A new band composed of teachers and alumni from a local Christian school is making some noise on the Winnipeg music scene.
All the Right Lights is a group completely made up of teachers from Linden Christian School (LCS) and their former students.
The band got its start in 2014 when several pit band members decided to continue playing together following the LCS musical production of Guys 'N' Dolls. From there, friends and family members started joining in on the jam sessions.
"We kind of picked people up over the years," joked Mitchell Wiebe, a band teacher at LCS and the group's drummer.
The now ten-piece band has five rhythm section players/singers, and five horn players, and is known for playing funky musical covers.
Matt Janzen, who plays guitar in the band and teaches high school English at LCS was the last to join.
"We try to play music you can dance to," explained Janzen. "Anything from Motown up to some more current music, heavily horn-driven because we have some amazing horn players... funk, soul, R&B, pop... Stevie Wonder does a good job at encapsulating what we do."
When asked what inspired their interesting band name, Wiebe chuckled. "I was driving to church one morning, and I just hit all these green lights," he said, smiling. That was right around the time they were trying to come up with a name for their band.
"I was like 'man, I'm hitting all the right lights,'" Wiebe said, then realizing its potential for a band name. His fellow musicians were quick to agree.
"We were also throwing around the idea of Bad Backyard Barbeque Situation," laughed Janna Banman, who is one of the band's lead singers and the middle years' choir teacher. Needless to say, All the Right Lights was the title that stuck, though Bad Backyard Barbeque Situation has not yet been ruled out as the potential title for their first album.
So far, the group has performed at Station 8 Cafe, an affiliate of Riverwood Church, and more recently at The Park Theatre on Osborne. They're thrilled and grateful for the opportunities they've had so far to share their musical talents.
"As a musician, there's a certain level of satisfaction in playing music with other competent musicians and having that fun, but ultimately, I think the real expression of that is bringing it to people," Janzen says.
Most importantly, however, the coming together of All the Right Lights shows the strength of community that is fostered between teachers and students during their years at LCS.
"I'm looking across the stage at kids whose essays I marked and they're in my band now, or I'm in their band, and it's a ton of fun," shared Janzen. "I think there's a 20 year gap between myself and the youngest member, and that's a really special thing... because of the focus on relationships here at Linden, that's made it easier."
"Such great foundations are able to be formed," Banman added. "There's something that we're doing in this school here that enables those relationships, and they last for years."
Wiebe says he has a great time jamming with the group, though he feels a certain amount of pressure to perform well. "Being a band teacher, I feel like there's just a bit of extra pressure," he chuckled.
"I'm too old for this, but in all the best ways," Janzen says, laughing. "I'm loving it."