Pawnshop Diamond
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Pawnshop Diamond

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Knox Road Review"

A glass of wine and folksy love songs with a groove are always good. I don’t care who you are, you will be in the mood for it sometime or another. So it’s fortunate we have Vancouver, B.C.’s Pawnshop Diamond. Led by Katie Ormiston, the band has been described as “both vintage and timeless,” “observant and also questioning” and “free of emo comb-overs and hipster frills.”Now for the record, I have nothing against “hipster frills,” but I will admit it’s nice to see a group that breaks things down so simply. Their latest album, Leaning To The Sun, is honest and touching. Much of the record leans heavily on the folk-side of their influence, but with a sound that’s heavy on piano, it also gains a more classic almost jazzy feel. Audrey Hepburn comes to mind.The first track, “Cabernet Sauvignon,” is a beautifully written piece that just tugs at the ol’ heart strings. Ormiston’s soft voice is very natural and trustworthy. The great thing about Pawnshop Diamond is the band would fit in nicely in a fancy jazz club, back porch folk stage, or mainstream indie club. - Knox Road

"Singer ready to crow for social housing"

Katie Ormiston laughs at the irony of getting attacked by crows while preparing for the Black Crow Project, a fundraiser for the social housing provider, the Portland Hotel Society.
The Vancouver singer-songwriter was carrying a set of black costume wings when the Commercial Drive's sharp-eyed birds spotted her.
"They were cawing and swooping down on me so I ran into a cafe," Ormiston says.
"They were waiting for me - they were on the tips of the trees calling more crows over, so I called a cab. ... It was an Alfred Hitchcock moment."
Nevertheless, Ormiston wasn't deterred from launching her project with musicians Jessie Turner and Nina Fleming.
"(Social housing) is something I feel very strongly about ... my brother suffers from mental illness and if my family wasn't involved I don't know what would've happened to him."
Named for community-minded crows, the project includes the just-released CD (available at Highlife, Audiopile and Raya Clothing) with crow-inspired tunes by Po'girl, Veda Hille and Pawnshop Diamond, among others, as well as a Nov. 27 concertand silent auction at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre (tickets, 604-280-4444). - METRO Vanouver Tuesday, November 14, 2006 by Tia Abell

"Potlucks inspire Pawnshop"

For Pawnshop Diamond, creating an album is about building community.
Singer-songwriter Katie Ormiston said much of the recording - from track order to cover art - is the result of collaboration between friends.
"(Everyone) changed what I would have created on my own," she said. "For example, seven people were involved in the creation of the CD cover."
Community is essential for Ormiston, who was raised in Victoria but moved to Vancouver five years ago. Growing up, her family held Sunday potlucks, and aside from holidays, never missed a date.
Moving from home disolved this tradition and brought a feeling of disconnection. Along with rain, crows, and homeless people, an overriding theme of Pawnshop's album is this feeling of aloneness.
To overcome that feeling, Ormiston started her own Sunday potlucks - which became her first performance venues. After sharing a meal (featuring her father's Yorkshire puddings), folks pull out instruments. "Wine and a safe living room pushed me to perform," she said. "(The potlucks) gave me an opportunity to share what I was writing in my bedroom, and hear what happens with the help of others."
East Vancouver's music scene became Ormiston's community. As she moved from observer to performer, she traded songs and ideas with friends, creating the material that became Pawnshop's album.
The album, a roots-rocker that features Ormiston's voice backed by pianist Nina Fleming, guitarist Jared Ferrie, drummer Lucas Schuller and a number of guests, will appeal to fans of alt-country singer-songwriters like Neko Case or Ryan Adams. Some songs appeared on the soundtrack for the Black Crow Project - a social housing fundraiser organized by Ormiston and Fleming last fall.
"Music brings people together, and allows us to communicate in an indirect way," she said. "(It's) centered on people adding ideas on top of ideas."
Rob McMahon is a freelance writer based in Vancouver. - METRO Vanouver Weekend, January 19-21, 2007 by Rob McMahon

"'Roots rock noir.' New indie, roots-down Pawnshop Diamond."

Published: January 25, 2007

"A holiday Monday with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and a big bowl of organic blackberries picked from the backyard," is how Katie Ormiston describes her new band.

It's a fitting description for the roots-down spirit of Pawnshop Diamond. The group's honest, folky, jazz-tinged rock is refreshingly free of the emo comb-overs and hipster frills that often pass as synonyms for musical quality.

"We may be indie, but we're not trendy-edgy enough for indie rock. I think the sincerity in our sound brings us closer to music from the past than music of today," Ormiston says. She cites Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Lucinda Williams as influences.

With Ormiston's lead vocals and guitar, Nina Fleming on backing vocals and piano, Jared Ferrie's electric guitar and Lucas Schuller on drums, the joyful noise is what the band calls "roots rock noir," a descriptor as defiant of genre as it is conscious of craft.

The group's attention to composition runs alongside a conscious decision to stop being self-conscious. "Not only has writing and performing in the band allowed me to express myself, but it has also taken away -- at least in part -- some of my need to pretend that I'm indifferent and that I don't feel intensely," says Ormiston. "Exposing my vulnerability has taken a lot of courage."

The band was formed through a series of collaborative sessions with other East Vancouver musicians, including C.R. Avery and Mark Berube. "It was C.R. and Mark who first inspired me to come out of the songwriting closet," Ormiston recalls. "Nicknamed the Patio Winos, we used to jam together with friends on Mark's porch." The band's origins and attitudes topple popular notions of a unified "Vancouver" sound with a matching "Vancouver" scene (read: The New Pornographers and Destroyer are wonderful parts, but not the defining whole of Vancouver's independent music community). "There are as many "Vancouver sounds" as there are languages spoken on the Number 20 bus at any given moment," Ormiston notes. "The East Vancouver music scene is full of musical gems yet to be discovered."

Listen to this: Girl From Chemanius.

Pawnshop Diamond celebrates the release of its self-titled debut album with friends Parlour Steps and Hefe tonight at the Railway Club. - by Jackie Wong

"5 Stars from CD Baby"

Folk rock takes on many forms, and though its basic elements have remained relatively untouched through the years, there have been endless avenues leading to the genre's evolution and reinvention. This Vancouver, BC five-piece is a great example, incorporating the time-tested tools of solid songwriting with decidedly modern musicianship, sharp lyricism, and angles of production that leave the songs sounding both vintage and timeless. The tracks are initially driven by versatile acoustic guitar and effectively layered harmonies, but it's the addition of piano that really starts the sound swelling. Electric bass and guitar take it a step further, whether the song calls for clean and precise ("Liquor Store"), or heavy and boisterous (the wonderfully titled "Flowers Are For Hippies"). The lyrics move with the melodies, flickering between coy, quirky, and off-the-cuff linear narratives, while continuously toggling between feelings of nostalgia and preoccupations of urgency. But don't worry, the songs sound anything but rushed. They're fleshed out in arrangement, polished smooth, and they're sure to stick with you. - CD Baby

"Pawnshop Diamond 'Leaning to the Sun'"

Leaning to the Sun is clearly an album made by people who remember and appreciate that records once had two sides and demanded a maximum commitment of maybe 40 minutes, as God intended. This is classy adult rock in a deftly played and efficient 10-song package, lying somewhere on the blurry border between alt-folk and country. But vocalist-guitarist Katie Ormiston’s Neko Case–ish voice is a little too bright and cheerful for either, and the same goes for her songwriting: she does smouldering jazzabilly in “Chanel #5”, but bends the genre to her own personality.

Elsewhere, “Merde Il Pleut” is a Gallic jig about Vancouver’s weather, and the five-piece delivers what sounds like a lost Kirsty MacColl song in the knockout, bittersweet country rocker “Liquor Store”. “If I’m Not Dead” hangs almost entirely on a single blunt chord change, a hook that’s as barbed as it is fiendishly simple. Like everything on else Leaning to the Sun, it gets under your skin before you have a chance to notice. Most tellingly, there’s a character in the song “Sweet Music” (let’s call her “Katie”) who spends a whole two verses singing the praises of the “second to last song on side one” of Jesus Christ Superstar, having already contemplated the Band, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Young. That’s the kind of person Leaning to the Sun is meant for (let’s call him “Me”). - Adrian Mack, Georgia Straight

"Tuck and Pawnshop Diamond at the Media Club"

Following Tuck, the crowd at the Media Club was treated to an outstanding performance by East Van folk rockers Pawnshop Diamond. Formed just shy of her 30th birthday, Katie Ormiston’s band Pawnshop Diamond is a folky, roots rock group that draws influence from classic songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Lucinda Williams. With Katie Ormiston (vocals, guitar) fronting the band, she is joined by a talented group of musicians with Nina Fleming on piano and vocals, Dave Taylor on electric guitar, Lynn Saffery on bass and Lucas Schuller on drums. Having shared the bill with the likes of Corb Lund, Sarah Harmer and Michael Franti during past performances, Pawnshop Diamond writes undoubtedly timeless music, which is very enjoyable and deemed for longevity.
With Jess Waldman and his fedora sitting in on electric guitar, Pawnshop Diamond’s set was a pleasure. When observing Ormiston groove up on the stage with a big smile on her face, you immediately get the sense that her, and the rest of Pawnshop Diamond truly want to be there for all the right reasons. They seem to simply love playing their music and performing for the welcoming crowd, and as Ormiston opens the set, she instructs the crowd that “it is never too late to start a rock band,” speaking from her experience of starting to write and play music later in life. And I must say, we’re glad she did. Starting with the upbeat “Shape I’m In (talk about it),” the band quickly settles in to the stage comfortably and with a great laid-back energy. Moving through the set list smoothly, the group seemed to have mastered writing and playing songs that provide great atmosphere and a strong sense of nostalgia. Pawnshop Diamond’s final song of the evening, titled “Sweet Music,” holds very true to its name. An ode to her musical influences, Ormiston sings that “sweet music brought [her] home,” and I couldn’t agree more. Pawnshop Diamond seemed very much at home on the tiny Media Club stage, and I can’t wait to watch such a great local act grow and find success in the years to come. - Ronatron


We are currently finishing our 3rd album and LOVING it! Please listen to "Sea Captain", just uploaded January 2011.

Leaning to the Sun - 2008
Pawnshop Diamond - 2007

CBC Radio 2 (National) "Drive" and "The Morning Show", (Cabernet Sauvignon, If I'm Not Dead, Merde Il Pleut).
Vancouver: CBC Radio 1 "Afternoon Show". Flowers are for Hippies, Merde Il Pleut, Cabernet Sauvignon)

College radio play throughout Canada, especially Ontario.
Ottawa: CKCU 93.1 "Both Kinds of Music". (If I'm Not Dead, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merde Il Pleut, Flowers Are For Hippies)
Toronto: IndieCan episodes 151, 157 and 170 (Dig Your Own Grave, If I'm Not Dead)

Some radio play in the United States.



Pawnshop Diamond songwriter Katie Ormiston had always hung around with musicians – and even dated a few – but she never actually expected to wind up on stage herself. It began with writing – working things out in a song, as John Prine would say. A romantic trip to Europe gone awry left Ormiston looking to her music collection for answers. She found some in the songs of Neil Young, JJ Cale and Lucinda Williams but went on to find the ones she needed in the words and melodies that came flooding out in her own. A close friend, Nina Fleming, flew to Europe to help her recover by sipping cabernet from white plastic cups on the Mediterranean. There, the first Pawnshop Diamond songs were born as the two friends sang harmonies on the Paris Metro.

Back in the rich musical community of East Vancouver, Ormiston didn’t need to go far to find musical collaborators. Good friends playing music, they played their first performance on Ormiston’s 30th birthday, fulfilling a promise to herself and showing a promise of things to come.

Five years later, Pawnshop Diamond has developed beyond its humble beginnings into a bittersweet folk rock band with coy and heartfelt lyrics and catchy melodies.

Narratives of modern life weave into a musical backdrop of folk and roots traditions to create songs that leave listeners singing along.

Recently returned from a second tour to Ontario/Quebec and a solo jaunt to the UK, the band is sharpening their performance skills and developing their sound with new music that feels good and sounds great.

A taste of our albums and show reviews:

"This Vancouver, BC five-piece is a great example, incorporating the time-tested tools of solid songwriting with decidedly modern musicianship, sharp lyricism, and angles of production that leave the songs sounding both vintage and timeless." - CD Baby 5 Star Feature Review

"This is classy adult rock in a deftly played and efficient 10-song package, lying somewhere on the blurry border between alt-folk and country. But vocalist-guitarist Katie Ormiston's Neko Case-ish voice is a little too bright and cheerful for either, and same goes for her songwriting. Like everything else on Leaning to the Sun, it gets under your skin before you have a chance to notice" - Georgia Straight

The song "Cabernet Sauvignon" won Music BC's Songbird West contest in 2008 and is presently on rotation on CBC Radio 2 Drive. Also, "Dig Your Own Grave" from Pawnshop Diamond's debut album was selected for CBC Radio 3's Song of the Day in April 2007 when Lana Gay introduced the song by saying "I found while listening to Dig Your Own Grave that the song reads out like character descriptions in a play... the descriptions of these people are unbelievable.”

Paramount to the future of Pawnshop Diamond is their live show. On stage, this five-piece delivers Canadiana in all its goodness. With stage chemistry that can only come from great friends playing music together, Pawnshop Diamond lights up the stage with beautiful harmonies and playful fun. Clayton Brander, the artistic director of Powell River’s Sunshine Music Festival says “Pawnshop Diamond’s on-stage presence and enthusiasm infected the entire audience. The story-telling nature of the lyrics sucked the crowd in and the music took them on quite a ride.” Tom Lucier of Windsor’s Phog Lounge, the winner of CBC Radio 3's 2009 Searchlight Contest for Best Live Music Venue in Canada describes Pawnshop Diamond's show as "an experience so extremely rich, that their indelible impact is what leads to heavy followings on their second, third and subsequent visits”.

They have graced the stage with such artists as Sarah Harmer and Corb Lund and have performed on a diverse array of festival stages including New Music West, Big Time Out, Starbelly Jam, Sunshine Music Festival, In The House Festival, Rock For Insite, Fearless Festival and more.