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The Lionyls on the City Stage at Bluesfest. Photo by Terry Steeves.

Bluesfest Local Highlights: The Lionyls

By Terry Steeves on July 18, 2016

Four-piece funk/soul/rock sensation, The Lionyls, have been on a non-stop performing schedule, showcasing themselves lately on some bigger stages such as HOPE Volleyball, TD Place, NAC, last year’s CityFolk, this year’s Westfest, and now the main City Stage for their first ever performance at Bluesfest

The band, who are Zach Raynor (lead vocals), Alex Jee (bass/vocals), Robbie “Midnight” Rigg (guitar/vocals), and Anto Rizzuti (drums), brought their larger-than-life sound and presence in an electrifying performance that no doubt rendered The Lionyls many new fans to their already massive following.

The Lionyls drummer, Anto Rizzuti. Photo by Terry Steeves.

The Lionyls drummer, Anto Rizzuti. Photo by Terry Steeves.

They rocked the audience with supremely well-written and very skilfully performed original material. One aptly titled “Fever” worked its way into a heated exchange of guitar, bass, and drums, after which Rigg stood center stage in all his confident guitar god glory to give the audience the first taste of his solo work.

I loved the jumping jazzy-soul fusion in “Midnight Hour,” which was painted with Raynor’s Stevie Wonder-like vocals. His natural front man skills shone as he worked the crowd and stage like he’d done this a thousand times. One called “Cocaine Stars” began with a smoldering guitar/bass intro that jumped into an infectious stop/start sequence, and later soared into a flowing melody. Great vocal harmonies and Latin rhythms topped off this textured piece.

Guitarist for The Lionyls, "Midnight" Robbie Rigg.

The Lionyls guitarist, Robbie “Midnight” Rigg.

Rigg once again impressed the growing audience with a Hendrix-flavoured solo, which introduced another original, “Steppin’ Out.” It was alive with quick spurts of rhythm changes and seethed with groove. “Blacklisted” featured Jee’s truly magnificent bass skills. He powered some great leads throughout the song.

My favourite was “Castaway,” which took us on a journey from a sultry opening, into a sexy three-quarter timed sweep of bluesy-jazzy goodness laced in Raynor’s soulful vocals. Rigg tore up the blues scale in another hot guitar solo steeped in bending notes, after which the song took a sudden turn into an upbeat tune. Again, another textured piece loaded with changing rhythms showed off Anto Rizzuti’s drumming expertise.

In just three short years, The Lionyls have managed to carve out what looks to be a very bright future. They are putting the finishing touches to their recorded work in a soon-to-be-released debut CD. The hard work they continue to put into their craft and performance I predict will send them places.

You can find The Lionyls on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

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