Categories: Entertainment

After a five-year absence, Oscar Lopez returns to the Arden

This coming Saturday

There is a lot of good karma following Oscar Lopez these days, especially through the 2014 release of Apasionado.

The 14-track recording is the two-time Juno Award winner’s first solo effort in 10 years, an album that blends jazz, blues and pop into the Chilean-born guitarist’s signature world fusion.

Lopez returns to the Arden Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 3, more than five years after performing as part of a trifecta with Pavlo and Rik Emmett in 2010. Make no mistake. The crowd loved them then and is once more ready to embrace Lopez.

Most biographies list Lopez’s birthplace as Santiago with residence in Calgary since 1981. What is missing is that Lopez and his family spent a few years in Naramata, B.C., an area in the Okanagan with a rich cultural history.

It was in lush wine country that Apasionado was conceived. As Lopez explains it, the family needed a change. On the spur of the moment, they packed their bags and moved west.

“At the time, I had nothing in the works. I really didn’t have the inspiration or desire for creation. Sometimes you have to go with the flow, and I didn’t push myself,” said Lopez.

Lopez and his wife purchased an old house in Naramata that originally was built by a chiropractor and was surrounded by McMansions and wineries.

“The house had a lot of character and it became a symbol of Naramata. It was an intimate and very spiritual house. It had good karma. We saw wild animals and when it was clear we could see the stars. It was a magical place. That house was very much involved in Apasionado. I needed to go there and go through the process and come up with the melodies,” Lopez reminisces.

In fact, the majority of song titles for Apasionado are from the Okanagan. So great is the singer-songwriter’s praise of his lodgings, he dedicated the song Road to the Blue House as a personal salute.

The process he describes is overcoming a dry spell of creativity, a surprising event that happened after meeting Justin Glibbery, leader of the Naramata Community Choir.

“He’s an extraordinary piano player and became a good friend. He invited me to his house and over a glass of wine, we played a few songs together. After two or three hours of jamming, I started to feel this amazing organic power from within. I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t forcing it.”

His creative block was broken and together the duo worked on Apasionado.

“He was the most caring, charismatic, beautiful soul. He never pushed me, but he was always there.”

The Okanagan influence is everywhere in the album. Breaking Through the Clouds is inspired by cloudy Okanagan winters where residents need to push past murky skies to reach the sun.

Tears is a song of happiness celebrating the little things in life whereas Niko Bailarin is a nod to his son, Niko, 9, who “dances like crazy” to his father’s rhythms.

Line of Fire is a “killer song” that means more to Lopez than any other. He first played it at a 2013 benefit concert at McMahon Stadium for Calgary’s flood relief. The concert attracted 32,000 people and raised more than $2 million.

“Line of Fire is about the people who get up in the morning and know they will be in the line of fire. They may not like it, but they still get up. They are the policemen, the firefighters, the politicians, and the armed forces. They are poor children across the world and people who are hurt and abused. They are the people around us.”

In case you’re wondering, the Lopez family moved back to Calgary this year.

“ Both our families live in Calgary. We had to drive nine hours when we wanted to visit, so we decided to come back.”


Oscar Lopez
Saturday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Arden Theatre
Tickets: $34 Call 780-459-1542 or online at ticketmaster.ca

Anna Borowiecki: Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.