Surrey-based musician Lee Aaron in a promotional photo for her new “Diamond Baby Blues” album.

Surrey-based musician Lee Aaron in a promotional photo for her new “Diamond Baby Blues” album.

Lee Aaron video shoot rocks Surrey studio with ‘Diamond Baby Blues’ sounds

One-time ‘Metal Queen,’ a South Surrey resident, records new music following motherhood-related hiatus

Canadian rocker Lee Aaron made the most of her Sunday at a Newton rehearsal studio, where the South Surrey-based musician filmed two videos for a new album of rockin’ blues.

The shoot took place May 27 at Music Makers because, as Aaron put it, “we needed a location that was in an industrial area with open space to park a limo.”

Aaron’s guitarist and songwriting partner, Sean Kelly, flew in from Toronto to help film videos for the songs “American High” and the Koko Taylor anthem “I’m a Woman,” both featured tracks on her Diamond Baby Blues album.

“‘American High,’ shot entirely in and around the limo, turns into a big, full-on glam – yet symbolic – party with the band and a cast of quirky, iconic American figures,” Aaron told the Now-Leader. “It’s a serious message delivered with a humorous rock ‘n’ roll touch, but you’ll have to wait and see the video.”

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW)

The clip for “I’m a Woman,” meanwhile, required “a cool live performance space, and Music Makers had both,” Aaron continued. “We took over the venue with lighting, camera equipment, makeup and wardrobe stations, catering, not to mention the limo, and they were so gracious and accommodating.”

• MORE ABOUT MUSIC MAKERS: Longtime rocker’s music hub makes noise in Newton, from 2016.

A video for Diamond Baby Blues’ title track is already shot and posted at leeaaron.com/media/lee-tv.

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

The new collection follows Fire and Gasoline, a 2016 album that, for Aaron, marked a return to writing and recording original rock music.

For much of the previous decade, the one-time “Metal Queen” of the Canadian music scene had focused on motherhood, raising a pair of children with husband John Cody, who plays drums for a living.

“Our kids, they’re 12 and 13 now, and my daughter is almost 14,” explained Aaron, born Karen Lynn Greening, in a phone interview, “and oh my lord, they’ve both grown taller than me, so I’m officially the shortest person in my family. It’s pretty wild. It’s funny because my son was quite short for awhile… and sure enough, he’s now three or four inches taller than me now.”

• RELATED: Lee Aaron locates old ‘Metal Queen’ costume, from 2015.

Aaron didn’t stop performing live shows during her “bit of a hiatus,” and she also completed a series of audio and video anthologies during that time.

“There was a lot of stuff done in that 10- or 11-year period,” she said, “but it takes time to create a body of work that’s original, and that was something I felt had to wait until my kids were a little bit older. That definitely requires more focus, and it’s hard to have focus when your kids are little,” she added with a laugh.

For Diamond Baby Blues – recorded at Hipposonic Studios, located in the former Little Mountain Sound space in Vancouver – Aaron again joined forces with Kelly to create the majority of songs, with some choice covers in the mix.

The covers, it turns out, were first order of business.

“Traditionally I don’t do cover tunes,” Aaron explained, “but (Kelly) and I talked about putting out a new album fairly soon after Fire and Gasoline, just to build on the momentum from that record, and he said to me, ‘You know, you always talk about doing some covers you’ve wanted to do, and this doesn’t have to be 100 per cent original, this album, so let’s pick some cover tunes,’ and that’s what we did first – chose some covers we wanted to, and kind of built the vibe of the album around that. We wrote the originals after that.”

With Aaron co-producing with John Webster, Diamond Baby Blues took shape as a seamless collection of guitar-driven tracks – many miles removed, in a sonic sense, from the jazz of Slick Chick, the 2000 album that came together around the time she settled with Cody in South Surrey. The new album is closer in sound to Aaron’s platinum-selling days of “Watcha Do to My Body,” from her late-’80s Bodyrock.

“There’s not a big disparity between the two, covers and orignials (on Diamond Baby Blues)” Aaron agreed. “My whole philisophy with covers has always been that if you’re going to do them, you might as well completely deconstruct them and put them back together, and make them your own, otherwise there’s not really a point, right.

“I’ve always wanted to record the Linda Ronstadt tune (‘You’re No Good’), and a couple of the older blues tunes, like ‘My Babe’ and ‘I’m a Woman,’ you know, and at the 11th hour, Sean texted me saying, ‘What do you think about doing ‘Black Cat’ by Janet Jackson?’ and it kind of threw me. I wasn’t sure it fit in but he had this really cool idea for that riff at the beginning, which makes it sound like we’re almost launching into a Rolling Stones tune, but doesn’t. When he played me that over the phone, I was like, ‘OK, I’m sold. Let’s try it.’”

With songs new and old, Aaron is more than ready to rock again in concert, and she’ll hit the stage at the Rock Ambleside festival in West Vancouver from Aug. 17-19, as part of a Friday-night lineup that also features Sweet and Loverboy. Other bands on the bill include Saturday-nighters Rik Emmett of Triumph, Chilliwack, Kim Mitchell and Trooper, plus Sunday attractions Doug & The Slugs, Toronto, Little River Band and Nazareth. Details are posted at rockamblesidepark.com.

“I’m really excited about that one,” Aaron said, “because every festival this particular promoter has launched, a few of them across Canada, have been wildly successful. So yeah, I did one in Kelowna a couple years ago, and others last year, and it’s always Rock the something – Rock the Park, Rock the Beach, that kind of thing, and very successful, and the last time I played Vancouver was at the PNE three years ago.”

With no immediate plans to leave the South Surrey area, Aaron said she’s enjoying her time making rock records again, and performing.

“I’m having so much fun still,” she offered. “You know, I don’t think any of us these days are making new music because we expect to be big rock stars again, or we expect to have huge radio hits, because radio is so controlled now, and the kind of records I want to make don’t get on pop radio. I don’t want everything to be programmed, and I’m still of the philosophy that you go in and hire people who actually know how to play their instruments and you write songs and you play them live off the floor, and you do minimal overdubs and make records that sound like they were performed by real human beings. It’s just still so fun for me, the creative process, to be able to do that.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Man charged after multiple mail thefts in Surrey: RCMP

Police say man was reported to be carrying a crowbar and looking into vehicles

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.'s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
Province ‘ramping up’ COVID-19 vaccination effort in hard-hit Surrey

‘Door-to-door’ registration program in the works, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Serena Deol, Jaspreet Deol, Madison Sweeney and Tanveer Pannu (pictured clockwise from top left) are Surrey United soccer players recruited to the University of Fraser Valley. (submitted photos)
Surrey United soccer quartet sign to play for UFV Cascades

Three of the university’s recruits are Panorama Ridge Secondary students

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read