Firmly rooted in the Canadian roots music scene, Jon and Roy began their musical story back in 2003. A three piece folk rock and reggae band from Victoria, BC started when Jon Middleton and Roy Vizer met at UVic. A trio that now includes bassist Louis Sadava. And one that we’ve been lucky to collaborate with since they first played in one of our stores in 2012.
Their homegrown quality and island base made them an obvious choice for our ecologyst Live Sessions. Performances inspired by nature, set in nature. Championing local, environmentally like-minded musicians who care about nature as much as they draw inspiration from it. Jon recently wrote the piece, ‘The Ballad of Takaya.’ A response to the lone wolf Takaya who lived for seven years off the coast of Victoria. But recently met a heartbreaking demise.
The Jon and Roy website shares, “their brand of indie-folk is pretty much a genre in itself; evoking fog-shrouded mountains and evergreen treetops, sun-dappled beaches and the crackle of a campfire.” A landscape that sounds mighty familiar to us.
Sound of Summer
The sweet sound of summer. Encapsulating the spirit of the West Coast. A soundtrack that evokes the landscape and travels we’ll partake in across the island this season. The best music for lake swims, driving windows down, and the relaxed tones of backyard BBQs. While this theme has long been felt in the overarching sound of the trio, it is often directly voiced through lyrics. Inspiration drawn from the watery depths that edge our island home.
In Homestead, Jon sings: “Starin’ across the ocean calling me from my homestead”. Another line, “but still I want a place where I am warm and by the sea. I want a home / I like to roam / but I want a home”. A sense of freedom married with an appreciation for our coastal home that we can relate to. Exploration is at the heart of who we are. But we are always grateful and protective of our beautiful backyard, and plant deep roots here in our (re)connection to nature. Similarly, in Ripples on their fourth studio album, Riverside: ““Now the fall has come, and waves are upon the sea”. Our best surf trips are in the fall and winter here, when the waves equate to a little more than just heel kickers.
In these exclusive ecologyst Live Sessions, we’re throwing it way back to their very first album. Performing The Right Groove, whose themes of feeling at ease in a better world, and love, paired with natural elements seem both timeless and incredibly apt of our current times. And in the second session, nature-laden tune Mountain Tops. Playing guitar amongst the green foliage beside a tranquil stream on the island, Jon wears our iconic Sitka Camp Cap in Tan. Roy plays drums in our naturally waterproof organic cotton Ventile Bucket Hat, and tree-printed GOTS-certified organic cotton Sitka Work Tee.
There’s a synchronicity that appears effortless between the pair. An amalgamation of long time friendship and a legitimate career spanning so many years. A trained percussionist, Roy’s drums hold a laid back rhythm under Jon’s compelling lyrics. At times the trained percussionist cuts through the relaxed, folksy atmosphere, guiding the music to be more upbeat. Their sound can be both emotional and playful, the former coming through in the inflections of Jon’s voice. And a sense of a story told through song.
While a talented lyricist, Middleton tends to keep the meaning behind the music under wraps. A decision which no doubt adds to the very depth of the song. Listeners can place their own association to each sound, creating their own interpretations and relatability to their own lives. While Middleton in turn gets to keep his deeply personal connection to the lyrics. Translating into a compelling, soft intensity that he means every word he sings.
On the Road
The draw of such a combination of lyrics and instrumental has been felt worldwide. Their captivating style of indie-folk has taken them on tours in the US and Europe. Sharing the stage at times with the likes of Xavier Rudd and Trevor Hall. Their music has even been used in television shows and advertisements. And back in 2012 they were recognized at home in Canada; winning a Western Canadian Music Award.
Yet despite their rising international revere, they continue to record on home turf. Often at Blue Heron studios in Victoria as was the case for the first five of their studio recordings. Or in downtown Vancouver; the alternative they pursued for their sixth as an opportunity to shake things up a little. Since Riverside, they’ve subsequently recorded two more albums. The Road Ahead is Golden, and album Here that released just last year. The latter recorded back on Vancouver Island over summer and fall, in quiet spaces amongst our natural landscape. Our kind of recording studio. An endeavour that no doubt translates into the whimsical, nature-drenched feeling of the album itself.
Enjoyed this Jon and Roy outdoors performance as much as we enjoyed capturing it? Subscribe to their Spotify and discover their YouTube for more beguiling performances. New music and live show updates can also be found on their Instagram and Facebook. Keeping it old school and interested in CDs or Vinyl? You can snag past records in these formats on Jon and Roy’s website here.
As if nearly two decades with Jon and Roy wasn’t enough of an accomplishment. And one we’ve been lucky to listen to. Jon is also in the popular Canadian local band Ocie Elliott. Which might just be a hint of what’s to come in a future Live Session. Subscribe to the ecologyst YouTube channel to make sure you never miss a fresh surprise performance. Missed our first Live Session with Ashleigh Ball? Go take a peek. Our own Instagram and Facebook are where we also like to share exciting and in-the-moment updates. And you can sign up to our email below for special offers and behind-the-scenes insights into the ecologyst community.