My wife played me a video of this Vancouver based group a couple of years ago, and while I recall being impressed, it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight. Fast forward to Mother Mother’s performance at the Calgary Stampede’s Coca Cola stage last week and I am transmogrified into a huge fan. A paradigm shift. Every single song was more interesting and spectacular than the last. Super rare when hearing music for the first time.
I don’t normally name every song a band plays in their set and in this case, it wouldn’t matter if I did. These are songs of great craft, passion and instant connection. The brainchild of brother and sister Ryan and Molly Guldemond, of Heriot Bay B.C., Mother Mother are not just musicians but fully engaged artists. They are lofty in their art but not their message and that message is that we are all together here. We all carry some kind of pain and it unites us. It makes their music challenging yet relevant and appealing. As Ryan said at one point: “Be creative with your sadness. Paint a picture, dig in your garden.” In “So Down” he sings: “I believe in the pain. I believe it’s the way to find peace again.” In “ It’s Alright”: I’m aright, I’m ok. I’m not a monster I’m only human and I’ve made a few mistakes”. In “Get up”: “Get your head on straight. For such a little thing, you sure are in your own way” This is the realistic and encouraging theme throughout most of Mother Mother’s music, and it hits home with the majority of us.
Ryan Guldemond is about as genuine a frontman as you will ever see. Despite his intense appearance there is a heart on the sleeve honesty and vulnerability about everything he is singing. The complicated but always hooky guitar lines and vocal melodies he plays demonstrate this man’s incredible talent as gifted writer and performer. Taking downstage left and right, Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin (vocals and keyboards) blended, weaved and soared, each commanding a song of their own (one of which was a deadly cover of Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused). Ali Siadat (drums) and Mike Young (bass) are a perfect groove machine. Keeping it down and dirty and light and airy. Whatever was tasked of them. Tight. Smooth. Fluid.
Since this concert, this music has not been far away from my consciousness. I have watched a number of Mother Mother’s YouTube videos. The videos are artful and imaginative, creating great things on a limited (Canadian) budget. Their live performance videos are honest, revealing and flawless. It is the same in front of an audience such as occurred at the Calgary Stampede. This is a band that should be a household name. Their music is that real, that catchy, that engaging. That relatable.
Mother Mother are striking a lot of chords. Listen to them, watch their videos, see them live. It will change you.
By Keith A. McTaggart
All photos by Hope Photography