The students at Robson Community School were smiling after experiencing the musical talents of a band from the Lower Mainland on Friday.
Sm:)e Band features three high-school-aged girls from Surrey and Burnaby: Avery Amores, age 16, on guitar and vocals, Veronica Amores, age 18, on keyboard and vocals, and Gabbie Evans, age 16, on drums, ukulele and vocals.
The girls put on a show that included teaching the kids about different instruments and chords, and also played a variety of fun pop songs familiar to the students like Shakira’s “Try Everything” (from the film Zootopia) and Katy Perry’s “Roar” — which elicited cheers and an enthusiastic sing-along from the kids.
It was Sm:)e Band’s first time in the West Kootenay and they played seven schools in three days.
Avery says the response from the students was “very energetic, very hyper — the response we were looking for.”
She, Veronica and Gabbie do their own schooling online, which allows them time to tour and perform.
Asked how often they perform, Gabbie said, “It depends. We sometimes have a month where it’s just like practice and we don’t perform at all — we try and get better and better — but there are months, like Christmas for example, that are just 30 gigs in a month.”
The group was brought together by their manager, Terry Armitage.
Gabbie was playing in a band called Suzie Q when she was 12 years old, and when it broke up she and another member, Jasmine decided they’d still like to be in a band.
“[Jasmine] introduced me to Avery, and so me, Jasmine and Avery were this band and then Avery was like, ‘Can my sister join?’ And so Veronica joined,” explained Gabbie.
The band was originally called Girl Code but then changed to Sm:)e Band. Jasmine eventually left the group, and the remaining three girls have now been performing together for three years.
Among the songs Sm:)e Band played for the Robson students was an original song, “Head in the Stars,” and they have been recording more original songs, which they plan to release soon.
Avery explained that “Head in the Stars” was given to the band by Graham Gomez from Vancouver’s Good for Grapes.
“Also we’re learning how to do songwriting,” said Avery.
“It’s a great way to get our emotions out in a very healthy way,” adds Gabbie.
Avery and Veronica are sisters who moved to Canada from the Philippines six years ago.
Avery said an exciting part of visiting the Kootenays was seeing the large mountains.
“In the Philippines, we don’t really get to see mountains like here,” she said.
Avery and Veronica also had a very special experience this past Canada Day, when Sm:)e Band performed the national anthem in Burnaby. The two sisters had just become Canadian citizens earlier in the year.
“It was really fun sharing, ‘Oh, we’re finally Canadian citizens,’” said Avery.
All three girls said they enjoyed playing in Castlegar and look forward to coming back.