It’s been a pretty incredible month for New Soul Duo. When I spoke to Vance Alexander – one half of the self-described power-cover duo that we’re featuring for this month’s music column – he had just got back into town after being on the road with his bandmate, Anthony Blaine, for a show. This was no ordinary gig, though: New Soul Duo had just been half-way around the world a few days earlier, bringing their musical talents all the way to Middle Eastern country of Bahrain!
“We were representing Canada for the World Petroleum Congress,” Alexander explained to me. Just like the Olympics, nations make bids to host this prestigious, triennial event. Canada was vying to host the WPC in Vancouver for the 23rd iteration of the meeting in 2020, and was up against Houston, Texas. Along with New Soul Duo, there were indigenous dancers, magicians, and a host of other entertainers and presenters, all aimed at representing the best Canada had to offer. Ultimately, the Council voted to hold the event in Houston (this was the third time the American city had been in the running, after two unsuccessful bids to host the 2014 and 2017 WPCs), but New Soul Duo was just happy to have had the opportunity to make the trip. “It was an amazing experience,” Alexander said, “and we had lots of people coming up and telling us they really liked our music. It was great.”
Alexander took a moment to break down the history of New Soul Duo for me. The two musicians met three years ago in the studio – but not as bandmates. Alexander was there doing some recording for a different project, and Blaine was behind the soundboard. Blaine liked what he heard, and gave Alexander some CDs of his own material to check out. Impressed, Alexander reached back out to Blaine to put some tunes together, and New Soul Duo was born, with Blaine on guitar and lead vocals, and Alexander on drums, percussion, and back-up vocals.
While their Bahrain trip was certainly a stand-out experience, it exemplifies what New Soul Duo is focused on achieving as a band. “I’ve been playing live for over 25 years,” Alexander told me, “and New Soul Duo is by far the most successful band I’ve been a part of.” When pressed to explain where he thought this success came from, Alexander summed it up as the vibe that the band embodies: they’re crowd-pleasers. With a focus on playing weddings, events, and corporate gigs like the Bahrain show, New Soul Duo caters to a unique market – one that is hungry for great-sounding live music played by talented artists, but isn’t interested in the egos or pretensions that typical rock bands carry around with them.
“We’re pushing the corporate side of things,” Alexander says, mincing no words. “That’s where the money’s at. Our mission is to get people out onto the dance floor, to have a great time, and to make life-long friends and connections while we’re at it.” Alexander admits that this isn’t a popular sentiment among some of the more traditional rock bands out there, who would accuse New Soul Duo of “selling out” by aiming to focus on corporate events and conferences over pub gigs and concert halls. From a realistic perspective, though, New Soul Duo’s aims make a lot of sense: if you can make a living by getting up on stage and playing music, it seems to me that you’re doing something right; let the haters hate, you’re living the dream. “It’s not all about me and my guitar,” Alexander summarizes, referencing the stereotypical rock & roll egoism, “For us, it’s all about the show and the crowd. It’s about loving and giving.” We couldn’t agree more.
Catch New Soul Duo live at the 2nd Annual Reader’s Choice Best in Business Awards, happening January 21st at the Strathmore Civic Centre.
Are you putting together an event that needs some entertainment? Check out New Soul Duo’s website at http://newsoulduo.com, or find them on Facebook – they’ll bring great music and an easy-going, fun atmosphere to whatever you’ve got planned!