ottawa. ” I already knew the drummer (Myra Camirand) and the fiddle player (Rachel Dore), they liked the idea so I staged some auditions and we finalized the original lineup.”
Guitarist Isabelle Dusseault, keyboardist Stephanie Boutet and bassist Andrea Belanger were also recruited and when the original vocalist didn’t work out, a token Anglophile, Erin Eliza was drafted in from Ottawa.
“It wasn’t easy at first,” admitted Gingras. “Some of the promoters had their doubts about an all-girl, Country Music tribute band, but when they heard Lipstick Rodeo play, and realized they could actually play their instruments, the bookings really started to take off.”
For the band’s token Anglo, Erin Eliza, performing with Lipstick Rodeo is a dream gig. “I used to listen to all these Country songs growing up and now I get to sing them with the band,” she enthused. “Songs by people like Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and I get to inject my own covers and we are working on original material too.”
Eliza joined the band through connections with Camirand and Belanger. “I had known them from performing outside of the band and when the original singer left, they asked me if I was interested,” she explained. “When I said yes, they called up Pierre and told him, they thought they had found the right replacement.”
It surprises a lot of people that such a strong Country Music following has developed in the province of Quebec. “Country Music tells stories that anyone on the planet can relate to,” explained Eliza. “That’s what makes Country Music so special, it breaks down cultural and language barriers.”
Singing mainly covers, 80% in English and only 20% in French, Lipstick Rodeo have enjoyed instant success in Quebec and have been able to spread out into the Maritimes and also perform at key event in Ontario (they are scheduled to perform Friday August 26th at the Timmins Kayak Festival in Timmins Ontario). Also on the agenda for 2017 is their first international visit to Italy and France.
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“I can’t wait to go over there, all that culture, the food, the wine and Country Music is surprisingly big in France and Italy,” allowed Eliza. “I might not want to come back!”.
Group loyalty isn’t an issue with Lipstick Rodeo, they are aware that the track record for keeping all girl bands together is pretty daunting ( see Spice Girls, Pussycat Dolls, Destiny’s Child etc) but the band’s desire to record original material to support their Tribute set list and to expand their reach across Canada is a driving force behind the band.
They have a cover’s album in the works and they are working on material for their first original recording set to be released in 2017.
“I wouldn’t say that Lipstick Rodeo is in it’s infancy but we’ve still only being going for about three years with the current lineup,” admitted Eliza. “It would be great to play those big festivals like Boots N Hearts and Cavendish and I am sure we will get those opportunities once the word gets out about the band.
But right now Eliza and the girls are along for the ride as they solidify their reputation in Quebec and expand their reach across Canada as well as make inroads into Europe.
“You stick a bunch of girls in a Winnebago together and things can get pretty wild,” laughs Eliza. “So far, the attitude is 100% positive within the band, playing in Lipstick Rodeo is a dream come true.”