What’s In Your Fridge: Robin Layne

    1 of 4 2 of 4

      What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.

      On the grill

      Robin Layne

      Who are you

      I am a JUNO-nominated percussionist, composer, and educator. I have been devoted to bringing the marimba into new venues and spaces throughout my career. I am inspired by rhythm and how it connects us in community and bridges cultures. I have been chasing rhythm around the globe for the past 15 or 20 years and have been fortunate to study and perform all around the world. A recent highlight was pursuing a research grant to study the marimba de chonta in Colombia in connection to my upcoming second album due out later this year. 

      I love to dance behind the marimba and see folks dancing in the audience when we play. I love seeing kids faces light up when they get connected to the magic of making music together as a group. I have seen time and again how music has the power to be a positive force in a young persons’ life through my 15 years of work at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, as well as doing workshops with Jam Camp, Instruments of Change, Miscellaneous Productions and many more organizations.

      I am excited to share my new kids’ show at Festival Du Bois on March 25-26 – it will be a Journey into Rhythm and take the audience on an interactive exploration of music and culture, featuring the marimba, congas, talking drum, pandeiro and more. Members of the audience will even get a chance to join the band on stage with Liam MacDonald and Yoro Noukoussi joining me on percussion.

      First concert

      First concert I can remember being told I heard was Raffi when I was not yet born. First concert I distinctly remember–there were definitely some before then–was a Trichy Sankaran concert up-island somewhere. 

      I grew up in Victoria. I would have been around 13 or so. Trichy is a legendary mridangam player and I can remember being mesmerized watching him play. I was honoured to get a chance to join him on stage a couple of times recently with the Offering of Curtis Andrews. 

      Life-changing concert

      Ooh this is a hard one. I feel like I have seen quite a few over the years. The first one that really blew my mind was watching Keiko Abe perform a solo marimba show at the PASIC Convention in either 2001 or 2002. At the time I’d been questioning my next steps in music and in life and watching her perform so gracefully and powerfully affirmed in me my desire to make a career out of being a marimba player, or at least give it my best shot.

      Top three records 

      Salif Keita Mouffou  This album had a huge impact on me in my early 20s. I can remember listening to it for months straight after a breakup. Salif has a voice that speaks directly to the heart and it really opened up my ears and eyes to the incredible music coming out of West Africa—this led to a study trip to Guinea and Mali some years later

      Rubén González Introducing…Rubén González  I arrived at this album a bit later on, through the Buena Vista Social Club, and years of dancing  as a teenager growing up in Victoria and later studying in L.A. and Cuba. This is a record I never grow tired of listening to and is a regular in our family rotation.

      Los Lobos La Pistola y Corazon  I was a late comer to Los Lobos as well and didn’t really fall in love with this record until my late 20s thanks to my dear friend and bandmate Tom Landa from Locarno. Now hardly a week goes by that it isn’t spinning on the record player.

      All-time favourite video

      Tiny Desk Concerts. I didn’t really grow up with TV… so having a hard time choosing one here… though I will say that I am obsessed with watching Tiny Desk Concerts and have discovered many fantastic new artists as well as enjoyed many intimate shows thanks to this series.

      What’s in your fridge?

      A big jar of pickled onions. We love making and eating tacos and my wife figured out the secret to making pickled onions, which makes most every taco taste just a little bit better. That is, if you are a fan of pickled onions. The recipe is not that secret and not that hard, I believe it’s just salt and vinegar, but what do I know… I’ve still never made it. 

      A jar of brandy cherries. We love bourbon and making an Old Fashioned on a cold winter’s night. After a night of sipping an Old Fashioned at Guilt & Co one evening, I asked the bartender what the secret to the brandy cherries was and he suggested where to go buy them. Adding a couple to the drink definitely adds a nice touch. I might have bought three different kinds for my wife one Christmas during COVID…

      A bottle of mango habanero sauce. This is the best, most flavourful, sweet and spicy sauce, that I found at the Mount Pleasant Famer’s Market this summer. I go to the market most every Sunday with my son and we load up on fruits and veggies. I can’t remember who made this sauce, though I know I would recognize the stand again if I saw it. I hope I do see it again soon when the market opens up again as we are running out! If I find out who makes it I will let you know!

      Catch Robin Layne at Festival du Bois, BC's largest celebration of francophone music and culture, running March 24 to 26 at Maillardville's Mackin Park in Coquitlam.