Rich Hope whips it out for Keithmas

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      You could say Rich Hope is a busy guy. The long-time local musician’s day gig is really two jobs in one: he’s not just a senior barber at the Belmont, he’s also the owner of the deliciously old-school Mount Pleasant shop.

      He’s also a parent, which anyone with kids will tell you is a full-time vocation in itself.

      All of which helps explain why it took him nine years to follow up his last long-playing album, 2009’s Rich Hope Is Gonna Whip It On Ya. Well, that and the fact that—as he admits when the Straight reaches him between haircuts—at first he didn’t see much point releasing another old-fashioned LP in the digital age.

      “Just after 2009 the streaming services were really starting to happen,” he says. “I thought I should just do songs. We were getting back into the age of the single, you know, so it just felt like, ‘Let’s do a single.’ And then we were doing the Blue Rich Rangers project, my country thing. We just felt like making some songs for that, so we did, like, five of them. I wasn’t worried about making another album. I just felt more like making some songs and putting them out for people. After the Blue Rich Rangers stopped, I just thought, ‘Yeah, let’s go make a rock record.’ ”

      Hence I’m All Yours, which came out in October. Across its 10 tracks, Hope indulges his love for the genres that have shaped him as an artist—witness the droning electric blues of “La Iguana”, the organ-fuelled garage-rawk rave-up that is “5 Cents a Dance”, the brassy vintage R&B of “Some Kind of Love”, the cosmic country of “Blow Away”, and the throat-shredding, foot-stomping carnal gospel of “Runnin’ Shoes”.

      Stylistically, I’m All Yours might be all over the map, but it’s a map well-travelled by Hope and his crack sidemen, bassist Erik Nielsen, keyboardist Matt Kelly, and drummer Adrian Mack, whom Hope credits with encouraging him to bring all of his influences to the table: “When we were first talking about doing it, Adrian said ‘I think you need to make a Rich Hope record. You need to make one that’s all the things that you are.’ So, in an effort to do that, we didn’t try to do anything, you know what I mean?”

      Hope and company made the record with Felix Fung at his Little Red Sounds studio. Fung has become a producer and engineer of choice for many in the Vancouver music scene thanks to his reputation for capturing the authentic sound of a band playing together in one room, and for getting the best possible performances from musicians by facilitating a relaxed and creative atmosphere.

      “I’ve always kinda done stuff live off the floor,” Hope says. “But just the experience and the way we set it up was a little bit different than I had done it before. We just sort of baffled stuff and made sure there were spots in the room where it wouldn’t bleed too much, but if there was a little bleed we didn’t care. Just the way we were all in one spot, and he [Fung] was sitting right there, it was very comfortable.”

      The next time Hope and his band hit the stage, don’t expect to hear anything from I’m All Yours. That’s because their next gig is the headlining slot at Keithmas, the annual celebration of both Christmas and the December 18 birthday of the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards.

      Check out Rich Hope's version of "Shattered" at Keithmas VII at the Rickshaw.

      The ninth edition of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank fundraiser will also feature performances by La Chinga, Little Destroyer, Sore Points, Oswald, Chris and Cora, the Rentalmen, Elliot Way and the Wild North, Ford Pier Vengeance Trio, and War Baby.

      All will be performing songs by the Stones (or solo Richards numbers). By this point, Hope has worked his way through a big chunk of that catalogue; he has played every edition of Keithmas since the event’s inception. Fire up YouTube and you’ll find clips of him playing everything from “When the Whip Comes Down” to “Shattered” to “Far Away Eyes”.

      As for this year’s set, well, Hope is keeping his lips zipped. “What songs are we doing? Oh, it’s kind of a secret,” he says. “There’ll be horns, though. I’ll tell you that much. And it’ll be greasy.”

      Horny and greasy, then. Richards himself would surely approve.

      Rich Hope plays Keithmas IX: A Food Bank Fundrager at the Rickshaw Theatre on Saturday (December 15).