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MUSIC NOTES: Surrey-raised rapper Merkules high on touring with Snoop Dogg, Vancouver date Tuesday

Music news, views and reviews for Surrey and Metro Vancouver
Rappers Merkules and Snoop Dogg pose for a photo backstage while touring Canadian cities.

So far it's been quite a year for Merkules, the Surrey-raised rapper who's been touring arenas of Canada as opener for hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg.

On Tuesday night (June 25), their "Cali To Canada" journey came to an end with a final concert at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, with Warren G. and others along for the fun ride.

On social media, Merkules has documented the memorable tour in photos, videos and writings.

"This tour has been an experience I’ll never forget, and I’m truly blessed," he posted on Facebook. "I don’t even think I’ll grasp this last month and how crazy it’s been till it’s all over but it isn’t. We got one show left in my hometown of Vancouver and I’m so excited to bring it home. We manifested everything to get here, and we’re only getting started."


Growing up in Surrey, Merk used to rap in the mirror, pretending he’d be on a big stage one day. "My parents are coming to witness it and I’m emotional even thinking about it," he added in a pre-concert post. "It’s been such an incredible month with Snoop…. I’m not sure I’m even ready for the high I’m gonna experience tomorrow getting to wrap this up at home." 

Signed to Death Row Records, now owned by Snoop, Merkules also opened for Ice Cube in Victoria in April.

Recently he posted "Ten Toes," a new video viewed 118,000 times on Youtube so far — just a fraction of the 900 million views of his work on the video platform, on the Young Merkules channel. Also released last week was the song "2 Choices," a Big B/Merkules collaboration about critical moments that define one’s life path, via Regime Music Group.

Years ago, Merkules was better known as Cole Stevenson while growing up in a rancher on 90A Avenue, in the Green Timbers area of Surrey. The house, since demolished, is where Merkules honed his rap skills (starting out as Merk Mikz), during a period of isolation there following a brutal attack he suffered at age 16, while walking home from a New Year’s Eve party.


Another Surrey-raised talent, Daniel Sveinson now sings and plays guitar for Brass Camel, who brought brilliant prog-rock to Vancouver's Hollywood Theatre last Friday night (June 21), opening for Jesse Roper.

Brass Camel has rocked for seven years now, and the current lineup slays with 70s-era sounds that riff on classic Rush, Queen, Styx and others. Their unpredictability is predictably awesome, and it sounds like they rehearse eight hours a day, but that's reportedly not the case — just lots of gigging here and across Canada. Next up in Surrey is the Salmon Sessions Music Festival, Aug. 24 at Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club with headliner Daniel Wesley, Fionn and others.

Roper too is incredibly likeable with his infectious, feel-good mix of R&B, blues, rock and country. It's tough not to cheer for the guy, who has a 1,000-watt smile and apparently just loves to perform. On stage he tells fun stories about driving his 1994 Toyota 4Runner, the simple life on Vancouver Island and how much fun he and his Pretty Good Band had performing in Europe, New York City and other places. The tour list on notes a couple of B.C. dates this summer including this weekend's Laketown Shakedown in Lake Cowichan.


Back on June 15 in Vancouver, Mother Mother performed a homecoming concert at Rogers Arena where there were teen-girl screams aplenty for the band and also co-headliner Cavetown, who looks like Harry Potter's more hairy cousin and plays simple, catchy but ultra-safe pop songs. He wore colourful overalls similar to his band members. Adorable.

With bigger stages and more streams (and screams), Mother Mother's rising popularity means more focus on new songs in concert. The set list included some older numbers but sadly neglected some of the band's best songs, including Monkey Tree, Bit By Bit, O My Heart, Body of Years, Let’s Fall in Love, Simply Simple and The Stand, and that's too bad.

The arena's upper bowl was curtained off, meaning around 8,000 fans filled the lower bowl for the concert, pretty much. It really is great to see Mother Mother embraced by new and younger fans, but I kind of miss the older version of the band, which motors forth with vocalist/guitarist Ryan Guldemond with Mike Young on bass, Ali Siadat on drums and both Jasmin Parkin and Molly Guldemond on vocals and keyboards.


Lately I've been turning the pages of Van Halen at 50, the latest of an amazing 120 books written by veteran music journalist Martin Popoff. A rock 'n' roll encyclopedia, the Toronto resident goes deep into the history of Van Halen in a photo-heavy examination of the party-rock icons, from mid-'70s start to 2020 finish with the death of guitar legend Edward Van Halen.

"Twelve studio albums across 34 years is just a cryin' shame," Popoff writes, "but if we can look on the bright side, there was a lot of playing live, including the four years before they got a record out. More of a cryin' shame is the breakdown in relations, most saliently between the brothers and lead singers, with Michael (Anthony, bass player) caught in the middle, although he caused his own problems by not participating enough in the songwriting."

Rockers, pick up this book for a summer read.

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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