The Viragos
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The Viragos

Band Pop Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Volume 1 promises more from duo"

In today's world, music is often driven by depression, anger, and angst.
So it is refreshing to find a musical group focused on being positive.
Lisa Rae Simons and Debra Howell, a.k.a. the Viragos, are a Maple Ridge-based musical duo that has just released a new CD, titled Volume 1.
"It implies there is going to be more," says Simons, "which there is."
Both Viragos have an extensive musical background. Lisa Rae Simons was born in Edmonton, and has a predominantly jazz and rock background. She has been playing bass since she was 12, and guitar even before that. She was part of a very musical family, and after attending Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, at the end of 1997 she decided that she wanted to be a full-time musician. "I wanted to live in Vancouver, and make music," says Simons, "and it has been nothing but goodness ever since."
Debra Howell was born and raised in Coquitlam, and also started her musical career at a young age. At 10 she was involved in musical theatre, and by 13 she had joined some rock bands. The two met at a musical event at The Railway Club downtown, and although they had heard of each other, they had never formally been introduced. When they finally were however, they both realized they had the same goals for their music, and decided they should collaborate together. They formed the production company Chocolate Blond, and eleven months later to the day, they were performing together at The Railway Club.
Both women have separate jobs besides performing in the Viragos. Simons performs with the Vancouver based 'Nearly Neil & The Solitary Band' and Howell has been a Marilyn Monroe impersonator for the past few years. Both agree however, that making a living impersonating someone else does not hinder their ability to create their own original music. Simons says "it's fulfilling to have the option to play [famous] original music - it's nice to have the outlet." Howell agrees, "I just look at how great [these famous songs] are, and how much staying power they have, and it gives me a boost to put more energy into my original stuff."
The product of their original stuff is their new CD, which was just released last week, but is not having its official release until November. They describe their own music as "fresh eclectic pop", which Simons describes as taking the best parts from different types of music, such as jazz, rock, country, and even poetry, and putting them all together. They characterize their music as existing somewhere between The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and Heart, and cite these bands, among some others including Supertramp, The Eagles and ABBA as influencing their own music.
"Our music is mainstream," says Howell, "but we definitely have our own sound." Their CD overall has a very positive message, and Simons describes it as "a message from nature about the innocence of childhood," and remembering how the smaller things in life could bring such happiness when you were young. Howell agrees that many of their songs are about reclaiming their childhood, and sending out a message of love, peace, and joy. Their music also contains no profanity, and is not noisy or overbearing, but fun and uplifting to listen to. It is music that makes you want to sing along at the top of your lungs. In writing the songs, Howell usually writes the melodies and lyrics, and then Simons basically cleans it all up and writes bridges among other things. "I birth it," laughs Howell, "and then [Simons] develops it."
Both women were involved in all aspects of the CD, from the writing and producing of all the music, to the design of the album cover, and the promotion of themselves. Simons adds, "we wanted to be a part of everything, but we had to stick to our guns about what we wanted. We didn't want to be changed into something we weren't."
For the future, The Viragos are going to continue promoting their CD, and on November 24th, they will have their official release party. Right now they are in the process of putting a band together, developing new songs, getting a booking agent, playing more live shows, doing a video, and trying to get their music into film and television. It is a lot of work, but they are up for the challenge. "We want to get to know people, and to support other artists, and build on the artistic community that already exists in Maple Ridge," says Howell. They would also like to play in different festivals, and eventually take their music to Australia and Europe, and be a part of their music scenes. "The response has been good so far," says Howell, and they're both hoping it's going to stay that way.
w To learn more about The Viragos, you can visit

Amy Judd
Friday October 7, 2005


"THE VIRAGOS: volume 1"

Vancouver’s Viragos are Debra Howell and Lisa Rae Simons and they seem
to be having a great time. This is fresh and fun pop with nicely layered
harmonies that tie everything together with a bow on top. B

- John P. McLaughlin
Tuesday, November 22, 2005 THE PROVINCE - THE PROVINCE

""Seriously—this is great stuff!""

I’ve just listened to the songs from your Volume 1 CD, and I’m really bowled over! Excellent stuff. The songs are top notch all the way—your wonderfully musical vocals and harmonies really make these songs sing! I really enjoyed each one of your tunes; great hooks abound (the chorus on “The Kiss,” for example—very catchy!). I could listen to the both of you sing from the phone book. Seriously—this is great stuff, from the pop ‘n’ roll of “The Kiss” to the beautiful balladry of “Innocence” and the straight-ahead pop of “Bluebird.”

Alan Haber
Pure Pop, the radio show
Jan. 8, 2006
- Alan Haber, Pure Pop - the radio show

"You Gals Rock!"

Lisa & Deb, You gals rock! killer set last night! I really like the format ... let's do it again soon.

Trigger, Girlgig Productions
Jan. 23, 2006

- Girlgig Productions

""you did an exceptional job entertaining our audience""

Thank you for your awesome performance. Both of you did an exceptional job entertaining our audience with tight vocals and a full body sound. Many thanks for your contribution and outstanding community spirit!

Larry W. Campbell
Mayor of Vancouver
July 28, 2005

- Larry W. Campbell, Mayor of Vancouver


debut album: The Viragos volume 1
Songs: Bluebird, Butterfly, The Kiss, Innocence, Melting, Let's Make Love


Feeling a bit camera shy


THE VIRAGOS - a Popadelic Rock Band based in Vancouver, B.C. “music that makes you want to sing along at the top of your lungs!" Their music evokes the spirit of the 70s & 80s with modern sensibility; full of infectious melodies and lush harmonies. THE VIRAGOS unique sound conjures up images of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Heart co-writing.

THE VIRAGOS performances are packed with their dynamic originals, as well as a great mix of familiar favorites from the 70s & 80s. Upbeat and fun, for any age.

Debra Howell, a freelance singer/songwriter & Marilyn Monroe impersonator, and Lisa Rae Simons, a vocalist and freelance bass guitar player, are the driving force of THE VIRAGOS;
backed by Steve Kulusic on lead guitar and Rusty James on drums, allowing them to perform in two equally strong formats - a full band (4 piece) and a duo.

THE VIRAGOS are in their element playing to intimate audiences, as well as crowds of 30,000 plus. Their extensive musical and performance experience gives them a cutting edge with their original music and live performance.

THE VIRAGOS songs emerge from the exploration of our human nature; from the importance of our inherent connection with the Earth and Nature, to the powerful metamorphic transformations of our lives, and by the belief in Peace and the power that music has to Unite!

View LIVE VIDEO CLIPS and hear MORE SONGS on our website: