Rhonda Stakich
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Rhonda Stakich

Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter

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Twirl Me
by Andy Frank
"You know the old joke..", smiles Rhonda Stakich, halfway through her "CD release of sorts" at the Horseshoe Tavern on a hot Wednesday night, "once a singer, always a waitress!" Leading us in laughter, we got treated again to one of the most disarmingly heart-warming smiles ever to grace a human face.

Rhonda then cast her eyes toward the makeshift merch table at the front of the hall on the opposite side of the Horseshoe's redundant dance floor. A baker's dozen of her new acoustic, solo CDs, Twirl Me, lay gently fanned out on the table like a magician's hand of cards. The twirls that grace the cover of the modest package (a silver disc slipped naked into a thin sleeve) evokes associations with time machines — one can imagine Austin Powers and Dr. Evil jumping into it and being magically transported to another era of their choosing. Beside the Twirl Me CDs, was a smaller collection of an equally new EP featuring five of her songs performed with the trio that graced the stage on this night — Tim Shia (Worst Pop Band Ever) on drums, Gord Moffat on double bass. They go by the moniker For Keepers — for now. "If you buy Twirl Me, you get For Keepers for free!" The sales job is done; they return to the art of playing.

I paid the going rate of 10 bucks for the pair, stuck them in my shirt pocket, and leaned back in my wooden chair. This is so unfair, I thought, this music business is so brutally unfair. Rhonda Stakich has released two fully-produced and packaged CDs in the past, Mary Mary (2005) and There Were Years (2002) and has had some modest air play and critical acclaim. However, it's ridiculously expensive and time consuming to produce these works, and well, there's a living to be made, a life to be led. One well-known local roots musician told me it cost him $6,000 (CDs not included), two years and 2,000 listens before he felt he had a worthy record to peddle at his shows and from his website, and, he laughed, "I'm a frugal S.O.B.". He figured he'll sell 2,000 to 3,000 copies over the next two to three years at a net of $10.00 a piece, get some stolen, give many away. A waitress at a half-decent restaurant can — somewhat deservedly — net that kind of tax-free profit for schlepping lasagna over six months.

Meanwhile, the gift of Rhonda's live folk/jazz music filled the hollow room. She is a student of her craft, and composes deliciously constructed folk songs on a delicate bed of jazz. Mercifully absent are the typical verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus routines of your average pop song, replaced instead by layers of textured melodies that weave in and out, dance, twirl, and return, songs that challenge Rhonda's velvet vocal chords and skilled guitar playing. The room filled, one by one, many coming to see the next rock band on the 'Shoe's typical multi-headed performance bill, but the reception to For Keepers was genuinely warm and enthusiastic. Music lovers know when someone exceptional stands before them, whether they subscribe to the genre on stage, or not.

"This is our last song, pretend it's the encore 'cause this is it", said Rhonda, sincerely. Six minutes later, with the house music already being piped in, guitar unplugged, drum kit being disassembled, and with the next Horseshoe players chomping at their bits, Rhonda, Tim and Gord sheepishly acknowledged the enthusiastic wishes of the crowd, and played one more song. It was the rarest of treats, a genuine encore, and a well-deserved acknowledgement of a fabulous local talent. I looked again at the twirling cover of Rhonda's CD before I left, and wished she could jump through a time machine, set for an era when we will have finally evolved well beyond American Idol, a quantum leap to a future that justly rewards and encourages artists of all kinds for the joy and value they provide to humanity.
- Live Music Report


Discography

Mixed Up (single - 2007)
The Dream (single - 2007)

Twirl Me (2007)
For Keepers EP (2007)
Mary Mary (2005)
There Were Years (2002)

Photos

Bio

Rhonda Jean Stakich has been living an adventure ever since she left her hometown of Edson, Alberta to pursue her love of performing. Rhonda began her travels as an award winning dancer, with her first steps taking her to the Yukon to be a part of Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gold Rush Girlies as a Can-Can Dancer. While she was busy kicking her legs up high, Rhonda was quietly falling in love with a different kind of performing, a love that has laid down a path for her ever since. Rhonda fell in love with music.

Rhonda went on to hone her musical chops in Edmonton, studying both voice and Musical Theatre at Grant MacEwan College. Soon after graduating, she formed and fronted the Edmonton-based original funk band, Bubba. However, in the true spirit of adventure, Rhonda decided to leave this band of all-stars to pursue a solo career. Rhonda packed up her guitars and spent some time in Vancouver and Yellowknife before moving to Toronto, where she now resides.

Rhonda landed in Toronto in 2001, and it didn't take long for local audiences and the Toronto musical community to fall head over heels for the woman, her voice and her songs. Rhonda has continued to develop her unique sound – a melodic and sophisticated blend of pop and jazz, always with a touch of her Albertan roots – that has set her apart from her peers. She has matured into one of Toronto's finest musicians, earning her gigs at every major venue in the city, including a residency at the famed Rex Jazz and Blues Bar this past summer.

Rhonda has independently released two Cds, There Were Years (2002) and Mary Mary (2005), which are both available for sale on www.cdbaby.com. Tracks from both Cds have and continue to receive airplay on CBC radio. The track Uneasy off Mary Mary has recently been featured on the “River Of Song” program on ICEBERG95, Sirius Satellite Radio.

Rhonda continues to share her adventures and stories with audiences across the country and can be found on the web at www.rhondastakich.com or www.myspace.com/rhondastakich