Like any relationship, whether it is a friendship or romantic interest, playing in a band with other musicians is all about chemistry.
It is something that Metro Moncton audiences are discovering musical duo Liz Dowe & Ben Melanson have in spades.
“This is one of my first ‘serious’ bands, but Ben has more than 25 years of playing under his belt. I can’t really explain why or how it is, but the chemistry that Ben and I have on stage is unlike anything either of us have really had before,” Dowe explains.
“That is what we consistently hear from the audience night after night as well, ‘You guys have an amazing connection on stage…’ We are always hearing that people can sense something special happening with every performance.”
Perhaps ironically, Dowe wasn’t necessarily looking to be as busy as she and Ben have become with their group. She isn’t arguing with the amount of shows coming their way, she simply never set out with the explicit intention of becoming a working musician.
“I adored listening to music when I was growing up, it just seemed like I never really had the opportunity to pursue it. I began raising a family at a young age, which took precedent over me having anything to do with music.”
Dowe shares that as her kids got older, the music bug bit her again, prompting her to enroll in guitar and vocal lessons at age 38, before eventually moving on to form a short-lived country-inspired band.
It is through that group that she and Ben initially crossed paths, when Dowe’s band served as the support act to the group Melanson was playing with at the time.
“We just hit it off,” Melanson recalls. “Not long after, I had left the band I had been playing with. Her group was in need of a drummer so I ended up filling in with their band for a few performances.
“As time passed, however, scheduling around the lives of a number of different people was getting increasingly difficult, which isn’t all that unusual. I floated the idea of she and I working as a duo. We put the act together in the course of one afternoon, taking songs and stripping them down, ultimately re-working the material to fit the duo format.”
Fortunately for the duo, Melanson had more than two decades of musical experience to draw from, which helped things gel a little more effortlessly.
A native of Shemogue, Melanson jokes the groups he has played with since having first learned the drums in 1989 runs the gamut from hair metal to rock, country and more. Despite the vast musical experience that he brings to the table, he insists that performing with Liz is unlike anything he has done in the past.
“I feel that what we bring to the stage is very different than what people come to expect from having just two of us on stage. Musically, we don’t really limit ourselves. We’ll include songs from the likes of Cher, The Cranberries, Led Zeppelin and Adele in our set, but rather than just playing straight-ahead interpretations of those songs, we put our own little twist on them and make them our own. Our approach to the material is refreshing for both ourselves and the audience,” Melanson says.
To his credit, their approach seems to be working, having racked up more than 150 shows over the course of the last year and a half. Add that hectic roster of shows to each Melanson and Dowe holding down full-time jobs, and it makes for rather busy lives for each of the musicians.
Dowe insists, however, that she will never complain of having the opportunity to play music as much as she has during these last 18 months.
“The pace of playing shows has been above and beyond anything that Ben or I could have expected. It’s just such a good time that it never feels like work. Even when we deliberately plan to take time off here and there, by the time we get back on stage, we are both itching to make music again,” she says.
What: Liz & Ben
When: Saturday Dec. 26, 8 p.m.
Where: Hub City Pub, located inside Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Admission is free