Lee Aaron is starting to feel that bug again.
When she hits Ontario for a three concert stint that kicks off at Ottawa’s Brass Monkey venue on Thursday followed by appearances at Toronto’s Rockpile East club Friday and Rockpile West on Saturday, the Vancouver-based former Metal Queen is continuing a coming-out process that she initiated in 2013 when she made a then rare appearance at the same Rockpile West venue before hitting the stage at the Come Rock And Roar festival at Spanish Ontario along with Loverboy, Kenny Shields and Streetheart, Coney Hatch and Nick Gilder.
Yes the former Queen of Canada’s heavy metal scene is getting her groove back even though family ties which see her still caring for her two children under the age of 10, restrict her and her drummer husband, John Cody from wandering too far from the family nest.
“These days, classic rock bands like ourselves are weekend warriors,” notes Aaron as she calls in from her White Rock B.C homestead. “Long gone are the 80’s and 90’s when a band could spend an entire week at a single residency, situations like that don’t exist anymore. Now I’m more selective, it has to be financially worth it for me and my husband to be away from our kids. It’s a matter of shifting your priorities. I love music and I love performing and I can’t imagine ever hanging up the microphone. But when you have children involved, it can’t be about me all the time – for years it has been all about me.”
As Lee (or Karen as she’s known to her immediate family) has settled down to motherhood with her two children, she began to develop into an accomplished jazz performer and even dabbled in opera, singing “101 Songs From TheMarquis De Sade” for the Modern Baroque Opera Company.
“Those diversions to do jazz and opera have really developed my musical psych,” explained Aaron. “Appreciating the nuances of those musical styles have made me a better singer and a better performer. Ironically, it’s my rock fans who had never heard me sing jazz who have appreciated it most. I went into the washroom of the Mojo Room in Vancouver, kind of a prestigious jazz club and some fan had spray painted the bathroom mirror a message which said “Lee Aaron’s Brand Of Jazz Rocks!”
That quickie visit to Ontario last year, sparked Aaron’s desire to re-establish herself back in Ontario (she is a Belleville native!) and her Ottawa visit and two shows at the Rockpile sets things up for another Toronto appearance May 10th at the Opera House when she will join forces with the likes of Headpins’ Darby Mills, Coney Hatch’s Carl Dixon, Helix’s Brian Vollmer, Moxy’s Nick Walsh, Killer Dwarf’s Russ Dwarf and Sean Kelly to execute a live performance of Kelly’s Metal On Ice EP which is a musical tribute to Kelly’s Metal On Ice book which spotlights a number of Canadian metal bands who were Kelly’ heroes growing up in North Bay Ontario.
“It’s kind of like a story telling evening,” explained Aaron of the Canadian Music Week event. “Sean will have his band and we will all step in front of the spotlight, sing a song and explain how that song came about, it should be a special evening. “With all of this increased activity, Aaron admits that she’s told her husband that she feels ‘the urge’ again, to go back into the studio and record another rock album. “I haven’t done a rock album since I recorded 2Preciious with the Sons of Freedom in 1994,” acknowledged Aaron. “I have been writing material and I occasionally pull two or three songs out of my arsenal and road test them live to gauge the response. It will be one of those `in the studio in one week, fast and dirty efforts’- probably an EP. I’d rather record seven great songs rather than 12 songs where you press the skip button.”
Yes Lee Aaron was a Rock N Roll Queen in the mid 80’s and 90’s and although the advent of Nirvana triggered American record companies to clean out their hair band and hard rock rosters to accommodate the Grunge Movement, in retrospect, Aaron has no regrets.
“I’ve had to reconcile my value of success,” she notes. “When Nirvana hit the charts in 1992 it was like all the hard rock bands were pushed off a cliff by the record companies. I had only enjoyed my first two major hit records in 1989 and 1991 and it was like now, it’s all over. Initially I felt bitter, like that was my 15 minutes of fame? But now I can look back and I can reconcile my success. I may not have made a lot of money but I had fun touring all over England and Europe, I got to play live on stage and I touched people’s lives. You can’t ask for more than that.”
And yes, Aaron feels she is a much better performer than she was in the 80’s and 90’s, her live act is picking up momentum and she’s even entered into negotiations to return to Scandinavia next year to reprise the success she enjoyed when playing the Swedish Rock Festival in 2011.
“It’s great to maintain my old support, I’m still selling a ton of stuff off of my website store, but it’s also great the see young people in the audience,” concludes Aaron. “I am meeting 19 year olds back stage after the show and I’m thinking, how creepy is that!”
Photos by Ted Van Boort
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